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This is Killing Me! The Agonizing Effects of Shame vs. the Love of God

Posted By Denise Miller Holmes on Monday

Savvy Article #0924

Shame is a killer. It kills the heart, it kills the mind, it kills relationships, and it kills joy.

Of course, there is such a thing as healthy shame—the type of shame that leads us to sorrow and repentance. But, shame too often becomes toxic.Toxic shame happens when we say we are sorry and we can’t forgive ourselves, or when others do shameful acts to us and we take on their shame as if it were ours.This shame is agonizing, which is why so many push it down and try to handle their feelings with isolation, depression, obsessions, angry outbursts, workaholism, alcoholism, other addictions, and many other destructive behaviors.

I once had a dear and godly counselor who had a profound effect on me when she shared some terrible things she’d done in the past. I was surprised at her ability to function without guilt as she moved through life. Knowing she had repented of these acts and that God had forgiven her, I asked her, “How did you forgive yourself?”

She said, “I finally believed that God loves me no matter what I do. Even if I choose to do evil, He still loves me. No matter what.”

That, my friend, is the antidote to your toxic shamebelieving utterly that God loves you, no matter what.

My friend Dana Davis recently wrote about the shame he has battled for years:

Journaling About Shame
By Dana Davis, Saturday, April 8, 2009

The shame in me is a ball of knots.

Each knot is a voice…
“you’re not good enough”
“you’re defective”
“you’re the problem”
“you blew it, again”
“you are at the bottom, the worst”
“you can’t, you won’t, you shouldn’t”

Some knots have turned so hard, they are like stone
— tugged and tightened over the years.
Some are knots upon knots — layered over time.
It seems so big and intimidating, towering at times
— always condescending:
“Who do you think you are?”

I try to hide it from you, with…
…the things I do
…the clothes I wear
…the car I drive
If I show enough pride, maybe you won’t see it…
but you do.

Despite all my efforts to hide it and to hide from it,
It oozes out in anger and controlling behavior,
And more knots add to the collection.

So one knot at a time, I pick it up and work it gently.
Tears loosen it, light softens it,
And I unravel the truth…
“I knit you together in your mother’s womb”
“I sing songs over you”
“I have chosen you”
“I have plans for you”
“Fear not, for I am with you”
“I will never leave you”

I start to see the value I have in His eyes, in His arms,
Value that He saw before the shame ever existed.

Glowing, hopeful, honest value based on His love for me,
because I’m His.

Love melts knots.

I leave you with Romans 8:38,39:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NIV)

About The Author

Denise Miller Holmes
Denise Miller Holmes enjoys teaching biblical topics, and especially researching and communicating what Christians believe about the world around them. She sometimes turns established viewpoints on end. A graduate of the University of Southern California School of Journalism, Denise also has a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology, and has been a Christian for over 35 years. She belongs to the writers’ groups Words for the Journey and American Christian Fiction Writers.


6 Responses to “This is Killing Me! The Agonizing Effects of Shame vs. the Love of God”

  1. Joanna says:

    Good post, Denise. The enemy can use shame to try and keep us from God. Shame causes us to hide – from others, from ourselves, and from God. It can keep us from achieving what God has planned for us. Thank you for reminding us that God loves us no matter what – before and after the shame and that nothing can separate us from His love.

  2. Jan Parrish says:

    So beautiful. So powerful.

  3. Tonya says:

    Great post! Thanks for sharing.

  4. needmorewordscs says:

    Thank you Denise. Dana Davis’ journaling was very heart wrenching, until the end when it became heart healing.

  5. How interesting. I’m reading a great book about shame by Brene Brown.

  6. Great post, Denise! What courage Dana had to write that poem and publish it.

    I always think of the Apostle Paul. He put believers in jail and had them killed. Yet Jesus met him on the road to Damascus and turned his life around.


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