It’s a terrible thing to feel shame. I remember from a very early age having a sense of self-consciousness, shame, and being very easily embarrassed. Even when I was only 4 or 5 I clearly remember times when I failed to live up to someone’s expectations or rules.
Looking back I know the situations weren’t that big a deal but as a child I felt like a failure whenever I screwed up. This feeling made me very driven to strive for excellence and acceptance in everything. I had to get good grades. I had to make my parents happy. I needed to please people so they would like me and if I didn’t think I could please them then I became very shy and would just avoid interaction completely. It was very stressful and I lived with a lot of fear.
I was blessed and grades came easily. They were something I could control. However, people were another whole ball game. I couldn’t make them like me and some of them actively teased or bullied me as kids are apt to do sometimes. I internalized the things they said and felt that shame creep up again. It didn’t matter if what they said wasn’t true. I had failed to make them like me and that was my crime in my own mind.
I needed to feel back in control again. I needed comfort. My parents were good and loving and took great care of my 3 brothers and I. My mom was an awesome cook and food was always a temptations so around age 10 it became my “drug of choice”. It started small with just sneaking food at home. But then I couldn’t do it too much or I’d get caught and ruin my parents’ image of me.
So next came stealing food from different sources, then stealing money for food, then stealing money for other things.
This became a vicious cycle. Feel shame, steal something to feel better, then remember that stealing is wrong and feel like crap again. Then back around again.
I felt like a failure. I wasn’t good enough for my friends, one day my parents would find out about all this and be disappointed, and most of all I knew God could never forgive me for willfully doing something I knew to be wrong.
This cycle went on for a couple of very dark years. But then my mom discovered my secret and confronted me about it. She sent me to my room and took what felt like FOREVER to come talk to me. Later she told me that she went to pray. As I waited, my stomach was in knots and dread filled my heart. I had been found out and now what God already knew would become real in my family too. I was a thief, a liar, a failure. Who could love or accept someone like that?
I had been to church many times and I had heard that God is loving, but I felt so unlovable and I did such bad things. No way He’d still love me right?
When my mom finally came in she didn’t yell or tell me how disappointed she was. Instead she asked me about how I’d been feeling and why I’d been doing these things. She saw the lies I’d been believing and shared with me about the true love of God.
All of us have failed to be perfect. All of us have gone astray and rebelled willfully in some way. There’s no way we can rescue ourselves from this brokenness. God sent his Son Jesus into this broken world to live the most excellent, sinless, praiseworthy life possible. He showed us what it looks like to live a perfect life that could please God and we see by comparison our own inability to live that way. But he died on the cross to take the penalty that I deserve.
He knows the WORST thing about me and still loved me enough to die in my place! All my failures, all of my bad choices, all of my shame was nailed to the cross with Him.
He ACCEPTS me as I am and wants to be with me forever. I don’t have to perform for Him to make him love me. He loves me unconditionally and that makes me want to follow him and please him out of thankfulness rather than fear or shame.
He’s here with me now to guide me and strengthen me to live the best life possible and experience all that He has for me. I’m still not perfect and it’s not like I never struggle with those same old lies sometimes. But whenever those dark voices whisper to me, I now have His loving voice through His Words in the Bible.
The dark voice calls me failure, thief, liar, unlovable.
His voice calls me forgiven, called, beloved, his daughter!
The Bible says that to all who receive Him (Jesus) and who BELIEVE in his name, he gives them the right to become children of God…a part of his family forever.
In Hebrews 13:5 it says that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I never have to worry that he’ll change his mind about me.
All of us have deeply felt needs that go unmet. God came that we could have life to the fullest and to meet all of our deepest needs according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus.
If you haven’t taken the time to get to know Him, I strongly encourage you to give Him a shot. I think you will find that Jesus is better than anything this life has to offer you and He’s more wonderful than anything that death can take away.