To You who Shames Yourself


They sat across from me at lunch, two dear friends. And one said something like, “I don’t know anyone else who is harder on herself than you are.” She shook her head, and my other friend nodded. I could see they hurt for me, that it hurt them that I hurt myself with internal shaming words.

This morning my husband said I was beautiful. I could not receive the compliment because I was so ashamed that I had gained weight. Surely he must be just as disgusted with me as I was with myself. “I wish you would just believe me,” he said.

Tonight I remembered something I did wrong, and it nearly ate away at me. Something small, something that, if I told you what it was, you would laugh at the silliness of it. But my guilt loomed large. I made elaborate plans to debase myself, tell on myself, and ask someone else to feel shame toward me. Then I let out my breath, asked God for guidance, and He let me know this sin was safe in His arms, that I didn’t need to publicly humiliate myself about it. He would take it, forgive it, and set my feet aright.

Self shaming does me (and you) no good.

Self-shaming doesn’t produce fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, self control. Instead, this kind of self-humilation breeds hatred, sadness, discord, impatience (with yourself), harshness, fickleness, and out-of-control thoughts.

So why do we do it?

What do we gain?

What if self-shaming is our way of controlling ourselves? Or it’s a scheme to try to make ourselves perfect so we don’t need the help of God? Or it’s one of those voices that hollered in childhood, and we’re so used to it (it’s our normal) that to be without it feels utterly terrifying?

What does the voice of God bring?

Conviction, yes, but with peace. Hope. Love. Affection. Tenderness. Deep kindness. Grace, grace, grace.

So if you’re spending your internal life on shaming thoughts, perhaps that means the voice of God has been crowded out?

And maybe it means it’s time to dethrone that bully voice that sneers antagonism your way and instead, enthrone God’s sweet, gentle, cheerleading voice.

I can’t offer exactly how to do this because I’m in the middle of it right now, but I can say the first step is to finally be OVER this angry, shaming voice–to absolutely realize it does you no good benefit. And then, once you realize that, ask God to please quiet the shaming voice in lieu of His encouraging one.

Because the truth is: you are amazing. And even though it pains me to write this: I am amazing. We are both made in the image of our amazing God who offers amazing grace. And as a good Father, He lavishes love and kindness on his dear children, just as we (as good parents) love our children with our words (except that He is ten quadrillion times better than we are; in fact He is utterly OTHER than us. He is love personified.)

Part of the re-story process is turning away from things that de-story and destroy us. And right now for me? It’s that shaming voice. Prayers appreciated.

How about you? Do you struggle with this? Or do you have a friend or family member that struggles with being hard on themselves? How do you help them see how amazing they are?

{Aside: prayers appreciated as I work on launching the re-story podcast. It’s been a long time coming, and there are some technical issues still to be worked out. I hope to launch in February.}