As we seek out our path to wholeness and living free, I think it’s very important to understand the distinct differences between guilt and shame. I think we can all agree that we want to live a guilt-free and shame-free life - however one serves for growth and can align us with our purpose while the other leaves us isolated, in bondage and distracts us from our purpose.
- Guilt says, “I have done something wrong”.
- Shame says “Something is wrong with me”.
- Guilt tells us to run to God, intimacy, purpose, truth and freedom and covers us in forgiveness and sets us free through repentance.
- Shame tells us to run away - from God, intimacy, purpose, truth and freedom and covers us in fear and condemnation.
Let’s talk for a moment about repentance. The term “repentance” has a negative connotation to many people and has been misrepresented, in my opinion. My whole life I correlated repentance with punishment and condemnation. Punishment and condemnation are actually the fruit of shame.
The true meanings for the word “repentance” as it is used in the Old and New Testament of the Bible is to “turn away from” and “change your mind”. When we do something that hurts others or ourselves, feelings of guilt have the power to change us (aka lead us to repentance). In other words, guilt has the power to convict us to “turn away” from what we have done, “change our minds” and therefore think differently so we act differently. True repentance brings about change so we stop hurting ourselves and others.
While guilt can bring what is in the dark into the light, shame drives us to hide and we become prey to unreasonable fear - fear that we will be discovered for the mistake we really are. When we partner with shame, we adopt a false representation of who we are and we can fall into a pit of “not enough-ness” that can poison every facet of our lives.
Here are some questions to help you uncover the root of shame in your life. Let me clarify first. Shame is not our destiny. We were never designed to feel or know shame. Shame is a tool the enemy uses to distract us from the truth of who we are in God and the purpose God has for our lives. So, when you answer these questions, know that you are revealing the LIES that need to be brought into the light so you can reclaim your power!
- Where in your life are you hiding and what are you hiding from?
- When did you first believe the lie that you were not enough or less than?
- Do you have any crippling fears that keep you from living in true purpose full of joy and peace?
Shame often results from abuse.
Let’s define abuse. Abuse is to use an object for a purpose that it was not designed for. If you have ever been sexually abused, shame can follow if we focus on the abuse from the perspective of ME - why did this happened to ME, why didn’t anyone protect ME, why didn’t anyone believe ME, why did they pick ME? We focus on the “me” perspective and deduct that there must be something fundamentally wrong with me - instead of shifting the perspective and focusing on the FACT that the person who did the abusive act was trying to fulfill a need with something that was not designed to fulfill it. This simple shift has the power to set someone free right in this moment! Praise God!
We do this with food as well. We abuse food when we use it to fulfill a purpose it was not intended for such as connection, comfort, an escape, punishment, avoidance, control, excitement, etc. Food’s function is to provide the nutrients and energy our bodies need to think, move, interact with others and fulfill our purpose every day. Exercise and sleep can also fall into the category of abuse when we use for reasons they were not designed for such as control (exercise) and to check out of life (sleep).
This in turn can lead us to an abusive relationship with our bodies as extra weight could subconsciously (or consciously) fulfill a need to feel secure, for example. There may be some security in carrying a lot of extra weight that serves as a protection from unwanted attention. There may be security in having a lean, fit body and presenting to the world that you have it all together when inside you are a mess (- this was my source of abuse). There may be security in keeping the body you have always been told is just who you are, even though you hate it and don't believe it represents who you really are. There may be security in blending into the background so no one expects too much out of you. There may be security in having a weight issue so you always have a reason for why you haven’t reached your full potential in other areas of your life. There may be security in people taking care of you and your health issues so you won’t be alone.
There may also be a feeling of connection or love when you are eating certain foods or drinking alcohol. But food and alcohol were not designed to fulfill our need for intimacy and connection. So, no matter how much we eat and drink, we will never quench the thirst our souls have to know God intimately and the desire of our hearts to connect with and serve people. Because of this truth, often times we discover we need more and more and more (food, alcohol, social media likes, text messages, tv, shoes, etc.) to feel the feeling of counterfeit connection. Then as the side effect of weight/debt/depression comes on because of our choices and our health/relationships/bank account/ deteriorates - we feel out of control and don’t know what to do about it and we make the assumption that there must be something wrong with "me" because I can’t stop the behavior. This can drive us to feel very self-conscious as we navigate our day to day life feeling like other people can see that we are broken.
Shame pulls us into isolation and brings up fears that keeps us small.
I am here today to tell you freedom is as simple as shifting from shame (there is something wrong with me) to guilt (admitting the actions, thoughts and behaviors that we need to turn away from and change your mindset around). Sound too simple? That is exactly what the enemy would like for us to believe, but what if it really was that simple?
Here are some truths to stand on.
- You are not what you have done.
- You are not what has happened to you.
- You are a child of the Creator of the Universe and he created you in HIS image!
- You have a unique, God-breathed purpose for your life.
- You can trust that God is going to bring your purpose and destiny to completion. All of your mistakes have already been factored in - so no matter how bad you think you have messed up - you are still living out your purpose.
- You can exchange your shame for the truth of who God says you are right now!
Here are some questions to ponder:
- Where do you need to let go of shame and unload the guilt instead?
- What do you need to turn away from that is hurting yourself and others?
- Where do you need to ask for forgiveness so you can be free?
- Where are the places of brokenness that you need God to shine the light of truth on?
- Where do you need to change your mindset?
I am believing that the God of miracles is going to show up in every open heart who reads this and He is bringing a flood of forgiveness, restoration and power to your life!
As CEO of The Healthy Edge, I believe that your journey to wholeness and health is an inside job. A diet does not fix the reasons why you binge, diet, obsess, self-sabotage and emotionally eat. Being healthy is more than what you put in your mouth, it’s about what you put in your mind and healing the brokenness in your soul. I would be honored to hear your story and share with you more about the freedom and wholeness available through The Healthy Edge journey. CLICK HERE to schedule a free coaching session with me!.