In my previous post, I talked about the importance of creating a shame-free zone, a place of safety and freedom. But once we have a safe place, we still have the responsibility of coming out of hiding.
To stand naked, fully self-aware and without shame, is for many of us a distant reality. Transparency and vulnerability scare us. Predators, mean-spirited peers, and our response to unexpected trauma and emotional disappointments have seared our innocence and threatened our sense of safety. As a result of our childhood wounding and neglect, shame and self-hatred have become a polluted seedbed of destructive thoughts. We hide inside of our own body, afraid to really be seen and known. We are more in-tune with the voices of self-condemnation, than we are with the voice of a loving Shepherd.
When we don’t like who we are, the experience of intimacy with God and others is difficult, even emotionally painful. Most of us have no desire to see what drives our shame. We are even ashamed of our shame. The intensity of the feelings keeps us on the run, emotionally and relationally. Separated and emotionally detached, we then attempt to “live in the moment.” Shame keeps us from fully connecting and as a result we feel adrift and alone, even in a room full of people.
Letting go of shame is the activity of grasping onto love. However, we will have to come out of our hiding place in order to make this exchange. It will require vulnerability and risk, two activities we often avoid.
We don’t see vulnerability as God does; a characteristic of authenticity, an expression of strength. We see it as weakness and fear the opportunity of being victimized. When our need for self-protection is greater than our desire for connection we will remain detached and isolated in our pain.
Jesus was vulnerable to humanity, able to be hurt, misunderstood, falsely accused, even crucified. His vulnerability is the source of our strength. He was unrelenting in his pursuit of connection. He was fearless of the judgmental and the traitor. He demonstrated the strength of love to overcome every source of pain and evil.
It is time to come out of hiding. Our damaged souls may regard the Lord’s healing with suspicion, our skepticism disguised as a mature perspective. An arms-length approach to healing will not bring the life-giving connections we need. The voice of our Shepherd calls. He is able to lead us into paths of healing. He knows how to restore our soul.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
Psalm 23:1-3 (NIV)
Where can you take a step of connection this week? Is it time to explore a healing group or go for a sozo?
Let’s Pray: Father God, You have known me and loved me from before I was in my mother’s womb. I no longer want to hide any parts of myself from You. I open my heart to You, even the parts that I keep from others, because You are the Good Shepherd and You want to restore and heal the hurting places of my life. I receive Your love, even when it’s hard to love myself. Thank You for Your kindness that leads me to change. Amen.
Some sections of this article are taken from MORE GLORY! God’s Healing Voice for Shame and Self-Hatred, by Jonathan Hunter and Gwen Gibson.