From my earliest memories, shame has been a constant part of my life. I've read that it's a common thing for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. (One day -- maybe -- I'll share some of my story here.)
Shame is like a gray fog that hangs over everything. It's a dark heaviness that sits in the middle of your chest and runs deep into your abdomen. It weighs down on your shoulders and makes you lower your head, not daring to look anyone in the eye (especially not God). It's a tired sadness that something is terribly wrong with you and that no matter how hard you try, you'll never be good enough to get rid of it.
I was fortunate and blessed to have a dear friend trained in healing prayer ministry to walk with me when I first began to remember. We spent many hours laboring through the mire of emotions. Anger, grief, hate, fear, betrayal, loss, shame. She courageously faced every memory alongside me, helping to identify the lies I believed, praying with me to ask Jesus for truth and healing. She rejoiced as the Lord took the awfulness, the filth, and gave me His truth and His peace. It's been several years since we made that journey. God has set me free from so much.
But shame has continued to drift out from dark corners at unexpected moments. When my husband told me he was through with me and wanted a divorce, shame grew so thick and black, I could barely see.
It doesn't matter what anyone says, a woman being rejected by her husband is going to feel shame. There's just no getting around it. That deep sense of failure, of something inherently wrong with you, that something is missing in you as a woman, that you cannot measure up no matter how hard you try -- it fills your entire being. It was in those desperate days, the beauty of the cross became so real, so solid, so true. I hung on for dear life.
Grace removes shame. Grace comes into the darkness, that thick, suffocating fog, and begins to radiate. A quiet light that gets brighter and brighter, dissolving the darkness, sweeping everything clean, making my soul beautiful. Grace is Jesus saying, "Dear heart, I know you can't do it. It's okay. I've already done it. Now come rest here, Little One. Rest in My love."
I wish I could say that shame is completely gone from my life. But there are times (like today) when that gray heaviness creeps over me, whispering accusations, drawing me into isolation. "If they knew you, really knew you, they would leave -- just like he did. Because that's what you deserve."
Yet Grace is quick to reach out and pull me close. "I will never leave you. I will never forsake you. Don't be afraid, for I have redeemed you. I have summoned you by name. You are Mine."
"I sought the LORD and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant, their faces are never covered with shame." Psalm 34:4, 5
"I trust in Your unfailing love, my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, for He has been good to me." Psalm 12:5, 6