When Shame Condemns Us

“What is wrong with me? Nothing I think, feel, say, or write is right. I am a mistake. I’m such a bad person.”

Do you ever feel this way? Deeply rooted shame from abuse (whether sexual, physical, verbal, mental, or spiritual) can consciously or subconsciously debilitate us and sink us into self-destructive behavior and/or self-condemnation.

Traumatic attacks on our minds, hearts, and bodies gouge a gaping wound within us, and it takes time to process the deep pain and root out the resulting shame. It can be a life-long process to acknowledge our pain, grieve what we lost, and work through all the deep emotions. 

God hasn’t created us to struggle alone. We need others, even if it’s one person, to listen to our stories, to believe us, and to support us. To listen and encourage without judgment or condescension. To remind us it’s not our fault. To tell us it’s ok to feel the way we do and to talk about it.  

Non-supportive and judgmental words, actions, and attitudes or the lack of supportive ones can hinder our healing, make us feel victimized all over again, and cause us to retreat into our own pain and throw up thicker walls around our hearts and lives.

Maybe you’ve heard some people dismiss or minimize abuse or assault? Maybe even blame the victim, ourselves included, instead of the abuser? Or mock and condemn the victim when he or she finally gained the courage to tell? It hurts deep within our souls, doesn’t it?

Has anyone ever told you,”You must not have enough faith or you would be healed by now.”? Or “Let it go. The past is past. Move on with your life.”? Or “You shouldn’t bring these things up. You’re supposed to forgive and forget.”? It’s like they’re saying “SHAME ON YOU!” while at the same time shooting an arrow into your heart.

My only hope to get through these times
is to pour out my heart to Jesus.
He cares and understands,
and He never shames or condemns us.

Perhaps you have been told it’s wrong to go to a therapist or to take anti-depressants? That it’s a sin because you’re trusting people rather than God to help you?

God created our entire beings, not just our bodies. He created our emotions, too. Just as we may need doctors and medicines as means blessed by God to heal us or to better cope with chronic illness, we may need a learned therapist and/or depression or anxiety medications to guide us through the healing of our emotional health.

I have come a long way through years of these means, because God blessed them. Other supportive people have also been used to strengthen and encourage me through this continuing, difficult journey, including many of you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

I have learned to better process my emotions, but I still avoid certain people or situations that I know hinder further healing, and I still get triggered from condemning remarks or attitudes thrown at victims of abuse. Then shame rears its ugly head again, and I am thrown back to painful memories. All the negative voices and insecurities flood my soul again.

I have to desperately cry out to Jesus
to rescue me and other victims.
I could never have gotten
to this point without Him.

We  have a Savior who has suffered the depths of shame to make it possible for us to heal from it. With open arms, He invites us to open our hearts to His comfort and healing grace. He desires for us to pour out all our hurts and needs to Him, even if they’re only wordless cries and sighs. And He never condemns us. He cries with us and helps us to grieve, to function, and to heal ever deeper.

Jesus says,
“The thief approaches with malicious intent,
looking to steal, slaughter, and destroy;
I came to give life with joy and abundance.”
John 10:10 The Voice

“You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that mere earthly mortals
will never again strike terror.”
Psalm 10:17-18

“He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.”
Psalm 147:3

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation
for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Romans 8:1

“Even If”
by Mercy Me

“I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow, I know the hurt
Would all go away if You’d just say the word
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone…”

Faith and Fear Can Co-Exist

“When I am afraid,
I will trust in You.”
Psalm 56:3 HCSB

Feeling crushed by enemies too hard for him, David asked God for His free, rich mercy only He can give.

This same David bravely conquered a lion and a bear and the giant Goliath in his youth. Yet now he admits how afraid he is. The enemies who seek to destroy him are relentless in pursuing him.

He didn’t deny the presence of fear in his heart, but he found courage in trusting God to do what could not be done by human power alone.

“He feared, but that fear
did not fill the whole area of his mind,
for he adds, ‘I will trust in Thee.’
It is possible, then, for fear and faith
to occupy the mind at the same moment.”
Charles Spurgeon

When painful memories get triggered, panic screams through my veins. I want to run and flee, but my feet feel stuck in quicksand that sucks me down and threatens to swallow me up. Fear fills the whole area of my mind, especially when it hits me without warning. It can be hard to think straight and to remember I can trust Jesus’ outstretched hand of rescue.

I have to talk myself through it. Where is this coming from? Why am I feeling this way? Am I in real danger here, or is it a hyper-sensitive reaction triggered from past painful experiences?

Traumatic events can embed themselves in our brains, and our bodies automatically react when these memories are triggered. We may feel helpless to control it, and it sometimes takes time to talk ourselves through what is real in the present moment. Even as we desperately cry out to Jesus, trusting and believing He is the only One who can and will rescue us, our bodies can be shaking with fear and anxiety. We may feel fear, but that does not mean we have no faith.

I have heard some Christians say fear and faith cannot co-exist, and I figured anyone knows better than I do. So I would beat myself up (and still do sometimes) – “If you can’t face this fear or get rid of fear entirely, you must not have faith.” But God is step by step teaching me that fear and faith can co-exist, and we don’t have to feel shame about the fear that still sometimes lingers on in our hearts and minds.

Jesus keeps loving us no matter what. It’s not about the measure of our love for Him. It’s about His perfect love for us! Even when our faith seems nonexistent or is dim. Even when the thunder of fear makes it hard to hear His voice. Even when we struggle with believing He is with us in the storm. We may waver, but His love never does. No matter where we are, He is whispering, “I’m here, Child. I understand your fears. I catch your tears. I will always love you.”

“Praise You In This Storm”
by Casting Crowns

Open Up Your Wounds to Jesus

open-to-Jesus

“The scab came off, leaving the wound wide open.” I heard something like this on a TV program in reference to opening the wound of an abusive past. In context, it was considered a bad thing to open and talk about the wound of abuse.

So often I hear it is better not to open up those past hurts. Just leave them in the past, some say. Don’t talk about it, or you get yourself all riled up again. Forgive and forget. Bury the past and move on.

It’s never that easy. When it comes to emotions, healing is a process. If pain oozes when a scar is scratched open, then we aren’t really healed in the first place. If a wound is opened, especially if it’s festering underneath that scab, it needs to be opened to the air in order for the infection to seep out and the wound to heal.

If we don’t let these past painful emotions out, they will seep out subconsciously into our actions and attitudes. In a negative way that will hurt us and others around us, especially our loved ones.

I’m not talking here about those triggered memories that open up around certain people and places. We do need to set boundaries to protect ourselves from being hurt again.

I’m not talking either about opening up these hurts to people who don’t understand and don’t offer a safe place for us to open up. That can only lead to further hurt and may even shut us down further.

I’m talking about dealing with a past issue of abuse itself. It is never good to let it brew inside of us. It will continue to fester in unintended ways if we don’t expose it to the air.

Many years ago, I was under the impression in the church I grew up in that going to a counselor is sinful. That we shouldn’t seek for help in man, only in God. But then I realized that just as doctors are means provided for us to help us with our physical ailments, trained and safe counselors can be used to bless us in dealing with emotional issues. The emotions God created us with are just as important as our physical bodies. We’d be an empty shell without them.

So I finally went to a counselor. The first one I went to helped me to a certain extent, but I felt like I wasn’t going any further. I went to a second one, a Christian one, but she would have me read certain books that I wasn’t ready to read and I didn’t feel that books that were graphically detailed helped me at all, and besides that, sometimes her “Christianese” reminded me of the pastor and church who abused me. It didn’t feel safe. Finally, by the grace of God, I found another Christian counselor who God especially used to help me. She continually validated me and helped me to work through emotions  and gain freedom from my abuser while at the same time pointing me to my true identity in Christ.

In Christ Jesus. He is who we need most of all. We need to let our past pain break wide open to Jesus so He can apply His healing balm to our troubled souls. Layer by layer, no matter how hard it is, we need to scratch those scabs off and expose them to the healing air of Jesus’ compassion, love, and grace.

His compassion knows no bounds. Maybe you’ve never been believed or validated. Jesus will believe you with all His being. I care so much, I hear you, I believe you. I am so sorry you are hurting, My child.

“Who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion.”

~ Psalm 103:4

His love reaches the deepest depths of our misery. Maybe you feel unloved or all mixed up about what love really is because of what you were wrongly told it meant. Jesus will teach you that love isn’t supposed to hurt. Love sacrifices for your well-being, not your harm. I love you, My child, so much I died for you.

“No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends.”
~ John 15:13 AMP

His grace is unending. Maybe you have been misunderstood, judged, and wrongly condemned. Maybe friends or family are mad at you or have deserted you because you told the truth. Jesus knows that and He will offer to you nothing but kindness and no condemnation. My child, in your desperation, you can find help and deliverance in Me, because I care about you so very much and desire to show you My favor. 

“But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!”
~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

“You’re My Little Girl” by Go Fish
(Men, just imagine you’re His little boy.)

Jesus longs for us
to rip open our deepest
wounds to Him!

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Linking up with: 

Holley – Coffee For Your Heart 

Jennifer – Tell His Story 

Kelly – Cheerleaders of Faith

Bonnie – Faith Barista’s Beloved Brews