I’m listening to Christine Caine’s Unashamed in the audiobook version. I love hearing the Australian accent—it makes me smile. Caine’s story about identifying our shame and how it affects our life touches me at my core.
Maybe you don’t think you carry shame around in your back pocket. Or, perhaps you feel like you wear shame like a heavy winter coat in 90-degree weather. Most of us, though, feel shame, and it affects our lives.
A person carrying shame needs healing.
As Caine points out so poignantly and lovingly, shame affects every thought, word, and action, whether we know it or not. “We feel that painful gap between what we know should be going on inside of us—love, forgiveness, kindness, joy, patience, peace, and so on—and what is actually going on inside of us—anger, blame, impatience, jealousy, turmoil, judgment, suspicion, and so on.” It rears its ugly head when someone accurately identifies a blind spot.
We know when someone hits that blind spot by our reaction to that poke. How do you react in those moments? My instincts are to refute the person, defend myself, and prove them wrong.
Blind spots need healing.
The only way to heal the shame from that blind spot is to take it to God and allow him to heal your broken places. How do you do that? You talk with him about your most vulnerable thoughts, feelings, and desires. And you invite him to show you the truth and help you humbly apologize to others as necessary. Once you identify the wound, you can change your ways and thoughts or continue stubbornly the way you’ve been. You can chalk it up to things like “That’s just the way I am” or “That person doesn’t understand the whole picture. If they did, they’d see I’m right.” Then shame tags along on those thoughts and further blinds you.
True freedom from shame comes when you acknowledge what the other person sees in you. And, though it hurts to your core, and you might feel embarrassment or more shame (horrors), the only way to heal that shame and get free of it is to concede the blind spot.
Thankfully, God tells us that he knows our blind spots and desires our freedom from each one.
And when we recognize it and call it what it is, he heals it. Jesus came to free us from the darkness of sin and shame.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.
— John 1:4-5 New Living Translation
Many people quote, “Hurt people hurt people.”
It’s true. It’s human to lash out at someone when they’ve hurt you. No one likes pain, whether physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual. We blame-shift our response to the other person. “If they didn’t [blank], then I wouldn’t be angry.” “I’ll get even with them. No one treats me that way.”
Please understand me. Yes, you feel hurt when someone hurts you. But how you deal with the hurt reveals your level of healing and freedom to be who God created you to be. Your response might show you that you have some shame or a blind spot yet to be healed.
Perhaps most damaging is when we lash out at God and blame him for our pain.
We turn our backs on the only one who can bring true healing and freedom from any pain we experience. Proverbs 19:3 reminds us, “People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord.” We blame-shift our behavior onto the one who desires our best. We claim he doesn’t care because he didn’t do what we wanted him to do, or he allowed this pain in our life, and we don’t want to deal with it.
Let’s look at what shame causes in our lives (not a comprehensive list, but a place to start).
Hurt people hurt people
Wounded people wound people
Discouraged people discourage people
Angry people anger people
Damaged people damage people
Shamed people shame people
Forgotten people forget people
Here’s what happens when we exchange shame for freedom.
Not an exhaustive list. As you think through this, jot down some more in your journal.
Forgiven people forgive people
Healed people bring hope for healing to people
Encouraged people encourage people
Accepted people accept people
Freed people free people
Understood people seek to understand people
Loved people love people
Which list do you prefer to participate in?
Honestly evaluate which list you live in. Pick one from the first list you recognize today that needs healing.
Each time you recognize and work through your blind spots and find healing, you become more free to be all you were created to be. If you’re unsure how to move forward, please ask for help.