Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Guilt and Shame, Shame and Guilt

 This topic has been spinning around in my head for a few days now. Shame. I've felt it. I've lived it. I've been glued in place, unable to move forward... unable to move closer to God because of it.

Shame and guilt are two emotions most of us have experienced at one point or another. Guilt is what we feel when we do something wrong to someone else, hurting others through our words or actions. It's when we go against others' moral standards. Basically, it's "I did something bad."

Shame, on the other hand, is what we feel when we go against our own personal standards and values. Instead of "I did something bad," shame takes it much deeper - "I AM bad." It's self-defeating and often harmful.

It amazes me how easy it is for me to feel guilt and shame. For years, I blamed myself, in part, for my brothers' deaths. I blamed myself for the abuse we all endured. I blamed myself for things that happened to others, which I really had no part of.

And shame? I was molested as a young girl... and the shame that came from these few years is something that I'm not sure I have ever entirely rid myself of. Tack on that the "deserved" shame I've taken on - the shame caused by my own sin - and you've got someone so deeply bound, love is always just out of reach.

It's like being chained to concrete blocks and thrown overboard. But being chained to shame has a lot of negative effects - namely, it keeps you from being able to have a relationship with God. It keeps you from feeling God's grace and love, and in believing in Him and His promises. It keeps you from love - from believing you deserve a healthy, happy, loving relationship with anyone. It leads you to self-destructive habits.

God doesn't want us to feel shame. He wants us to let go of our shame and turn to him. If this shame is brought on by your own sin, feel comfort in the Lord's forgiveness. If it is caused by others, release yourself from that shame and trust in God.

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