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Overcoming Shame

My first year of college was probably one of the hardest years of my life. It was the first time I felt like I didn’t have a community, and everything I found identity in was taken away. I had never felt so alone, and I questioned absolutely everything about my faith.

There was a moment when I remember being on the phone with my mom confused about who I was as a person. But she encouraged me to read the Bible with her from the start of Genesis to the end of Revelation. We emailed scripture back and forth and wherever one stopped, the other would pick up until we had finished the entire Bible.

Growing up in the church, I always knew the Bible stories, but rereading about Moses and the children of Israel was the perfect illustration and parallel to my life at the time. Before truly walking with God, I was broken, insecure, lost, empty, confused, and prideful. I was just like the children of Israel who were trapped in bondage under Pharaoh’s rule. But instead of a king, I was trapped by worldly chains like the opinions of others, idols of success, and the desire to be perfect.

That’s actually how I found God or should I say He found me. It’s almost as if He showed up and poured out His grace, love, and mercy all over me. I was overwhelmed by His faithfulness and how He chose to love me in spite of my brokenness. He pursued me when I didn’t want to be pursued, and accepted me when I couldn’t even accept myself.

So in October of 2012, I made the decision to rededicate my life to Christ and fully surrender myself to Him. I remember standing in church one Sunday morning sobbing because I finally felt whole and loved. It was my first step towards a relationship with Christ, and since then, I have been determined to live solely for Him.

But a few months ago, I was reading a devotional and it's like the gospel hit me all over again. Again, God gave me a glimpse of how much He loves us as people, and that’s when I realized that shame was a huge part of my story.

Up until that point, I honestly never knew I struggled with shame. It's just something I did. I would mess up, beat myself up about it (and I mean really beat myself up about it), and then I would move on only to repeat the cycle the next time I sinned. I didn't know it was a problem because it was my normal and I thought that's just who I was.

But looking back, I understand now that I really struggled with self-love and even accepting Christ’s love because of my shame. I felt ashamed that I couldn’t live up to the expectations I set for myself, ashamed when I would mistreat people or when they would mistreat me, and ashamed that I would never be good enough or significant.

But I’ve come to learn that our experiences with other humans whether that be our parents, our supervisors or our friends, cause us to believe that God responds in the same way. And I think that’s exactly what happened to me. My view of God was a reflection of how I treated myself.

When it comes to our sin, God is not sitting in heaven thinking, “I can’t wait till she/he comes to me so I can fuss her out.” He said that He did not appoint us to suffer His wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

We weren’t EVER called to live in shame. God may be displeased with our sin, but He loves us too much to condemn us. He only wants what’s best for us and He already decided a long time ago that He wanted a relationship with us. God sent His son so that we would be set free! Free from sin and free from our shame.

Peter 2:24 says, "He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness. By His wounds, we have been healed." When God looks at us, He doesn’t see sin. He sees Jesus because Christ took residence inside our hearts when we gave Him our lives through the gift of salvation. He willingly decided to take our place. He became flesh because He thought we were worth it. He didn’t want a world without us.

So when we sin, no matter how often, God wants us to come to Him. We can’t allow shame to prevent us from approaching the throne and asking God for forgiveness (Hebrews 4:16).

He nailed our shame to the cross and instead told us to root our identities in Him. So yes, we mess up. Yes, God is not pleased with our sin, but we can live in freedom knowing that Christ died so that we wouldn't have to. We don't have to tear ourselves down anymore. We can love ourselves fully - the good, the bad, and the ugly - and it's all because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

But the best part? NOTHING will be able to separate us from that kinda love (Romans 8:28-39). That’s His promises to us and He is not a God that He should lie (Numbers 23:19).

Loved reading this post? Let me know what you think by stopping by my page on Instagram, and tell me some ways you have overcome shame! I would love to get to know you and hear your thoughts.

Hanha is the writer behind Transparency Blog, and she is super passionate about encouraging women to find their identity and belonging in Christ! She graduated from the University of National Champions—Go Heels!—and she is currently pursuing plans to become a physician in the near future. A few fun facts? She’s addicted to Grey’s Anatomy, has a special place in her heart for tacos, and podcasts are her present obsession. In her spare time, she daydreams about places she can travel and loves connecting with friends on Instagram. Come say hi!

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