Do I feel worthy on the inside if my outside world is silent on praise?
Can I present myself freely to people without feeling the need to dial back or hide to be accepted?
Do I carry inherent value? If so, how much?
I’ve never stopped to consider shame, or its nibble effect. I usually don’t identify with feeling unworthy, or that there’s something inherently wrong with me. God gave me freedom from that when I first came to know Him. Since then, I’ve always considered shame to be a blaring trumpet, loud and obvious. What I didn’t consider, until a couple of weeks ago, is that shame can be sneaky and just as destructive in the whispers as it is from the “bigger” version I’ve seen and experienced before. A couple of weeks ago, when I was praying and preparing for a group we co-host at our house, I heard God whisper to my heart, “I’m going to break off shame tonight.” I smiled at God’s goodness and relentless pursuit of our freedom, but I honestly didn’t consider His words may be for me. So I let our co-host know what I felt God was saying, because he’s a counselor and an expert on describing shame’s effects. We agreed that he would share it with the group so God could do His thing.
I had heard him describe shame before, but that night, when we were all gathered together at my house, he started to describe shame, and it hit me like an arrow straight to the heart. It was as if he was talking about the inner workings of my own heart! What I had failed to noticed, is that shame had been hijacking pieces of my heart, and it was affecting everything. It had dampened and even choked out some sacred spaces in my inner world, and it had done so like a thief in the night. It was invading sacred spaces such as my heart, my inner world—longings, dreams, desires, emotions, love, freedom, my relationships, and even my trust in people and in God had been nibbled by shame! And I should know this by now, but it usually isn’t the big blaring and obvious things that hold us back and down, it’s those little foxes that nibble away at our blooms. (Song of Solomon 2:15) Let me describe to you a couple of scenarios our friend detailed, because I have a feeling shame might be hijacking some of your sacred spaces, too.
The kingdom is an inside out world. When we flourish on the inside, our outside world naturally flourishes. You don’t hear Jesus teaching on behaviors for that very reason, because it all comes from the heart. It’s just like a plant getting water and sunlight, it naturally blooms and becomes fragrant. You see, shame inverts that scenario. Shame says I need to find significance and meaning on the outside—from work, success, family, position, status, good works, religion, etc., to be okay and feel like I’m enough or carry value on the inside. So when my life came to a sudden halt last December when I injured my knee, I found out reeeaal quickly that I had been finding worth and meaning, even though it was just a little, from the outside—people, recognition, and my talents being put to use were feeding my internal value. In the absence of these outside things, I felt unproductive and meaningless. I remember being emotional after one day in particular, crying to Scott those very words! From that day on, God took me on a journey of settling down, becoming still, and really learning who Meghan is. It was the slowest season of my entire life! To someone who thrives on production and movement, I learned invaluable lessons on my inherent value. It’s one thing to say we believe these things, but quite another when it becomes a reality, and the rubber meets the road, so to speak! I so desperately wanted THRIVE in my God-given identity with zero outside validation. So, day by day, I learned I can be at home, amongst few people, and still feel worth every drop of Jesus’s blood. I can feel powerful and at peace ANY GIVEN DAY, rain or shine, productive or filled with obstacles. Gosh, it was one of those painful but worthwhile lessons, but I’ve never felt freer! I saw how even in teaching my gym classes, I’d allowed the praises of well-meaning people validate that I was “good/okay” on the inside. It’s in the absence of all the success, the busyness, the status, the achievements, that the true test comes: Do I still feel okay and worthwhile on the inside when the outside world is silent? I can honestly answer you today, one very full year later, YES! But, I have a feeling some of you may be where I was a year ago. If you feel like you need something on the outside to make you feel important, good, or “enough,” shame is hijacking your identity, friend. If you’re constantly searching for that next thing to be _____, shame has been nibbling away at your heart. And God wants you free.
This next one is the one that hit me with an arrow. Shame tells people they can’t bring their whole self into the relationship, because they believe they won’t be accepted. So they only bring forward what they think the other person will accept, or what I have heard Brennon Manning (an amazing author!) say is “the presentable me.” This produces shallow relationships that don’t go fully to the depths or widths of where they’re intended to go. We never go “there” and talk about things that are hard or painful. I am by nature a person who looks on the bright side, so I usually avoid talking about things that look bleak! Plus I don’t like complaining, so I always chalked up this kind of talk to complaining. Even though I know and completely believe in God’s redemptive power, I prefer avoiding any talk about things with which I struggle or feel insecure. Shame keeps this part of us hiding all the time, and to some extremes, we don’t really feel known by God or anyone. There is deep fear of vulnerability, and this person rarely has any real conversations, and therefore isn’t really known deeply by anyone. So as my friend is describing this part, I’m thinking, “Oh my gosh, God, you set me up! This is so me!!” I immediately saw shame’s nibble effect, and to some degree, I saw my tendency to dial back what I have to offer and who I am for fear of being “too much” or “an imposter.” Both are lies, I know!! But they were hijacking my identity! I smiled through my tears because God SET ME UP, for the sake of freedom! God had told me He wanted to break the weight of shame off of people that night, and I got to be the first recipient of freedom!
It’s time to come out of hiding friends. Shame is a BIG FAT LIAR, and it’s time to draw a line in the sand and stop allowing it to tell us who we’re not. It’s time to arise and let your light shine, for the glory of the Lord rises to shine upon you! (Isaiah 60:1 NLT) Some of us are filling our lives with so much busyness because we are searching for meaning and significance from production and movement. That’s shame. Some of us are hiding behind our guards and fortresses, for fear of looking less than magnificent before others. That’s shame. Some of us are staying quiet when we are needing to shout! Some of us are getting our inside world puffed up with a bunch of outside pollution. Some of us aren’t really known by anyone because we are afraid to admit where we are, so we smile instead of admit our struggles or our weaknesses. (Read 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 for a powerful truth on weakness!) Some of us believe we carry value, but it’s pennies on the dollar. All of those are lies! God is our source, He is our Giver of value, and He sends people with whom we can have deep connections by being known and championed and fought for. He’s made us to be dynamic and deep both with Him and with others. But it’s only when we allow ourselves to fully come to the light that God can redeem anything. Shame covers, freedom arises to the light. God is for us, and He’s never ashamed of us!! He knows every single thing about us, and loves us with such intensity He sent Jesus to die for us, so that we’d never ever ever struggle with the chokehold of shame. That’s wild! That’s fierce! He loved us before we even gave Him the time of day. So the “thing” that would separate us from this reality of love, the thing that snuffs out our ability to love and be loved, is shame. The good news is Jesus paid for shame on the cross, and with His life He shut the mouth of the shaming liar! This is such good news you guys! So I’d love to pray for you to receive freedom. Just like I did that night a few weeks ago, I’d like to release what God said He’d do for our group. He wants to break the chains of shame in the mighty and powerful name of Jesus.
Normally I type out a prayer, and frankly I’d prefer to do that, but I felt God prompt me to shoot a video. I pray it feels personal, and unlocks power, truth, and freedom within you. God is SO proud of you!! I pray that you can go back, and ask yourself the questions from the beginning, and have a response colored by freedom!!
P.S. The holiday book bundle is still available for the next few days–in case you’re looking for stocking stuffers or great gifts!