The sweat dripped down my forehead rapidly as I realized I had messed up again.
Getting lost while driving was common for me; I shamed myself for my miscalculations.
Even with the GPS on, I would get lost—fearfully anticipating the worst.
Over and over again, I would internally question my abilities thinking “Why are you so stupid?”—like a relentless bully.
As I approached an intersection, lost yet again, I wondered if my failures would ever not result in me dishonoring myself. I wondered if my shame toward myself was apparent to others.
I felt like, no matter what I did, it would result in me failing… with toxic shame as my daily companion.
Though this time—in my desperate prayers to get on the road the GPS had first suggested—I heard God say, “enjoy the journey.”
Tears streaming down my flushed cheeks, I knew God didn’t want me to see my mistakes as a continuous opportunity to shame myself… but a time to grow in him.
Mistakes don’t always have to make us feel shameful; they can be a chance to draw us closer to the heart of God.
Though our mistakes may bring us on an undesirable path we hadn’t anticipated, accepting them can help us learn and grow so much in our relationship with Jesus. How we perceive our mistakes and how we react to them can allow us to do this.
Shame is a reaction to sin.
We first read about shame with Adam and Eve in Genesis 2:25 (NIV): “Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” They felt no shame because they knew no sin. Their eyes opened to sin when they disobeyed God and ate the apple; only then did they feel shame.
We read how their reaction to God changes in Genesis 3:10 (NIV) “He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.’”
Shame can be healthy to help us know we did something wrong against God, ourselves or others. It helps us know we need to make amends.
Yet, it can be toxic shame when it’s not a warning sign anymore but it affects our identity in Christ in a negative manner. Not allowing us to see ourselves the way he does and believing lies.
It’s toxic shame when it becomes a constant inner voice, over and over again, when a mistake is made and we can’t let it go.
It alters how we see ourselves. Not every mistake needs to make us question our abilities and make us feel like we are bad people. This is condemnation.
Changing your perspective on shame
In Romans 6:21 (NIV) we read: “What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!”
When we accept Jesus, he forgives us when we do wrong if we ask and repent.
Shaming ourselves is not accepting his forgiveness and his grace. It’s hurting ourselves when we have the ability to walk in freedom by accepting forgiveness.
Still carrying the shame of a mistake, after acknowledging it before the Lord, offers us no benefit.
In contrast, it leads us to sin against God by not treating ourselves well, in the way he desires we would.
Instead, after we repent and accept his forgiveness, we should surrender the shame to him as well in prayer.
Let it go, just as you did the sin.
Renew your mind in your identity in Christ
Renewing your mind in who you are in Christ can help you to walk in the forgiveness and love he has for you. It allows you to release the shame.
Here are some truths. You are:
- Never forsaken
- His treasure
You are his beloved daughter whom he loves: whom Jesus gave his life for. Treat yourself the way God desires by letting go of toxic shame and loving yourself the way he does.