Guilt and shame are two very different feelings. Guilt says “I’ve done something bad” shame says, “I AM BAD!”
Guilt propels you to rectify your wrongdoing, shame keeps you trapped in a negative cycle of self loathing, self soothing, self focus, self, self, self. Shame is all about YOU but not in a healthy way…
Many years ago at Bible college our class discussed what the cross represented to us on a personal level. We explored “propitiation”, a word I’d never heard of until then. I began wondering if I was holding on to anything that Jesus had already paid the price for? It soon dawned on me that I carried a heavy lingering feeling of shame. Shame, stemming from my own sin and wrong-doing plus acquired shame from taking responsibility for the actions of others towards me. On my way to class the following week an intense overwhelming emotion forced me to steer my car off the road and I began to sob. It was then, that this thought occurred to me;
Whilst ever I clung tightly to “my” shame, in essence I was saying that Jesus’ crucifixion was somehow not enough for me… that his torturous beating and death on the cross at Calvary was not complete… how I was brought to my knees in that moment. I eventually pulled myself together, and continued to class where our lecturer had a large wooden cross. We each wrote our burdens on paper folded them and nailed them to this cross. The visual symbolic act signified and loosened shame’s grip, it released me from a pride I wasn’t even aware of. From that day forward I’ve lived shame free with a heart full of thanks for His death and resurrection. Gods forgiveness, grace and mercy; is more than I deserve and more than enough to cover every one of life’s limitations, heartache and trouble.
I shared this with Dave about 10 months into recovery. Once he identified the things he’d held so tightly; defense mechanisms he mistakenly believed served him, behaviours and attitudes he seemed to wear as a badge of honour i.e shame, pride, unforgiveness, etc, we built a fire, lit it, then one by one he burnt each piece of paper as we prayed and released the load to the Lord. This is just one of many exercises we’ve incorporated through our recovery journey.
Our God has big shoulders and our past is not too dark for His light to shine.
Even if you’re not a believer this might be a ritual you could find liberating. What ever is keeping you stuck, disappointment, fear, anxiety, anger, grief, name it write it down and BURN that sh*^! “It is finished”
Find the way that works for you to move forward 🙏❤️
30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Isaiah 53 4-6
4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.