To You who Shames Yourself

shame

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.}

Comments

  1. ToBe Visible February 27, 2016 #

    This is very true and sadly so many of us struggle with this self love. I struggle with this a lot. I understand we are all sinners and through Gods grace we ask for forgiveness and try to stop sinning and follow God’s direction. How do we deal when others sin against us continuously and won’t repent? Also I know God loves everyone but it drives me crazy when a person living in sin says God loves me this way- he made me this way and I don’t need to change. This seems so hypocritical to me… A murderer, cheater, liar that doesn’t change or even apologize for his sin … How can we say they are perfect just that way…. So confusing….

    • Mary DeMuth February 27, 2016 #

      Good questions here. The question is, if someone loves God dearly, then why would they possibly not want their lives to reflect Him? “God made me this way” is a terrible excuse, and is a lie. It absolves the person of trying or repenting or truly changing.

      • Tracy Ready February 29, 2016 #

        This a great article that sheds a much needed light on a HUGE issue in womanhood. My honest & humble experience has been that when people say “God made me this way” as a “last resort” what they’re REALLY saying is, “I’m at my wit’s end” & “I don’t have any hope.” No, it’s not the most Christianly thing to admit but it’s certainly a secret reality for many people.

        This is why the power of His grace and strength in our weakness is so pivotal as we walk thru the change process & become an active participant in unpacking why we struggle with what we are struggling with.

        Faith that He will deliver is one part of the journey. Action to take the courageous steps to do our part is the other.

  2. Ingrid Hubik Freire January 25, 2016 #

    Thank you Mary. I’m in the midst of fighting this monstrous voice myself. Too loud for too long. I remind myself over and over that God is my “Emmanuel” and “The Living God who sees me” and will make a way.

    • Mary DeMuth January 25, 2016 #

      He will make a way. You are not alone in this journey, Ingrid.

  3. Fleur January 23, 2016 #

    I used to be so like this! I’d ruin whole days for myself fretting about the “horrible” thing or things I’d done in the past… A verse which greatly helped me was “Such trust have we through Christ to Godwards not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything of ourselves, our sufficiency is of God”.
    Keep up the fight to turn on the light! Hugs!

    • Mary DeMuth January 23, 2016 #

      Love your name, Fleur! And great reminder in that verse.

  4. healing January 21, 2016 #

    I understand this as well. Isaiah 43:4 is my verse: You are precious and honored in my sight. Thanks for the reminder, and glad to see the comments back!

    • Mary DeMuth January 21, 2016 #

      I’m glad you’re back commenting, and that’s a great verse to remind us all about our place in God’s eyes.

  5. Trudy Den Hoed January 21, 2016 #

    I really identify with this, Mary. That self-shame seems like my default mode. I try to keep reminding myself of Romans 8:1 – that there is NO condemnation in Christ Jesus. But it’s quite a process. I long to permanently “dethrone that bully voice that sneers antagonism your way and instead, enthrone God’s sweet, gentle, cheerleading voice.” Thank you for understanding and for this reminder.

    • Mary DeMuth January 21, 2016 #

      I’m with you, Trudy. I wish I was better in this battle for the mind. But maybe we can struggle together?

      • Trudy Den Hoed January 21, 2016 #

        Yes, we’ll have to encourage one another 🙂 It’s always nice to go on this journey with others who understand. Blessings and hugs to you!

    • Sita February 27, 2016 #

      Me too, Trudy. On the journey with you, precious lady.

    • Tracy Ready February 29, 2016 #

      Very noble to admit @Trudy. I see you posted this a month ago. How are you doing?

      • Trudy Den Hoed February 29, 2016 #

        Still on this ongoing journey of remembering who we are in Christ instead of listening to those lies. Thank you for asking, Tracy.

  6. Mary DeMuth January 20, 2016 #

    Testing comment system.