shame: an unwanted soul companion we needn’t carry

Shame became my soul companion from childhood. It sat like a stone in my sad heart. I didn’t have words for it for years. It was like a bitter root on the tongue, making me numb, eating away at speech and causing me to hide away.

I sought refuge in many places: curling up small on chilly park benches, scrambling over precarious building sites, walking through woods, hiding in my bedroom and escaping into books.

Shame and fear get written on a child’s soul before they have the words to know what they are and how lifelong destructive they can be. I retreated into myself, chewed on my clothes, had an eating disorder and ate garden plants.

Shame is like a ghost that hovers over our days, in the background, yet it never quite disappears. And only God can give us the Holy Spirit in exchange for the shadows from our past.

An inner longing rises up to be comforted and unconditionally loved, to have a home and family and experiences different to this. To be accepted just as we are. To not be hurt. To feel free to spread our wings.

We ache with the weight of unshed tears. We can remain silent and dry-eyed for years at things that touch others, who are bewildered because we don’t join in, and confused when a tiny spark makes us overreact to things.

“He will wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain. All of that has gone forever.” – Revelation 21:4 TLB

Because we’ve experienced painful events that jump out at us at unexpected moments. We’ve had our fragile hearts broken and we don’t know how to fix them again. We swallow back the pain, repress, suppress and refuse to entertain the memories, even as they throb and pulse through our veins.

We want to be held. Safely held. We want more than anything to be loved, accepted and understood. To know we are worthy and we belong. But we look in all the wrong places and we accept bad people and embraces because we don’t value ourselves at all.

We have bought into the lie that we’re just somebody’s plaything and not worth anything. Self-recrimination adds to our shame, as we descend down darker passageways of life that prove to be nothing but dead endings.

There are surprising glints of grace, breakthroughs of beauty in the mess but we never quite hold onto or believe that the good times, relationships or feelings will last. But one day it changes….one day we wake up to ourselves and how much we are in need of a Saviour.

“Instead of shame and dishonor, you shall have a double portion of prosperity and everlasting joy.” – Isaiah 61:7 TLB

A light begins to penetrate within and we are irresistibly drawn to the only One who loves us completely and has a remedy for our shame, guilt and sin. God Himself sits beside us in the ashes of our brokenness. He doesn’t judge. He offers us His amazing grace, mercy, forgiveness and love.

Shame has met its match. We are in the process of being made whole again in Christ. Though it might take time to fully see and accept who we really are in Him and to work through our woundedness and pain. We are adopted into God’s family. We can stand strong because He gives us grace to begin again.

My friend, God is calling you now. He stands ready to rescue us from any pit we might have fallen into. He adores you. You are precious and beautiful in His eyes.

“His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by sending Jesus Christ to die for us.” Ephesians 1:3 TLB

Your past is just the first step to a new beginning. A fresh start. A new heart. A life of peace, acceptance, belonging and joy awaits you and me. But we have to see our need. We must come to a place where nothing and no-one else can fully satisfy or help us.

We slowly open up the door of our hearts, and once it’s prised ajar it’s always enough for God to fill and flood with His love. For us to begin to trust. To release and breathe freely. Maybe for the first time in living memory.

Never forget you are valuable and loved far more than you will ever know. If you would like reach out to God or reacquaint yourself with His goodness and grace, please listen to the prayer below – with apologies for my rather weak, tremulous voice!  🙂

——Joy, for the Beloved Prodigal Team—–

We’re linking here with #LMMLinkup and #graceandtruth

 

11 thoughts on “shame: an unwanted soul companion we needn’t carry

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  1. Thanks, Joy for sharing this story. I believe there are many grown-up “children” who can relate to these feelings, and who hopefully will find the freedom from the guilt and shame of whatever experiences they might have had. The YouTube song has a strong message to each one of us. Joy, your voice in your prayer was warm and comforting. God be with you in all your struggles with physical pain and exhaustion. When we are weak – then we are strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10

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    1. That is my hope and prayer, Lisa. It’s a freedom we all need to discover and live in. Thank you so much for your kind encouragement and sweet reminder of God’s strength in our weakness. It’s a topic dear to my heart and one I often write about. I’m glad the song came across powerfully and that my voice wasn’t too croaky to hear the words properly! Blessings and love to you, my friend. xo 💜

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  2. This is so beautiful, Joy. It’s very much a description of my Prodigal journey home. I carried shame so deep, unable to process the turmoil of emotions coursing through my body, mind and soul as a little girl. I spent a lot of my time hiding away in books.

    Trauma shaped so much of who I was. Until God knelt down in my ashes and picked me up and began to show me beauty there – His Presence that had never ever left me through all those years. And most importantly His tears for me. He saw me.

    Now, He is leading me ever deeper into healing and the most important part of that is uncovering the shame buried deep within me and replacing it with Himself- my only true freedom. It is a gradual pr0cess. And truly only one our God is wise and gentle enough to lead us through. I am so thankful for our God who doesn’t leave us swimming in that shame, but opens our eyes to His love, compassion and grace. I pray those who are hurting are led here to see the true heart of their God- who sees, knows and loves them. Right where they are at. To lift their downcast face to His.

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    1. I meant to say how wonderful it was to hear your voice, Joy. So special to have you pray that prayer over us aloud. And thank you for being so open in your sharing. I know just how hard it can be to boast in our weakness to His glory. I know it will bless others also.

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      1. Oh thank you, Anna! It wasn’t very loud but at least it was audible! God has been leading me down the vulnerable sharing route for years now but I still suffer a bit of angst each time I publish something like this. My continual hope and prayer is to be able to bless and encourage others if possible. xo 😊💗

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    2. Dear Anna, I had an inkling this would resonate with you, having read words you’ve shared about the same topic. Books are such great companions when we feel lonely and lost, aren’t they? And both of us have retained our love for them. I can definitely relate to trauma shaping who we are and how we react.

      The wondrous thing is that we can now say about God is that “He saw me” in the dust and ashes and He is in the process of restoring us little by little by His grace.

      Healing is a process and a multilayered one at that. It takes time, patience and perseverance to allow God to unearth the dross we hold on to and replace it with His beauty and love. You and I might be works in progress but we’re not where we used to be either. We’re becoming more of who God intended us to be when He created us. Amen to your prayer! xo 💜

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  3. Dear Joy,
    Thank you for sharing this part of your story. You offer so much hope and a reminder that God meets us where we are. “God Himself sits beside us in the ashes of our brokenness.” He wants us to come in our messiness because He has great love and is the only one who can heal us. Sometimes we hold on to the guilt and pain or it tries to hold on to us. But that is when we need to remind ourselves that God has forgiven all that is past – what we have done and what has been done to us. He is our Redeemer and Friend. The song you shared is perfect! Blessings love and hugs to you, dear Joy! Thank you so much for sharing the prayer in your own voice. May God grant you rest and strength. xo

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    1. Dear Gayl, thank you for reading this and seeing the hope threaded through it. I’m so glad you did! And I appreciate the lovely reminder of God’s forgiveness extending to those who may have wronged or hurt us. That’s a very salient point. It’s good to hear the song and prayer have spoken to you as well. Resting does need to be a top priority for me now. Bless you for recognising how draining it can be to open up and share openly. But it’s worth it if even one person is helped by it. Love and hugs! xo

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  4. Dear Joy,
    I am so thankful that you shared some more of your precious heart with us all here. You have such a beautiful way of expressing the compassionate love that Jesus showers over us. This especially touched me: “We slowly open up the door of our hearts, and once it’s prised ajar it’s always enough for God to fill and flood with His love.” He hovers so closely, just waiting for us to glance His way, and He rushes right in to care for us! Oh may we allow Him access there. And may our hearts be opened to love the dear ones around us who are still buried beneath the shame. And, it was so lovely to hear your own voice sharing your prayer. Blessings, Love & Hugs to you my friend!

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    1. Dear Bettie, I love your description of God hovering so closely and rushing straight in as soon as we glance His way! How vividly it reveals God’s ardent heart for us and His willingness to wait. I join in with your plea for our hearts to “be opened to love the dear ones around us who are still buried beneath the shame.” Amen! It truly does suffocate our souls, making us drown in discouragement and ache with the weight of it. Thank you for your sweet response to my prayer! I tried to improve on the sound quality today but my voice was even weaker than before and prone to coughing, so I had to leave it as it was… Blessings, love and hugs to you too, my friend! xo 😊💜

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