Ruth dragged her feet up the steps of the monument and circled the marble rising in carved splendor to golden winged figures on top. She gazed up at Queen Victoria bright in the midday sun in all her marble purity. The queen looked down her pure white nose with disdain in her pure white eyes. She knew. She saw Ten-Penny Doherty in her filthy shame, sullying her beautiful land.
In my novel A Memory Between Us, the heroine, Lt. Ruth Doherty is weighed down by shame over something she did in the past. I understand. I’ve been there too. For years I allowed shame to defeat me.
Shame is the voice in our heads saying, “I’m a horrible person. I’m not worthy. God could never use me.”
Shame is one of Satan’s favorite – and most effective – weapons to incapacitate us. Sometimes shame is thrust upon us due to things we have no control over, such as abuse, coming from a dysfunctional home or a home you’re ashamed of, disabilities, or our looks. Sometimes shame arises from sin – not just from unconfessed sin, but it often remains after forgiveness. In fact, the closer we get to God, our shame sometimes grows as we see new dimensions to our sin – how we hurt others, led others astray, and grieved the Lord.
When sin flourishes in our lives, shame serves an important purpose to show us our deeds through God’s perfect eyes and bring us to repentance. The Greek word for shame in the Bible is entrope, which means “turning in upon oneself producing a recoil – based on a wholesome shame – from what is unseemly or vile” (Strong’s Expanded Concordance).
However, when shame remains after sin is forgiven and removed from your life, or no sin existed in the first place (as in abusive situations), this shame is not from God.
It is not God’s will for us to live under the heavy cloak of shame for three reasons: 1) Christ redeems us, 2) Christ covers us, and 3) Christ restores us. Over the next few weeks, I hope to explore these concepts. Jesus said, “‘You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free‘” (John 8:32, italics mine). I want to live in freedom. How about you?