The Power to Overcome Shame
Pastor John King
I want you to imagine for a moment that sense of embarrassment where you feel you
want to hide. That sense of embarrassment where you wish that people weren’t looking at you.
Imagine that this was not something that only lasted a moment but the went on and on and on.
Imagine that it was something that you could not easily recover from. There were no words that
you could come up with to describe what you were feeling .
Imagine that it would not go away that it was not the result of some mishap or social
blunder that it involves the core of who you are and of your identity. IF YOU CAN IMAGINE THAT
THEN YOU ARE IN TOUCH WITH THIS THING WE CALL SHAME.
Unlike embarrassment Shame can be lethal it strikes at the very core of who we are.
Unlike embarrassment people do not tell funny little stories of this thing we call shame. Shame
can PARALYZE YOU CONFIDENCE. It can WITHER YOUR SPIRIT. It can DESTROY YOU
WILL. It can POISON YOUR RELATIONSHIPS. Experts in the field of shame that people who
experience shame can also have times of RAGING when their shame is exposed. ADDICTION
because of what they feel. Shame can also lie behind EATING DISORDERS. It can lead to
DEPRESSION. It can cause people to want to COMMIT SUICIDE. And its all around us.
There is the shame that a little guy feels when he is picked last all the time for baseball
games. There is the shame when you home alone every weekend when it feels that everyone
else is out on a date. And you wonder why no wants to be with me? And you feel ashamed.
There is the kind of shame you feel when you meet an old class mate and that person has gone
further than you and you wonder "What have I been doing with my life".
Go into any High school cafeteria and watch as some kid eats his lunch all by himself. No
one comes to sit with him. And in time he learns to go and hang out in the library or study hall or
parking lot. . .Anywhere so he doesn’t have to be shamed.
There is the shame that comes from a long pattern of deceit. You have lied about
someone some thing or been lied about. There is the shame that comes from anger that has
wounded somebody. There is the shame that comes from declaring bankruptcy or being fired, or
getting divorced, or leading a double life.
Shame can be a Feeling of heaviness that sits on a person and does not go away. Sits
on the person and makes them feel they DO NOT MEASURE UP TO WHAT THEY WERE
MEANT TO BE AND THEY FEEL THEY NEVER WILL. Shame is not about a little failing here or
a little flaw there
One woman put it like this "I feel my deformity is showing. I feel like I am a deformed
person. Not that I have just done things wrong, but that something is wrong with me ". That’s
Everyone in this room or listening to this tape or CD have tasted it. And some here today
ARE CRIPPLED BY IT RIGHT NOW. This morning I want to seek to answer just two questions
1. Where does Shame come from how does it happen that people get crippled by shame?
2. Where does the power to overcome come from. Where do shame filled people find hope?
1. Where does Shame come from?
Have you ever been to a fair or something and stood in front off distorting mirrors? You
know the kind that make you look different from what you really are? Some make you look three
feet wide and three feet high. How many have seen mirrors like that?
Now I want you to imagine that your parents removed the ordinary mirrors in your house
and replaced them with these distorted mirrors. Every mirror in the house is replaced by distorted
ones. So now month after month year after year all you see when you gaze into a mirror is you
distorted maybe three feet high and three feet wide.
And your picture of your self would be distorted and because that is all you saw you
would go through your life believing that is what you look like. You would go through your life
making decisions about your life based on your PERCEPTION of who you THINK YOU ARE.
Here is the truth about our lives; WE ARE AT THE MERCY OF THE MIRRORS OF OUR
LIFE TO GET A GOOD IDEA OF WHO WE REALLY ARE. This is true not only by our feelings
about how we look Physically but also BY WHO WE FEEL WE ARE EMOTIONALLY AND
SPIRITUALLY. WE HAVE MIRRORS IN OUR LIVES AND FROM THE TIME WE ARE VERY
SMALL THEY REFLECT TO US WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE ARE WORTH.
One writer said "The parents of a child serve as a kind of mirror for the child they give the
child a sense of their feelings and worth before the child figures this out and gets a sense of who
he or she is." And this happened for you. From the moment that you had self awareness from the
moment that you were aware that you existed you began to pick up signals that sought to answer
the question "What kind of person am I?" You were looking for certain clues. The way you were
spoken to, tone of voice, the way you were touched, facial expressions that would give you some
kind of understanding as to WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU WERE WORTH.
The people who you grew up with especially your parents whether they did a good job or
not whether they understood it or not THEY REFLECTED TO YOU WHO YOU WERE AND
WHAT YOU WERE WORTH. For some here today when you walked into a room growing up
YOU SAW FACES THAT LIT UP AND EYES THAT WERE FULL OF JOY. And that became a
part of who you are. And that’s the image you have of yourself.
Others of you walked into a room and YOU NEVER SAW A FACE LIGHT UP. And YOU
NEVER SAW EYES SPARKLE WHEN THEY LOOKED AT YOU. And that also BECAME A
PART OF YOUR IMAGE OF YOURSELF. YOU READ WHO YOU WERE AND WHAT YOU
FELT ABOUT YOURSELF THROUGH THE EYES OF YOUR MOTHER AND FATHER AND
THOSE CLOSE TO YOU. And that has led to your sense of IDENTITY AND WHAT YOU FEEL
ABOUT YOURSELF RIGHT UP TO NOW. And some of you are here today AND the voices of
your past, THE VOICES YOU HEAR FROM INSIDE YOU TELL YOU THINGS LIKE; YOU’RE
NOT SMART ENOUGH - YOU’RE NOT BRIGHT ENOUGH - YOU’RE NOT PRETTY ENOUGH -
YOU’RE NOT SUCCESSFUL ENOUGH - YOU’RE NOT POPULAR ENOUGH - YOU’RE NOT
SPECIAL ENOUGH TO BE LOVED. And it is a lie. In fact the Bible says "IT IS A LIE OF THE
Behind all these distorted mirrors one to the things the Bible says about the evil one is;
"THAT HE IS AN ACCUSER THAT SEEKS TO GET HUMAN BEINGS TO LIVE IN SHAME." All
of us here have had to deal with these distorted mirrors giving a false picture of ourselves to
some degree or another. And sadly all of us have been distorting mirrors for OTHER PEOPLE.
Why this is so is that SHAME IS SUCH A POWERFUL TECHNIQUE FOR
CONTROLLING BEHAVIOR. Its much more powerful that logic or encouragement or even the
threat of physical punishment.
We went to Disney World a few years back. We were overwhelmed by the rides and fun
things to do. We were having a great time until we came to one of the rides that everyone in the
family except one wanted to go on. So logic was used "no one has ever died on this ride". Then
encouragement was used "You can do it you will be glad you went on it". Then bribery "if you do
it we’ll give you a dollar." Do you know what turned out to be the most powerful persuader of all. .
"Look at this ride younger people that you are going on it". "If you don’t go on it you are
going to spoil the day for everyone else here". "If we can do why can’t you." And of course the
real message was if you cannot handle going on this ride your lacking in the courage department.
You can decide not to go on the ride but we will withdraw from you emotionally. We will be a little
bit ashamed of you. A little bit ashamed that you are in our family. No one said it exactly in those
words but that was what was really being said. IT GOT SO PRESSURED THAT I FINALLY SAID
"OK KIDS I’LL GO ON THE JOLLY TEA CUP RIDE JUST GET OFF MY BACK."
This kind of shame. . . the shame that we use to manipulate and control is highly
destructive. Some of you here today have been damaged by this kind of shame and you need
healing. Some of you grew up in families that the common language was the language of shame.
Some of you experienced it at the hand of Teachers or the hand of a boss. Some of you have
attended Churches where shame was the primary tool used to motivate people. In many
situations you have been controlled by people using shame.
By the threat of the withdrawal affection & love. One writer uses the image of A BRIDGE.
He said "when Children are born they need a bridge to important people in their lives, their
parents and others and that bridge is built on trust and words of encouragement affirmation looks
of love and so on.
Shame occurs when that bridge gets broken when affection is withdrawn and love
becomes conditional. When that happens the child is convinced its their fault and shame occurs.
And you can see it their heads go down they blush their ashamed. Some of you are here today
and you have been damaged by this stuff and here is what you need to do YOU NEED TO FIND
You need to bring what you have been ashamed of out into the open. SHAME ALWAYS
SEEKS TO HIDE. You need to find someone who you can trust and you need to bring what your
ashamed of out into the open so that it ceases to have power over you. STOP HIDING you need
to find some new, real mirrors to look into. Maybe you have to get into a small group of loving
people who you can learn to trust and who will help you heal.
That is why we feel that everyone at Riverside aught to belong to a small group. We can
help you find one. People here have found that joining a small group they have felt cared for and
prized and where they have felt the freedom TO STOP HIDING. Many need to find new mirrors
and stop hiding. It would be great if we could stop now and say that the only way people feel
shame is by the fact of looking at ourselves in DISTORTED MIRRORS but of course that is not
the only fact that causes shame. But the bad news is that sometimes we Feel shame not because
I look at myself in a FLAWED DISTORTED MIRROR but because
I LOOK AT MY SELF IN A PERFECT OR UNFLAWED MIRROR. The Bible says the
reason I sometimes feel like a flawed person and feel pain over that one of the reason’s is THAT
IN FACT "I AM A FLAWED PERSON". That there is envy inside me and greed inside me and
Selfishness inside me. I have hurt people I should not have hurt and when I become aware of that
I experience pain. I am ashamed.
I experience SHAME BECAUSE OF MY ACTIONS. Shame over the wrong that I have
done. Shame over the fact that I have not become who God intended me to be. THIS IS A GOOD
PART OF HUMAN LIFE. Its good that we have something within us that causes us at times to be
ashamed of and to beg forgiveness for what we have done or said. There are some people who
we look at and we ask the question "HAVE YOU NO SHAME?".
do not know what a hussy is but we say of some ladies sometimes "She’s a shameless
hussy". As I say I do not know what a hussy is but if you are into "hussying" apparently you
should be ashamed.
Herman Goring Was the designer of some of the worse evil in Nazi Germany. He was on
trial in Nuremberg and a list of his crimes were being read. As the list of evil actions were being
read for the world to know he leaned over to Albert Spear who was sitting next to him who was
also on trial and he said "Never Mind someday they will build monuments to us". That was his
response to the evil he had done "Never mind someday they will build us monuments"
You see shame would HAVE BEEN HIS LAST HOPE. SHAME if he could have
experienced it would have indicated that there was some spark of humanity was left in him. If he
could have at least have felt some pain over what his life had become maybe he could have
begged forgiveness. BUT THE TRUTH ABOUT HIM WAS THAT EVIL HAD TAKEN HIM OVER
SO COMPLETELY THAT HE HAD BECOME INCAPABLE OF REMORSE OR SHAME. That was
tragic. This leads to the question
2 Where does the power to overcome Shame come from?
Where do shame filled people find hope? One of the ways to OVERCOME SHAME IS
TO SEE WHEN SHAME IS JUST JUNK PUT INTO MY LIFE FROM THE PAST. By others and
circumstances. >From distorted mirrors. But also TO SEE THAT SHAME ALSO COMES FROM
THE FACT THAT I HAVE DONE BAD THINGS AND HAVE HURT MY SELF AND OTHERS IN
THE PROCESS. I will begin the path of recovery and overcoming when I admit my mistakes, my
sin, and all that has hurt me and others.
The Bible is the book of NEW BEGINNINGS. Whether you have been or are trapped by
your past. Lived on the lies fed into you by others and by the father of lies Satan. Or whether you
have lived a lie.
You have hurt yourselves and others by your lack of shame at what you have said and
done. Whether your shame is caused by others or by your self YOU DO NOT HAVE TO REMAIN
IN SHAME. Your first step in OVERCOMING SHAME IS TO ACCEPT. “I DO NOT HAVE TO
STAY AT THIS PLACE CALLED SHAME I CAN MOVE ON AND HAVE A BRAND NEW START."
In the wonderful romantic film Sabrina, Harrison Ford plays a second generation CEO
who is a total workaholic in a company that he had inherited from his father. He meets the
daughter of his families chauffeur she intrigues him and gradually demonstrates to him that there
is far more to life than the company and marketplace. He fights not to fall in love with her but does
and the story ends with Him following her to Paris drained and ready for "More to Life" he says
brokenly "I’ve been following in footsteps all my life. Help me Sabrina fair. You’re the only one
who can save me".
And that’s where you are at this morning to isn’t it friend. You have followed in the
footsteps others have laid out for you. You have listened to so many voices that you have
become what they said you should be. You have been trapped by other peoples lies about you.
You have become disillusioned with Life and what life has made you into. You have become
addicted to your inner world of shame. You NEED TO COME TO JESUS AND SAY TO HIM. "I
HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING VOICES AND FOLLOWING IN FOOTSTEPS ALL MY LIFE HELP
ME JESUS. YOU’RE THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN SAVE ME.
Jesus said this in John 14:6: "I am the way and the truth and the life. NIV
You have lost your way in a world of SHAME and Jesus say’s "Hey follow me I am the
way out of Shame." He says I am the truth. And truthfully He know you and knows what your life
has become because of shame. But He also KNOWS THE TRUTH OF WHAT YOU CAN
BECOME. HE KNOWS THE TRUTH ABOUT WHAT YOU WERE FIRST CREATED TO BE.
And Listen to this verse: 2 Cor 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old
has gone, the new has come!” NIV
So coming to Christ and surrendering YOUR SHAME to Him brings the change the new
beginning you crave and long for deep down inside.
The old joke asks the question "How many Church members does it take to change a
light bulb? The answer Change?. . . Who said anything about change.
And how many do you hear saying "Well that’s just me take me just like I am".
tatements like that CURSE YOU INTO A LIFE TIME OF NO CHANGE. No I come back
to the fact that you need to come to the place of saying "I DO NOT HAVE TO STAY AT THIS
PLACE CALLED SHAME. I CAN MOVE ON AND HAVE A BRAND NEW START." Its time to look
into the right MIRROR. Its time for you to let Christ erase the tapes from the past.
Listen to this scripture; James 1:23-25: “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it
says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away
and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law
that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it_he will
be blessed in what he does.” NIV
Let me tell you what the MIRROR OF GOD’S WORD SAYS ABOUT YOU. IT SAYS YOU
ARE PRECIOUS. IT SAYS YOU HAVE BEEN RUINED BY YOUR PAST. IT SAYS JESUS HAS
PAID THE PRICE TO CHANGE YOU FOREVER. IT SAYS THAT THE ONLY WAY YOU WILL
KNOW FREEDOM FROM YOUR PAST LIFE OF SHAME IS TO AGREE WITH GODS
ESTIMATION OF YOU. IT SAYS THAT YOU ARE TO BY HIS POWER CHANGE YOUR
THINKING ABOUT YOURSELF. IT SAYS THAT YOU ARE TO BEGIN TO LIVE IN THE
FREEDOM SUCH A CHANGE OF THINKING CAN BRING TO YOU. IT SAYS THAT WITHOUT
SUCH A COMMITMENT TO RECEIVE BELIEVE AND LIVE GODS WORD YOU WILL NOT
CHANGE. AND CHANGE MUST HAPPEN FOR YOU TO BE FREE FROM SHAME.
Here is the TRUTH ABOUT CHRIST HE ACCEPTS YOU AS YOU ARE . . . BUT DOES
NOT WANT YOU STAYING AS YOU ARE. That is a truth that many Christians have forgotten
and are locked into A NO CHANGE MENTALITY. . .See all they are is RELIGIOUS. But for you to
be free from Shame YOU NEED TO MAKE A RADICAL COMMITMENT TO CHRIST THAT
SAYS "I WANT YOU TO CHANGE ME."
To say to Him "I AM READY TO LIVE FREE OF SHAME AS ONE OF YOUR LOVING
FOLLOWERS". HE IS THE ONLY ONE FRIENDS THAT’S WORTH THE UNSETTLING
DISCOMFORT OF TAMPERING WITH THE KEY COMPONENTS OF OUR LIVES. Only Jesus
knows how to lead us and guide us to lasting change in our lives.
Recently I was advised to read a business book called DEEP CHANGE. As I started to
read it I was confronted by a statement that will effect the rest of my life. It was the statement
DEEP CHANGE OR SLOW DEATH.
I have that statement in front of me on my desk I read it everyday and as uncomfortable
as it feels I am committed to the concept OF DEEP CHANGE. . . the alternative SLOW DEATH is
unthinkable for me.
Many here have been locked into SHAME FOR SUCH A LONG TIME. The essence of
this talk is DEEP CHANGE OR SLOW DEATH. Its my challenge to INSPIRE YOU TO COMMIT
TO DEEP CHANGE. TO INSPIRE YOU TO ALLOW CHRIST TO GET TO THE DEPTH OF WHO
YOU ARE AND CHANGE YOU INTO WHAT HE ALWAYS HAS INTENDED YOU TO BE.
Listen friends EACH OF US HAS THE POTENTIAL WITH CHRIST’S HELP TO
CHANGE THE WORLD BUT BECAUSE THE PRICE OF CHANGE IS SO HIGH MOST SELDOM
TAKE ON THE CHALLENGE.
So this morning who is ready to say I HAVE LIVED IN SHAME TOO LONG. . .ITS TIME
I am ready to surrender to Christ everything that I have become up to now. I am ready to believe
what He says about me. I am ready to smash my distorted mirrors of the past. I am ready to look
into the true Mirror of Gods word. I am ready to live the rest of my life WITH CHRIST AT THE