through His Word
by Tammy Kennington
Your parents had to get married. Her words, rife with condemnation and mockery, penetrated my third-grade heart. I felt the stares of the other children. I blinked hard, forcing my humiliation to be quiet. Undetectable. But shame rose fast and unrelenting like floodwaters. Tears blurring my vision, I bowed my head and hurried toward the school cafeteria. That day, every bite of food tasted like shame.
My struggle with shame began long before elementary school. It festered and grew in a home where words were weapons and hurtful labels were accepted without question. I was a burden, not a blessing.
As time passed, a well-rehearsed script played again and again in my head. You aren’t worth being loved. Nobody will ever want you. You mean nothing. The words ran through my mind like a ticker-tape and held power in my life far into adulthood.
Shame cost me. When my husband and I argued, when women rebuffed my attempts at friendship, or when family members unwittingly failed to meet my need for acceptance, my mind hit the replay button and reinforced the horrible truth I’d known from childhood—I didn’t matter.
I wonder if you, too, wrestle with shame. Perhaps it’s a divorce in your past or disappointment that you don’t meet the world’s standard of success or appearance. Maybe you wear labels others have given you or are weighed down by those created in your mind.
An overview of Scripture reveals shame can develop in a variety of ways.
Shame can result from personal sin. The earliest example of sin-caused-shame is from Genesis 3:7 (NIV*). As soon as Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of knowledge, “their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.”
Friends, family, and acquaintances can heap shame on us. Grieving the loss of his children, health, and worldly comforts, Job needed the comfort of friendship. Instead, his companions accused him of sin, placing the blame of devastating loss on the shoulders of a righteous man.
- Satan wages war with shame-filled indictments. Revelation 12:10 tells us that our enemy “accuses the brethren … day and night.” The father of lies knows our vulnerability and shoots his fiery arrows, attempting to convince us that we are beyond God’s reach—hopeless, helpless, and alone in our brokenness.
But we can discover freedom from shame in the truth of Scripture. Romans 8:33 reads, “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.” Self-condemnation, the ill-spoken words of others, and the prince of this world are powerless to overcome the gift of grace God offers His children. Only our heavenly Father has the right to judge, and instead He has justified us through the resurrection of Christ. We stand unblemished and forgiven before the throne, our shame having been cast on the Lamb and absolved by His holy sacrifice.
Shame has been conquered by Christ; our identity is found in Him. Who does Christ say you are, believer? You are adopted (Romans 8:15). You are chosen (1 Peter 2:9). You are loved (Ephesians 2:4-5).
Prayer: Abba Father, thank You for redeeming me from the shadow of shame. Give me the discernment and wisdom I need to guard my thoughts against the lies of the accuser and teach me to trust in my identity as Your child. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
*All Scripture verses are taken from the NIV.
© Copyright 2020 by Tammy Kennington
Tammy Kennington is a writer and speaker who lives in Colorado Springs with her husband, children, and a ninety-five-pound lap dog. Tammy blogs at tammykennington.com and has had her work featured in such publications as MOPS magazine and The Upper Room.
This post is a part of our new series called Building Your Arsenal: Truths of Victory from Romans 8. Check out Lauren Craft’s post if you missed it a couple of weeks ago: Finding a Distaste for Sin.
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shame, freedom, identity, God's love, the cross, Tammy Kennington, The Christ Who Conquered Shame, Building Your Arsenal: Truths of Victory from Romans 8, Katy Kauffman, Lighthouse Bible Studies