God wants us to have a right understanding of self. When we let Him heal us, He gives us that understanding. Those who know me and my testimony are aware of my past abusive relationships. There were times that some would say to me, “No one can make you feel a certain way, it is up to you if you choose to feel ashamed or hurt or guilty.” To a point that may be true, but when you share your life with someone who repeatedly says abusive things to you and/or repeatedly physically abuses you, you will start to believe those things are true and that you deserve to be treated that way. When we decide that we do not deserve that treatment, and stick close to “the one who is closer than a brother,” and His Word, He will bring us up out of those relationships and lies that we end up believing about ourselves. God does not want us to be hurt by others and I do not believe He wants us to stay in those kinds of relationships.
Guilt is a God-given emotion that takes place when our mistakes and faults are revealed in our own minds or publicly exposed. It may be a personal reminder of our own limitations and sinfulness.
Shame, however, says that the individual person is bad, of no value, or unworthy to exist–that we are hopelessly abnormal, unlovable, of no value, and worthless. Shame begins externally with a subtle implication through silence and neglect or with verbal condemnation through words of abuse. When such messages are repeated often enough, whether through words or actions, they become internalized into a false belief about ourselves: “I must be bad to deserve such terrible treatment.” This becomes the heart and soul of our identity and the beginning of thousands of future, wrong choices for the one who is suffering from shame.
We can begin to heal from our shame when we identify and confess the lies that we have believed about ourselves. Then we must start to replace those lies from satan with God’s Biblical truths. Truths about who God is and who we are as His beloved children. We are of immeasurable worth in God’s eyes, righteous through the blood and Jesus and, therefore, without condemnation.
Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
Romans 8:31-39 “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
II Corinthians 5:17, 21 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new…For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
Sometimes when we have been victimized over time, we become so shame-filled that we are emotionally bound by that shame, even though we may think that we mentally understand our worth in God’s eyes. Or, if we have actually committed shameful acts, a deep sense of shame may remain even after confession and repentance. Those acts, by others and/or by ourselves, must be brought into the presence of Jesus, and perhaps more than just one time. We need to remember that we suffered the abuse over a period of time, and it will not just go away suddenly. Ultimately, only God brings full emotional cleansing and freedom from such bondage.
I know that I would not be where I am in my walk with Jesus today had I not made the decision to leave the abuse relationship and cling to the Lord. There truly is a light at the end of the tunnel if we only trust Him.