Shame is an ugly place of disgrace and dishonor that causes us to live without the knowledge of our value and worth. It comes in various forms. The shame that lingers from your past is like the decaying remnants of death and is accompanied by a stench of fear. It reminds you of who you used to be and rots away any hope that you’ll ever get to live fully in your purpose. Maybe the shame comes from lies and rumors that have been spoken about you and believed by the multitude. The way others look at you when you walk into a room makes you suspicious that everyone “knows” and is talking about you, even when they are not.
Shame is mean like that. It could be sexual shame as you once again look at pornography “just one last time” and the blanket of shame covers you as you settle under the weight of it again. It could be shame from the abortion you’ve had, and you are riddled with fear to tell anyone because you believe you deserve hell for what you’ve done. You don’t. There is a love that desires to connect with you in the darkest crevices of your life. It’s a love that can heal you and set you free.
Shame gradually destroys your connection to God and in turn your connection to others. Shame is one of the biggest hindrances to true and lasting intimacy—intimacy between you and God and intimacy with others. We were created to be in connection and in loving community. It has never been good for us to be alone.
Some of you may be thinking, Well that’s fine because I don’t really want to be close to anyone anyway. I don’t really need people because they’ve always let me down, and I’ve been fine on my own. You may feel that if you do let people in, they may see the real you and not like what they see—because you don’t like what you see.
An unfortunate familiarity with shame came into my life at the same time anger and fear did. The damage left behind were permitted to remain, leaving a crack in the door of my life for shame to seep in.
Starving for affection, I experimented sexually because it provided a hit of counterfeit love and intimacy. Yet every time, I felt absolute shame for my actions and kept them hidden. Somehow, I knew it was wrong. At 15, I gave the gift of my virginity away, and then repeatedly had sex until I gave my life to Jesus at 19. The sex made me feel loved, yet a vortex remained, sucking up any hope of lifelong commitment or promise of unending covenant love. Sex had become a counterfeit, void of intimacy and commitment, that bred a deep fear of abandonment and heavy shame.
Just as sexual experimentation gave way to sex, sex gave way to pornography, and pornography opened up another door for more shame to wrap around me. I began dabbling in drugs, though nothing heavy, which provided another hit of counterfeit elation but, you guessed it, piled more shame on top of me. To make matters worse, I endured the trauma of walking through my pain publicly, while opinions and gossip ran wild. Such talk is the mud that the devil washes his hands in and smears all over us, reminding us with a vindictive, repetitive whisper that we’re damaged, rejected, and unworthy, just like everyone is saying.
Shame taught me to isolate myself from others, even my husband. It wasn’t conscious at first, but because I believed so many lies, I assumed that I would never have freedom in my life. I began to believe I was a reject who needed to spare the world of my presence. As each day, week, month and year passed that I didn’t deal with the root of my shame, the enemy continued to accuse and pile it on—for as long as I would let him derail my destiny.
It wasn’t long after we planted Liberty Church in New York that I felt a need to run away from the city, which in hindsight I now connect to the heavy cloak of shame that was spiritually draped around my shoulders. I had given it permission to remain there by leaning into every lie whispered in my ear, receiving it like some sort of penance I felt I deserved.
The good news is that Jesus came to restore the image of God into mankind and redeem our created value! From a place of relationship, we know who we are and we walk in trust, naked and unashamed of who we are. God’s desire has always been for us to choose life in Him while reproducing His image, to multiply His love on the earth. Jesus made a way for us to have life, intimacy and relationship forever with the Father, who created our identity in Him.
There is healing and freedom for you. Shame is not yours to carry or walk in because it was removed when you were reconciled to God through Jesus Christ: “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! Even if it feels like the journey has been long, just keep going.
This piece has been excerpted from Andi Andrew’s book, She Is Free. Used with permission.