Shame is a powerful player after you’ve experienced sexual assault. We feel it in many different ways. When we feel we aren’t enough around other people. When we get something wrong instead of perfect the first time. When we put ourselves down for not doing exactly what we “think” we should have done.
Shame is defined as: a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. We will not be perfect in this life. We will do things wrong and sometimes be foolish. We are sinners saved by grace, wanting to become more like Jesus. We are not perfect like Him or we wouldn’t need Him.
In thinking about shame today I realized I feel quite a bit of shame in regards to my relationship with God and what I do or don’t do. I was brought up in a legalistic, Southern Baptist church, where I was taught you should pray, read your Bible, and tithe to be who God wants you to be. The problem with this teaching is that it doesn’t bring you to the relationship with God that is the entire reason we were created.
Praying, reading the Bible and tithing are all good things that are a part of the Christian life, but each one itself is not the relationship. When thinking about a relationship I struggle to understand what that must be like to have a relationship with God. Relationships require constant communication and learning about each other. I haven’t really had that in this life to understand it.
Only one person on earth gets me, attunes to me, empathizes with me, and treats me with respect. That person is my counselor and it’s taken several years to be at that point. When I think that he understands where I’m coming from, how I feel, and doesn’t shame me, I realize that God who is all powerful and not bound by human standards of imperfection must get me that much more.
In talking today in my session we discussed the Samaritan women at the well where Jesus visited. If you don’t know the story, Jews (and Jesus was a Jewish man) did not associate with Samaritans yet Jesus is standing by the well and the Samaritan women comes up to draw water. Jesus asked her for a drink.
They have a brief discussion and she tells Him she wants the “living water” He says He can provide. He tells her, not in a condemning way, but nicely tells her to go call her husband and come back. When she says she has none He acknowledges this and says, I know you’ve had five husbands and the man you’re with at the moment isn’t one.
Think of the shame this woman feels standing with a Jewish man who knows about her history. Back then women were supposed to marry one man and have children, unless their husband died. That is how they were judged in society. Yet, Jesus goes on to share about salvation and that He is the Messiah. He is what she needs.
Jesus truly got the Samaritan women, who she was and what she needed. He offered Himself to her and I believe empathized with her difficult life.
Jesus gets us more than anyone else on this earth. He is all knowing. He understands more what we need than we ourselves do. When I let go of the legalistic tendencies of “must do” to be known by God I release the shame I have associated with Him that doesn’t belong there. It frees me to come into the true relationship with Him seeking out what He has for me.
He does the same for you. Each one of us is called to a relationship with God and it doesn’t involve any of the shame we are so familiar with as survivors. It involves a loving, kind, and compassionate God who wants us to know Him more so He can bring us true fulfillment in this life.
That is what I crave today, especially when I start to feel the shame. A relationship where I am understood and comforted. I hope you’ll pray with me today to come into the presence of God and all He has in store for each of us. He’s waiting today. Will you join Him with me?
I often have feelings of shame and I ask that you take them away. Help me realize that you don’t shame me if I don’t “do” the right things. You want a relationship with me, and relationships aren’t scripted of when to “do” this and that. Help me stay in constant communication with You so I know what You have for me in this life. So you can help me continue to seek healing and understand Your love. Thank you for all You’ve done for me.
In Jesus Name,
© 2020 Susan M . Clabaugh. All Rights Reserved.