Past Shame…Renewed Hope 

He was a mess. His was a body ravished by substance abuse. He made his way to church after the service he wanted to speak with the pastor privately. Each step took him further down the corridor of whispers, comments, and isolation.  Previously welcomed as a member, backslidden, bent over with rejection and shame. Yet he sought acceptance once more.  

Her beauty had faded. Night light and parties had taken their toll on her body. She had lost popularity, and her job. The brand-name queen now dethroned to dependency on others for her sustenance. Trying desperately to be invisible, she darted into the benefit office.  

His image was smashed. The missing petty cash. A guilty face. In the wrong place at the wrong time. He felt defeated, there was nowhere to hide, he was caught. He knew his exposure as a fraudster was inevitable. His only option was to resign.  He did so quietly and relocated hoping to live in anonymity. 

These three people have one thing in common – the feeling of shame.

Sadly, they all tried to hide their shame in the wrong places. However, each was able to experience the power of Jesus and had the stronghold of their shame broken. Sweet freedom, this wonderful experience can be yours too.   

“Shame sometimes can kill a man,” Philippine proverb. Many of us of are so ashamed of our past actions that we become emotionally and physically numb. Such unhealthy feelings can affect one’s self-image and sense of self-worth and if they remain unchecked, can escalate to suicidal thoughts. During the fourth century BC in Greece, and later in Marseilles suicide was rampant. To abate the situation, a law was passed, that anyone who committed suicide would be dragged through the street naked. It worked. There was an exponential decline. In this instance, the threat of shame had more power than death (even though the person would not be around to experience it).  

Shame has been a powerful and toxic reality since Adam and Eve discovered their nakedness upon eating the forbidden fruit (and hid themselves from God). Genesis 3: 10, (NLT) “He replied, ‘I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.” Feeling exposed and humiliated by their deep-seated shame, husband and wife were drawn into some destructive behaviours: lashing out in anger and attacking each other to deflect attention away from their wrongdoing. The man said it was the woman and the woman said it was the snake, see Genesis 3:12, 13. The result, a weakened, damaged, and dysfunctional family.   

We live in a shame culture.

One moment we are experiencing joy, the next we feel humiliated and are hiding away. Shame renders one vulnerable.  ‘What did I do wrong? How could I have gotten myself into this?’ ‘Where did I go wrong? Shame makes you feel lost. But there is always a way out. Listen to Isaiah 61:7, (ESV), “Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonour they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore, in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.” 

If anyone was clothed in shame, it was King David. You would defriend him from your Facebook page and disown him. Adulterer! Murderer! Liar! Actions committed to cover his shame.  Having been exposed by a prophet he wrote, “O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. Indeed, none who waits for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous” (Psalm 25:2-3 ESV)  

Let not your shame rob you of eternity.

Learn from those bad experiences. See a deeper and a renewed pathway. Use shame as reason to be hopeful rather than a reason to despair. Intentionally, surge forward with God. You will be renewed. 

Search me O God and know my thoughts. Please lead me in the path everlasting.