Shame Off You

Shame Off You
From Hiding to Healing
(Abingdon Press, 2018)

WHO: Denise Pass, a singer-songwriter who leads Seeing Deep Ministries.

SHE SAYS: “Shame cannot break through the armor of God that covers us.”

THE BIG IDEA: The stronghold of shame can keep us prisoner in our own life. This book offers practical help, personal stories and Scripture to encourage us to accept God’s grace.

In Part 1, “Shame’s Foundation,” the author shares her personal story of shame, exploring how shame can condemn us, shape our worldview and make us feeling rejected.
Part 2, “Shame’s Impact,” looks at the ways shame can follow us throughout our lives, while Part 3, “Overcoming Shame,” gives biblical reasons why we can now live shame-free.

“If shame is not dealt with biblically, it confines and paralyzes us and keep us from living the abundant life Christ has for us that is shame-free.”

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What are some common shame coping mechanisms and how can we avoid them?

Shame is one of those taboo topics that no one wants to be associated with. We come by it naturally as our predecessors have been utilizing the same shame-ridding techniques since the beginning. Adam and Eve tried to cover their shame with fig leaves, a rather obvious method of hiding their shame. We do the same thing, though perhaps a little less conspicuously. Faulty coping mechanisms span across the spectrum and include avoidance, self-righteousness, pride or rebellion.

The avoidance method stems from a desire to escape pain. We seek to minimize the reality of our shame by denying its presence or hiding its existence. But hiding shame does not heal it. It is when we face shame head on through a biblical lens that we can have victory. There might be a hint of truth in the shame knocking on the door of our minds that we need to own up to. Admitting our weaknesses does not label us—while avoiding shame does. We can’t escape shame by simply dismissing it. We need to evaluate shame through a biblical lens to see if there is any validity to it in order to be set free.

Self-righteousness is that moment when we don’t know how to cast shame off, so we try to dress it up and make it look pretty, make excuses or perhaps blame it on someone else. Through humility, we see that we are capable of shame and need to acknowledge our part in it.

Pride and rebellion are near the end of the shame spectrum, when the shamed cannot bear the weight of their shame any longer. But shame is in the mind. It is not so easily cast off and no amount of pride or rebellion can heal our wounded hearts. Proverbs 11:2 (NIV) tells us that “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Humility does not come easily to a fallen people, but it is such a beautiful place of freedom. We can find that humility in Christ. Christ is our righteousness and He bore all of our sin and shame.

God wants to set us free from shame’s snare. Although shame is interwoven throughout our culture, we can avoid the shame coping mechanisms that have been handed down to us by changing the shame culture. When we acknowledge our shame through truth, humility and grace, we are set free.

How do we expose and understand the real cause of shame?

We tend to look at the fruit of shame, not it’s root. God’s Word illumines true motives and the real problem at hand, but we have to be willing to examine shame instead of being put off by it. What we’ve perceived as shyness might actually be insecurity rooted in a traumatic event from our past. Other roots of shame keep us bound in shame, seemingly unable to escape its grip. Bitterness, fear, anger—to name a few—keep us covered in shame and presumptions can cause us to make up shame all on our own. But, if we are willing, we can examine the shame knocking at the door of our heart by looking at its cause.

What is an example of “borrowed shame”?

This question makes me smile because it reminds me of a time when I was driving in my dually truck and a family member was embarrassed of my vehicle. I realized I was embarrassed then, too. And then I changed my response and laughed at myself, instead. This was such an example of people living in fear of man’s opinion.

There are so many incidences in which we allow people to define or label us in our society that are excessively painful. Borrowed shame is such a common form of shame and we easily fall into it. People’s opinions of what we own, what we do, or who we are can become a place of idolatry as we try to perform or “be enough” to the ever-changing standard. When we seek to live to please man, we are craving their acceptance and essentially “worship of us” over what we were really made for—worship of God alone.

The good news is that Christ already knows we aren’t enough. This is such a freeing truth. We can let go of borrowed shame because it is false and not based on truth. And even when the shame “fits,” we are still shame free because shame no longer fits a forgiven soul. You are free, friend. Walk in it.