A young college students attends a top-ranked university. He maintains a sold A- GPA and is well-liked by teachers and students. But this young man has almost no identity of his own. His choice of going into medicine to be a doctor were only to please his parents. Though he has dreamed of being a art teacher his whole life. He tries to please everyone he meets, to become whatever they want him to be. Though he has done well and has a good reputation on campus, he has a pervasive feeling of being out of place, worthless and incompetent and that one day his weaknesses will be exposed.
Can you relate to the young student mentioned above? His plight is the internal experience of many. It is called shame. What comes with the high values of achievement our families, we may often struggle with perfectionism and, therefore, shameful feelings of inadequacies. Also if there is a high value of restraint in regards to expressing negative emotions and thoughts, often times, there is a high shame feeling- a fear of exposure.
The experience of shame can be a very binding and oppressive experience that is far from the abundant life promised to the believer. Fundamentally, shame is the emotional reaction toward one’s thoughts and beliefs about self. I referred to Potter-Effron in Resisting Grace. He mentions three types of shame. The first is the shame of doing. This is the emotional reaction in response to the belief in one’s ineptness. “I can’t do anything right.” The second is the shame of belonging. This is the reaction in response to the belief in one’s out-of-placeness. “I just can’t fit in.” Lastly is the shame of being. This is the reaction in response to the belief in one’s defectiveness. “I am worthless.”

Isaiah 56:3-8 Freedom from shame
In the text of Isaiah 56:3-8, we meet two types of people who struggle with shame in Israel1s society, the foreigner and the eunuch:
Let no foreigner who is bound to the Lord say,
“The Lord will surely exclude me from his people.”
And let no eunuch complain,
“I am only a dry tree.”
For this is what the Lord says:
“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
who choose what pleases me
and hold fast to my covenant—
to them I will give within my temple and its walls
a memorial and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that will endure forever.
And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord
to minister to him,
to love the name of the Lord,
and to be his servants,
all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it
and who hold fast to my covenant—
these I will bring to my holy mountain
and give them joy in my house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house will be called
a house of prayer for all nations.”
The Sovereign Lord declares—
he who gathers the exiles of Israel:
“I will gather still others to them
besides those already gathered.”
The foreigner experienced the shame of belonging, feeling out-of-place, alienated, alone, excluded. The eunuch experienced the shame of doing, feeling inadequate and incapable. Both struggled with feelings of worthlessness and defectiveness, the shame of being. Yet there is a wonderful promise in this passage for those people of shame who would seek to love the Lord. Look over verses 4-7. They are promises of worth, identity, belonging and joy that come in being connected with the Lord.
If you are struggling with some of these shame feelings, there is hope for you. Here are a few suggestions. First, come out of hiding. Shame loves darkness, but healing comes when we share our shame. Second, connect with the fellowship of grace. This means relating with people who are not shame-givers but grace-givers — accepting, affirming and believing. Meet with the Lord, who is the ultimate grace-giver. Third, hold on to the promise of redemption from shame. It is the promise that changes our worthlessness to worth, our out-of-placeness to belonging, our inabilities to sufficiency in Christ.

“Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” Psalm 34:5
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