Notes from the book, Rid of My Disgrace (chapter on Shame)
-"a hemorrage of the soul" -Jean-Paul Sartre
-painful, unexpected, and disorienting experience
-has the power to condemn, reject, disgust
-a sort of mental and emotional disintegration that makes us acutely aware of our inadequacies, shortcomings, and a shrinking feeling of failure
-simultaneously self-negating and self-absorbed
Shamed people feel exposed. Although shame doesn't necessarily involve an acutal observing audience that is present to witness one's shortcomings, there is often the imagery of how one's destructive self would appear to others. Shame is utterly isolating.
To be covered in shame is to feel the self engulfed in something disgusting, even hideous. It may seem extreme, but the experience of shame feels like a prolonged, torturous death.
People who have been sexually assaulted have been personally violated, their sense of self trampled, their boundaries defiled. If you are a victim of assault, the desire to hide from others is understandable. Maybe you self-harm, concoct complicated eating regiments, or become compulsive in your behaviors. You feel guilty so you self-punish. You want to escape so you drink, do drugs. Or you're cruel to others or sabotage relationships that should be places of refuge. Whatever the behavior, you're destroying your life and you know it.
While your experience may compel you to cry out to God, you may simply want to shut down emotionally. But if you minimize your abuse, you may find yourself stuck in a tragic rut of nameless shame. You may be confused about how God sees you or sees your sexuality. He may seem distant. Is he disgusted, hateful toward you, or completely uninvolved?
While escape, retreat, or hard living is a common response to shame brought on by sexual assault (other other means?), there are other subtle means of escape including moral and religious achievement.
Trying harder to be a better Christian isn't the solution to your shame. This tactic is much more difficult to discern in yourself and in others. After all, being a good person is a virtue, right? But this pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps mentality is simply a Christless self-salvation project wrapped in Bible-talk. And when you're unable to live up to your own (or someone else's) moral or religous standards, you will simply heap more shame upon yourself.
JESUS CHRIST is the REMEDY, the ONLY REMEDY for your SHAME
Jesus actively pursued outsiders and outcasts, those who experienced shame. He purposely reached out to those outside the camp because they were considered "unclean"-morally, socially, religiously. His solidarity with the shamed and excluded of his day led to the ultimate experience of shame-his crucifixion. Christ exchanged the joy he should have had so he could share the hardship, shame, and reproach with the people of God.
Hebrews 12:2 Jesus,...who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
despised-to care nothing for, disregard, be unafraid of, or consider something not important to be concerned with when evaluated against something else
Jesus both shared our shame and bore our shame so we can have freedom from it's dread and power.
"And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with all it's legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. -Colossians
Not only does God heal your wounds, but he also defends you and avenges the shameful things done to you (and the shameful things you've done).
Shame whispers the lie that you are too stained for grace. Jesus' cross and resurrection proclaim the opposite.
The greatest fear of a person marked by shameful defilement is the fear of exposure.
"But if we walk in light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleans us from all unrighteousness." 1 John
It's Jesus' death on the cross that forgives our sins and cleanses the stains (resulting from sins we have committed and that have been committed against us) on our soul. The glorious result is a life purified of all unrighteousness, no longer defiled, but rather cleansed through a relationship with Jesus because of his death on the cross to remove sin and its stain of filth. Because of the cross, we can be fully exposed, because God no longer identifies us by what we have done or by what has been done to us. If we trust in Jesus, God sees us Jesus is: pure, righteous, and without blemish. We have been given the righteousness of Christ. We can't add to it or subtract from it. In Jesus, you are made completely new.