Hiding is human. But if any part of you wants things to be different, it's time to undo the shame and unlock your transformation.
Shame was not part of God's original creation. "They were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed" (Gen. 2:25). No hiding. No feeling embarrassed. You see me, and I see you. That was the state of the relationship between Adam and Eve, and between them and God.
The moment sin entered, shame entered. And the hiding began. "Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves" (Gen. 3:7). That much you've probably heard before, perhaps many times.
But what then? Human beings don't like shame. The response contemporary culture offers is, "There's nothing wrong with it. So don't feel bad; you're OK." Anything goes. The premise the world promotes is that everybody else's opinion of you sets you up to feel shame, but what you did or experienced was not actually bad. That approach doesn't work, and it certainly is inconsistent with Scripture.
But at its root, shame goes even deeper. Shame says there's something wrong with me. At my core I'm faulty. I have a sense that my very nature is bad.
Our sense of shame comes from the way God made us. Sociopaths feel no shame, but the rest of us feel like hiding when we lie, cheat, steal, and so on. Don't you try desperately to keep your shady business deals, ungodly sexual desires or other sins hidden? Yes, you don't want people to see that the real you is flawed. But at a deeper level, shame highlights that you and I are not living as the human beings God originally created us to be.
Although our natural response to shame is to hide, the response God intends us to have is to allow our shame to drive us to Him in order to experience the transformation He offers.
The purpose of undoing the shame is not to feel better about yourself; it's to unlock your transformation.
You and I are not OK. Simply trying to feel better about yourself would be like saying the leaking roof, cracked foundation and broken windows of a run-down fixer-upper are OK.
But the good news of the gospel is that you don't have to stay that way. Jesus loves you unconditionally just the way He finds you, but He loves you too much to leave you in that condition. He loves you enough to invest all of heaven to transform you into who He originally created you to be.
Shame can keep you stuck if you allow it to. But shining the light on your broken places disinfects the shame. Let your desire to hide drive you away from shame and into Jesus' arms.
Here are three ways to do that.
How to Undo the Shame
1. Tell Somebody
Resist the hiding. Shame thrives in the dark. It's amazing the freedom that will come into your soul when you share your struggles with another believer. This is one of the intended benefits of staying connected with the body of Christ.
God's intended path to healing includes telling somebody. "Confess your faults to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much" (James 5:16). Some have tried to make a distinction between faults, trespasses and sins. In the original Greek, however, the word here is hamartia, sins. Confessing your sins to another believer is not where forgiveness comes, but it is an important place of healing.
Choose whom to tell wisely. Some church members may respond by heaping on additional shame; that's not the purpose. Pray that God direct you to the one, two or three other believers who can minister healing to you as you get out of hiding and into the light. Such believers can be so important in undoing the shame and spurring you on toward transformation.
2. Tell Jesus
Most of us naturally try to hide our sins, brokenness, failings and shame even from Jesus. It's not as if Jesus doesn't already know. But as the old gospel song says, "I must tell Jesus, I must tell Jesus. I cannot bear these burdens alone." It's in telling Him that you receive forgiveness. It's in His presence that change happens.
Peter paints a very descriptive picture of this. "Cast all your care upon Him, because He cares for you" (1 Pet. 5:7). The word translated cast is the same Greek word used to describe the way the disciples threw their garments on the donkey Jesus rode into Jerusalem (Luke 19:35). When you tell Jesus, you let it go. It's not yours anymore.
Do that with your shame. Take it and throw it onto Jesus. Let Him take it away and leave you clean.
3. Seek Healing
Healing isn't something that magically happens because time passes. Healing is something you choose, seek and voluntarily embrace to take into your being. Most of the time it's not a one-and-done, but a process. Like an infected wound, undoing the shame drains the infection. Healing is the transformation process that happens after that.
Go there with Jesus. Invite Him to go with you to the places in your past and in your soul where change is needed. Let Him get below the surface. Stay in that place with Him a little while. He knows it all already anyway; give Him access and opportunity to actually do the change He wants to accomplish.
Undo the shame and unlock your transformation. The result will be that you are no longer a fixer-upper, but a demonstration of the transformation process God wants to do for everyone.
Your Turn: Where are you hiding? Whom will you tell? How will you tell Jesus and invite Him into those dark places to bring you healing? Leave a comment below.
Dr. Carol Peters-Tanksley is both a board-certified OB-GYN physician and an ordained doctor of ministry. As an author and speaker, she loves helping people discover the Fully Alive kind of life Jesus came to bring us. Visit her website at drcarolministries.com.
This article originally appeared at drcarolministries.com.
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