“So many times I’ve lost count.” Ruth’s mouth puckered.
“Then he’s already forgiven you. Now you can heal.”
Ruth’s head shook from side to side. As a nurse, she knew of no procedure or medication or surgery to remove shame.
In my novel A Memory Between Us, the heroine, Lt. Ruth Doherty, struggles with shame over her past. This six-part blog series deals with shame that lingers after sin has been forgiven or there was no sin to begin with, as in abusive situations. (First post link.)
God doesn’t want us to live under a heavy cloak of shame because:
Tools for Shoving off Shame
Even when we know the truth, when we know we’re forgiven, covered, and restored, we can still find ourselves in shame’s downward spiral. How can we deal with this shame and shove it out of our lives?
1) Recognize it can be a long battle.
Depending on your personality and history, shame may be a stubborn enemy. Don’t allow yourself to get discouraged in the healing process. Even when you feel you’re healed, shame can still rear its ugly head occasionally. Squash it back down.
Your best and most potent weapon is prayer. Rest in the assurance of God’s forgiveness and ask for His help in dealing with shame.
3) God’s Word
To recognize lies, you have to know the Truth. Daily Bible reading fills your soul with truth and imprints God’s promises into your mind and heart. When a verse really speaks to your situation, memorize it or write it down or make it into a song, whatever you need to keep it in front of you.
My favorite verses about shame are Isaiah 54:4: “‘Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood,'” and Isaiah 50:7: “Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.” Other great verses about shame include Psalm 25:3, Psalm 34:5, Isaiah 61:7, Ezekiel 39:25-26, and 1 Peter 2:6.
4) Discipline of your mind
God has already done His part and He’s given us all we need to live free lives, but we need the strength of will to come out from shame’s dark shadow. Listen for those nasty lies, refuse to dwell on past sin and shame, and dwell on the truth. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” This is no passive task, but an act of the will. Likewise, when we’re told to “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14), this is also an act of the will, to throw off the cloak of shame and put on the cloak of Jesus’ righteousness.
Next week, we’ll wrap up the series and talk about how we can rise again and live the lives God wants for us.