Isaiah 54:4 says, “Fear not, for you shall not be ashamed; neither be confounded and depressed, for you shall not be put to shame….”.
Shame is often difficult to recognize. We hear people talk about low self-esteem or having no self-confidence. The terms self-hate and insecurity are often used to describe people who aren’t happy with themselves. Often though what I think we’re really talking about is shame. We feel ashamed of how we look, embarrassed of who we are or things we’ve done, or things that have been done to us. We feel like we’re not good enough and we’re ashamed of that inability to measure up. We have no confidence because we’re ashamed of the things we’re not, and we’re ashamed of the things we are that we wish we weren’t. Shame causes us to feel depressed and depression causes us to feel bad that we’re not happy and we feel more shame about who we are. Often we don’t recognize that shame is the root cause.
Brene’ Brown is the author of a book about shame called The Gifts of Imperfection. In her book she discusses circumstances in which shame thrives. “Shame hates it when we reach out and tell our story. It hates having words wrapped around it-it can’t survive being shared. Shame loves secrecy. The most dangerous thing to do after a shaming experience is hide or bury our story. When we bury our story, the shame metastasizes.”
When we step out of our shame and are able to speak openly about it in a supportive environment, shame dissappears. Along with it goes guilt, depression, anxiety and any other negative emotion riding the coat tails of shame. We become empowered.
It may seem strange to talk about Eminem here, but if you’ve ever seen the movie 8 Mile depicting his life, there’s a scene that turns everything around for him. He’s in a rap battle against a man he knows is going to bring up every embarrassing, shameful detail of his life. Eminem chooses to use all of those negative, shameful, embarrassing events in his rap as proof of his life struggle, legitimizing his skills and connecting with others in the same struggle. In the end he leaves his opponent with nothing to rap about and wins the battle and respect. When he took ownership of those things and addressed them openly he became empowered. Those dirty little secrets no longer had power over him. They became a moot subject and worked in his favor to help him relate to others sharing his struggle.
The Bible tells us we shall not be ashamed, confounded, or depressed. The way we win that battle is sharing our stories. Using the shame we’ve felt to connect with others in the same struggle allows us to take the secrecy out of it. When we share it shame can no longer stay a secret and no longer have power over us. Think about stories we’ve seen of someone who was obese struggling with weight lose. They always describe a feeling of shame. When they face that shame they gain control of their lives and whether they lose the weight or not they become empowered. They often inspire others to lose weight or inspire others to be confident in who they are, how they are, and battle body shaming. We were not meant to live ashamed, we were meant to live empowered.
Find someone who needs to hear your story and share it.