Shame Part 3/3 – From Hiding to Belonging and Honour

“But you shall be named the priests of the Lord,
They shall call you the servants of our God.
You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles,
And in their glory you shall boast.
Instead of your shame you shall have double honor,
And instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion.
Therefore in their land they shall possess double;
Everlasting joy shall be theirs.
“For I, the Lord, love justice…
And will make with them an everlasting covenant.”
Isaiah 61:6-8 

Acceptance is the beginning of healing. Soren Kierkegaard said, “Face the facts of being what you are, for that is what changes what you are.” Embrace you, as the Father does. Embracing who we are and where we are at in life is what will transform us. Remember, God loves you and me as we are, not as we should be. If shame causes us to avoid intimacy, then moving from shame to acceptance and belonging must involve the following steps:

1. Intimacy and Vulnerability. Be vulnerable with God, cultivate godly intimacy and vulnerability with trusted brothers and sisters. Just as shame causes us to hide, vulnerability lets us be seen. If shame is the fear that our longed-for intimacy will be lost, practicing vulnerability is moving in the opposite direction. 

Agape touch is the enemy of shame and the potting soil of true belonging. 


Be encouraged: our beauty is in being truly seen and known by God. Therefore what makes us vulnerable makes us beautiful. Vulnerability puts a stop to the armour of superficial relationship and the fig leaves of performance. Vulnerability is a form of confession and the Bible teaches that there is deep healing in confession, humility and living in the light. Vulnerability fuels connection and intimacy. Vulnerability isn’t comfortable, but it is necessary. God made Himself supremely vulnerable to us in Jesus; let’s follow His example.

2. Acceptance – Embrace yourself. Judgement of ourselves and others is the potting soil of shame, whilst acceptance is shame’s enemy. Thomas Merton said, “Who am I? I am one loved by Christ.” The cross of Calvary demonstrates that we are worthy of unconditional love. We are enough. Practice self-acceptance. Practice being imperfect, unfinished, and yet completely lovable. Understanding our worthiness in Christ diffuses the power of judgement, self-hatred, perfectionism and criticism of ourselves and others. Don’t apologise for being the person God made you to be. You are God’s very good idea.

3. Authenticity – Be real. Embrace “stark, raving honesty” (Alcoholics Anonymous). Living authentically, from the inside out, is the enemy of shame. No more pretending, covering up; no more masks. We must be willing to let go of who we think we should be, in order to be who we really are. Someone once said that beautiful is “be-you-to-the-full.”

4. Courage – Live courageously. The original definition of courage comes from “cour”, meaning heart. Let’s tell the story of who we are wholeheartedly.

5. Grace and Compassion – Have compassion, be gracious - to yourself and others. Love believes the best (1 Cor 13). Shame's hellish perfectionism is swallowed up in the torrential river of God's grace and unmerited favour. Jack Frost said, “You will treat others according to how you think God feels about you.” Loving ourselves and others well, hearing their stories and showing kindness, casts out fear and shame. It is very difficult to be critical (of ourselves or others) when we are being compassionate.

6. Intimacy with God – Seek Jesus, the tree of life. All shame, fear and control are swallowed up in the wonderful presence of perfect love. We must focus on Jesus and abide in His unconditional love. We are transformed by time in His presence, gazing at His face, being filled with His Spirit, and by having our mind renewed in His word (2 Corinthians 3:18, Romans 5:5, Romans 12:2).

7. Cultivate Honour in Community – Shame is deeply self-centred and drives us into hiding as a means of protection. Shame breeds loneliness, disconnection, narcissism and individualism. The solution is to throw ourselves into godly community and serve. We walk out our healing journey with others who will love and accept us as we are. 

The opposite of shame is honour. Bill Johnson said, “A culture of honour is where you treat another person as you would Jesus. It has its foundation in your value for God.” Building on that foundation, your value for yourself. A critical tongue flows from a heart of shame. Those who have lived with toxic shame find it hard to honour those around them. Because they are used to living with their own unworthiness, others are unworthy also. A critical spirit has thrived in their shame-based ecosystem for too long. 

We will always love our neighbour as we love ourselves. The beloved, love. Those who know they are honourable walk in honour. It’s impossible to measure up around shame-based people. People who know their true worth make people feel worthy. And you can tell how free of shame a person really is by perceiving how worthy you feel in his or her presence. 

To receive our healing we must get into community and move in the opposite spirit and cultivate a different culture - the culture of honour. Learn to honour others as you honour yourself. Call out the gold in others as you call out the gold in yourself. See people for who they are before who they are not. 

Danny Silk unpacks this further in his seminal book, "Culture of Honour" - "A culture of honor is created as a community of people learns to discern and receive people in their God-given identities. In a culture of honor, leaders lead with honor by courageously treating people according to the names God gives them and not according to the aliases they receive from people. They treat them as free sons and daughters, not slaves; as righteous, not sinners; as wealthy, not poor. Leaders also acknowledge their interdependence on the diverse anointings God has distributed among His leadership and their design for functioning as a team that creates a “funnel” from Heaven to earth. They lead in teaching and preaching a Gospel that accurately acknowledges God’s identity as good, as love, as shalom, and look for clear manifestations of these realities as signs that God’s presence is truly welcome in the culture. And in the safety and freedom that grow as His presence grows, leaders lead by developing ways to help people get along with one another in a free culture. They have tools for confrontation that are congruent with people’s God-given identities and are motivated by the passion to protect and grow the connections that God is building among us. Finally, leaders in a culture of honor naturally lead their people in extending the honor of the Kingdom to the wider community, creating ways for our cities to experience the life that is flowing among us. Life flows through honour."

Be seen. Be you, uncut. Be strong. Be loved. Be God-conscious, Christ-centred and free in His Spirit.  Belong. Receive double honour.

This article is an extract from 

God Hunger: Meditations from a life of longing












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