Column Post by Lisa Easterling
I picked up an old journal today. I found the passages I was specifically seeking, but I also found other things—the kind that crimson-tints the cheeks and makes a girl wonder why in the world she would ever write something so silly, so childish, so foolish.
I forced myself to read a little longer than I wanted to, just for the effect of digging for wisdom. I always want to learn lessons from hurtful or embarrassing things so they aren’t wasted by nothing gained.
What I learned today is that in past years I let my priorities get pretty mixed up. While the cumulative damage is not nearly as awful as it could have been, and is actually probably mostly just in my own mind (because I can be very, very hard on myself), I don’t ever want to forget this burning of my cheeks over not putting things—or more importantly, people—in the correct order.
Shame can distort.
With pride as a gut reaction, it can send us into denial—and trust me when I tell you, it ain’t pretty. If you’ve ever seen someone fiercely defending errant behavior, you’ve seen how pathetic it looks. It takes us nowhere but farther down.
Shame can defeat.
When remorse becomes a club, it can bludgeon us into the ground and scream our failures into our reddened ears so loudly that any whisper of reassurance from God is drowned out completely. This leaves us believing we are a weeping, worthless mess in no shape to love and serve ourselves or anyone else.
Shame can drive.
This is when we respond rather than react, motivated by a humble spirit (which takes more work than reacting in the natural), and it works best when it involves a prayerful heart. This kind of motivation is powerful, and can bring immense growth in our lives if we’ll stick with it long enough for the whole lesson to be revealed.
It’s not fun to feel ashamed. Those moments are some of the toughest we will ever endure, that flushing of face and deep regret over things we said or did or wrote…or thought. Yes, even our thoughts, for therein nestles the birthplace of our words and actions.
Does shame distort you into defense mode, defeat you into the dirt, or drive you toward discernment and growth?
I challenge you, sweet friend, to allow God to use episodes of shame to bring you closer to Him, to grow you and stretch you and plant His wisdom deeply into your mind and heart. When shame pounces, let your immediate response be, “Okay, God, I’m feeling pretty sheepish here. What have you got for me to learn from this?”
And then watch Him turn your blushing to beauty as everyone around you watches you bloom.
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P.S. We’d love to know your thoughts, so please be sure to comment below. Each of our commenters will be entered in a drawing for our current FREE book giveaway, Mothers & Daughters: Mending a Strained Relationship by author Teena Stewart.
Lisa Easterling is a lifelong resident of the Tampa Bay area alongside her husband Steve, five children, and two grandchildren. A pioneer for home education in Florida, she has served in various areas of Christian ministry for the past 32 years. Lisa is a lifelong writer, editor, creative writing coach, and Site Director for Write Where It Hurts. Her favorite place to write is near the ocean, and she particularly loves helping others to fall in love with words. Lisa blogs at www.lisaeasterling.com and can be reached by following @writepraylove on Twitter or emailing email@example.com.
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5 thoughts on “When you are ashamed of what you have said (or written)”
Thank you for something I needed to hear today.
You are most welcome, dear friend. I wish you God’s very best.
Shame does indeed do those things – distort, defeat, and drive. I really needed to read this. I commented on another post on this site that was one shame as well.
The shame I experienced in my life, both false and true, drove me to my knees in repentance.
Shame of also both false and true also distorted who I was – it was used by my abusive mother to control and debilitate, humiliate and degrade. She tried to make me believe that I was a wretched human being, and she actually did a good job of succeeding … because that is where shame met defeat. It is amazing how an abuser can use shame as a form of control – to always keep you wanting to make the abuser love you when they have no love for you at all.
The ‘good’ shame – the kind that brings us to repentance is the good kind because God doesn’t use shame to humiliate us, debilitate us or degrade us – He does it to show us our need of a Saviour … He lovingly brings us to our knees.
I’ve lived many a year overcoming the effects of the abuse and I really don’t know if I will ever be truly healed of it – but each day is another opportunity of overcoming it. It’s hard, it’s brutal – but my Father in heaven is the only parent I have now – how blessed I am that my name is carved into the palm of His hand. 🙂
“because that is where shame met defeat.”
My friend, you nailed it. I love how you worded your heart here! I praise God that He is bringing healing to your heart and soul, and I pray that He continues to grow you farther and farther from the lies the Enemy would have you embrace as truth. May you be encouraged, strengthened, and deeply blessed as you continue your healing journey.
Thanks for this insightful article, Lisa. I was just talking with someone who is literally crippled with shame not for something she did or said but for things that were done to her as a child. Pray that she will find an intimate relationship with Christ Jesus!