In the past several months, there have been several very costly mistakes made by the members of my household, including yours truly. In my case, it was a mistake that cost thousands of dollars and was the single largest mistake of my adult life. However, as time and perspective have added to the event, there is redemption. It’s been a bittersweet time in my family because there is a pain with the mistakes, but there have been incredible lessons that have come out of the situations if we choose to learn instead of defining ourselves by the mistake. Shame would like to define you by your mistake because shame would want to keep you powerless and move you toward hiding and numbing behaviors. In turn, this chains a prisoner to the mistake. However, that is not the attitude of any emotionally healthy parent nor of God. No good parent wants their child to identify only with the negative aspects of their being or with their mistakes. Alternatively, abusive parents may use shame and guilt as a manipulation tool to remain in control of the child’s behavior. Good parents know that the child who focuses on their mistakes or their weak areas will not move toward their potential and, in turn, will stay powerless and/or start operating in more fear. Parents who understand this paradigm will work hard to try and tell and show their child their value.
Have you ever met a person that does not accept compliments well? The moment we tell the individual something terrific about them or their action, they discount the praise by telling you why it is not true or why someone else is better. In this person, shame is the shield they choose to carry and the only evidence that will, unfortunately, penetrate that shield are things that focus on the negative aspects of self. Your efforts feel invalidated and powerless when you are the person who is trying to affirm and compliment because shame prevents the positive truth from passing to the depths of the person. As a parent, we can feel very helpless when our children embrace negative cycles instead of choosing positive. Our efforts can feel as if they are in vain and we desire is to see our children embracing positive and moving toward truth that is powerful. God feels the same way. He wishes to penetrate our shield of shame and see us move powerfully. However, he has given us free will and will not penetrate our shame unless we invite him to do so. God, like good parents, is more focused on how you think about yourself and how you process mistakes and failures than he is about the mistake or the failure. Of course, there are natural and logical consequences of every mistake that is made. If we did not receive natural or logical consequences to our mistakes or failures, we would not learn to be wise. If I tell my child not to touch a hot stove and they do so, they will burn themselves. This natural consequence helps become the bridge between inexperience and wisdom. However, repeatedly focusing on their failure to obey my directions and their mistake of touching the stove, will only create shame in the child and shame only produces more powerlessness. Unfortunately, if I believe myself to be shameful, I will behave out of a motivation of shame. God, like good parents, is more focused on you seeing yourself through his eyes of love and not through the shame lens of your mistakes. He, like good parents, wishes you to live to your fullest potential. Where are you operating in shame? Where do you focus on the mistakes of your past as your identity? God desires to release you from that heavy load of shame, but you are going to have to begin to let his truth and other people’s positive truth about you change the way you think. We find what we are looking for in life. What are you looking for today? Shame’s powerlessness or Freedom’s powerfulness?
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.