Identity is such a touchy subject for so many and yet our identity affects how we move through life and interact with others. We will only have a true view of our identity if we view ourselves in light of God. Our original design is as the image bearer of God, we were made as the imago dei (image of God). We were made for:
- Relationship with God
- Relationship with others
Our true identity is one of living unashamed: Living life under the light and life of Jesus. But this identity doesn’t just start with Jesus but instead it starts at the very beginning…
Genesis 2:25 “Adam and his wife were both naked and they felt no shame.”
At the very beginning, Adam and Eve lived with no shame. They walked with God, they walked with each other. They were naked, enjoying intimacy that only comes from nothing being hidden. They were unashamed. But if you continue moving into chapter 3 we see that once in the garden, they are deceived and sin. They eat of the tree of good and evil. Genesis 3:8-11 highlights that one byproduct of their deception and sin was shame.
They recognized that they were naked, they were ashamed and they hid from God.
How often is this our reaction? When we mess up, when we sin, instead of turning to God we run away and hide. This reaction is rooted in shame.
You see Shame robs us of intimacy in our relationship. Shame causes us to hide from God and others.
Adam and Eve were made without shame to be naked in the garden. Naked before God and each other. If we get past the idea of them walking naked in the garden we recognize that they were not just naked in the physical but they were naked also in their intimacy with each other. Nothing was hidden.
The image bearer of God: man and woman, was made for intimacy with God and each other. Shame robs us of the very intimacy we were created for.
So the question is, what is shame?
Shame: a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.
Shame is a painful social emotion that can be seen as resulting from comparison of action to standards, comparison of self with social standard. Shame may stem from a volitional action or simply self-regard, no action by the shamed being is required: simply existing is enough.
It is interesting to me that the root of the word shame is thought to derive from an older word meaning “to cover,” as such, covering oneself, literally or figuratively, is a natural expression of shame.
Brene Brown a research professor who has spent 13 years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness and shame says the following about shame:
“Shame is the most powerful, master emotion. It’s the fear that we’re not good enough.” Brene Brown
“Shame is the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love.” Brene Brown
“The difference between shame and guilt is the difference between I am bad and I did something bad.” Brene Brown
The difference between shame and guilt is the difference between I am bad and I did something bad. One speaks identity and one speaks behavior. BE vs. Do. The enemy will always try to get us focused on Doing instead of Being. Our Doing should always flow out of our Being.
You see, per the usual, shame is a false identity that the enemy tries to get us to buy into, saying that we are bad because we did something bad. But the truth is that although we are sinners, when we allow Jesus to redeem our identity, we no longer have to identify as a sinner but instead we identify as children of God.
Marilyn J. Sorensen says it this way: “Unlike guilt, which is the feeling of doing something wrong, shame is the feeling of being something wrong.” While guilt is seeing what you’ve done, shame is seeing yourself as a failure because of what you’ve done.
2 Cor. 7:10 says, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”
- Guilt – the true emotion of wrong actions (sin) is godly sorrow and can lead us to repentance and thus salvation.
- Shame – camps us out on the act of our guilt saying this is where our identity lies.
Shame says that because I am flawed, I am unacceptable. Grace says that though I am flawed, I am cherished.
Shame happened in the garden with Adam and Eve and it led them to hide instead of going to the one who created them. (Genesis 3)
1 John 1:9 tells us the truth – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Psalms 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”
Through Christ we do not have to live under shame, but our identity has been redeemed.
Romans 10:11 – “Anyone who believes in Him (Jesus) will never be put to shame.”
When we believe in Him we will not be put to shame. Jesus took on shame so that when we believe we don’t have to. Shame has been a thing that God has been speaking to me about in recent days. Shame is not a respecter of persons and is not found in just one area of our life.
But Shame is not of God. Shame is of the enemy and is a tool to keep us feeling alone and to torment us. Shame is born out of darkness, out of a lack of transparency and vulnerability. Shame is a way to keep us silent. Brene Brown says “Shame needs three things to grow exponentially in our lives: secrecy, silence, and judgement.”
As I look back at different areas of my life where shame once reigned there’s a theme. Wherever shame reigned there was something that I was hiding –
- perceived sin,
- hurt, etc.
…in each of those areas I felt alone, I wondered if I would ever be free and if God could ever change the situation.
They say hindsight is 20/20 and I find this to be true. As I look back I see that the moment those issues were brought into the light, shame no longer reigned. Instead of shame, hope was born. And as I continued to keep it in the light, exposed to those God had placed in my life, the more hope and freedom flourished.
You see when something is in darkness, hidden away and in the clutches of shame the enemy can wreak havoc. BUT the very moment that it is brought into the light, the enemy no longer has a claim.
Ephesians 5:11-14 “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them… But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.”
True purity (a life devoted to God) is allowing God to shine his light through our whole life. Purity is the act of allowing God to shine light on the dark areas of our lives so that shame cannot reign but our part is bringing this into the open with those that we trust.
What we bring into the light the enemy can no longer manipulate. So the questions remain:
Are you living life under the light and life of Jesus as one unashamed?
And, will you allow the light and life of Jesus to shine on you and redeem you?