Freedom From Past Shame

I was raised in a very strict Christian denomination.
Everything about being a Christian revolved around the way that you looked and the image that you presented of yourself. Rarely were the issues of the heart addressed, such as pride, anger, un-forgiveness, and self-righteousness. Especially self-righteousness.
No one addressed the issue of self-righteousness because it was the silent poison that flowed through everyone's veins.

Wear these clothes, but don't wear those. Go this place, but don't go there. Look like this, talk like that. Condemn those who believe and look differently than you and obey those who are "closer" to God than you are. Do all of this and maybe, just maybe, God will grant you salvation for today and entrance into Heaven upon your death.
When you failed to live up to the expected standard, which happened often because everyone is human, you were ridden with guilt for letting down both God and people. Because of this ideology, my life was ridden with shame as far back as I can remember. If I felt that I had let someone, anyone, down I would spend days sick to my stomach and constantly on the brink of tears.

As you can imagine, this teaching created a vast distance in my relationship with God and warped my idea of Who He is. Instead of the Loving, gracious Father who picks me up when I fall that I now know Him to be I imagined Him as a big scary God sitting in Heaven just waiting for me to mess up so that He could punish and disown me.

I didn’t turn to Him like I should because I believed my problems and fears were too small to bother Him with, and besides, I had been taught that I could handle it myself. Self-righteousness.

I truly felt like I could somehow live such a “holy” lifestyle, looking and being so perfect while doing such perfect things, that I could earn salvation and deserve Jesus giving His life for me. Self-righteousness.

After truly encountering Jesus and His truth I realized the sin and fallacy of my life up to that point. I saw the foolishness of believing that I could ever deserve the life of Jesus. And I encountered shame like I can’t even describe. How could Jesus ever forgive my believing that I deserve His unending forgiveness? How could He forget that I ever thought I could deserve His suffering and death?

Obviously, our life experiences aren’t exactly the same, but the same truths apply to freedom from any strongholds and shame that we face throughout our lives: Jesus Loves us as we are and He is the key to our freedom.

The verse that has become my saving grace and life verse over the last few years of my road to freedom has been Galatians 5:1, “Christ has liberated us to be free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery (Holman Christian Study Bible).”

Jesus spoke this truth into my heart in the throes of setting me free from the shame of my past and He has brought it back into my mind over and over again when the shame has started shouting again.

I hope that you can find peace and freedom from these words as well.

There is something so freeing in knowing that Christ has set you free. Not that He is in the process of setting you free or that He will someday set you free, no, He has set you free.

He set you free when He chose to leave Heaven and become a man.

He set you free when He chose to be falsely accused and beaten by those He Loved so dearly.

He set you free when he chose the cross, bearing your sins (1 Pet. 2:24), despising the shame (Heb. 12:2) but enduring it all for the sake of your future.

It might not be easy to believe right away, but pray it and proclaim it until you have no doubt, “Christ has liberated me to be free; I am free.”

Once you have embraced this truth, stand firm.

Stand firm in the truth that you are free. Stand firm in the truth that Christ is the One Who has freed you all because He Loves You indescribably. Stand firm when others, including the enemy, bring up the past. Stand firm when nightmares and memories haunt your heart. When you’re overwhelmed by guilt and regret for dumb decisions and misguided mistakes, stand firm in the freedom that only Christ offers.

And do not submit.

Whatever your “yoke of slavery” is, Christ has set you free from your chains and He has also given you the freedom to choose. You get to decide to accept freedom and live in it or fall back into the same patterns of your past.

You get to choose whether you will accept the lies that the enemy shouts that say, “You will never really be free.” You get to choose whether you will let comments from “friends” who won’t forget your past wound your heart and make you question your worth. And you get to decide if you will believe God when he tells you that He Loves you, He forgives you, He frees you, and He longs to know you.

Don’t try to stand on your own. You don’t have to be your own rescuer. Don’t be afraid to share your weaknesses with God. He longs to meet you in the darkest places because that is where His light shines brightest.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Corinthians 12:9, English Standard Version).”

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville Tennessee. All rights reserved.

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

WomanhoodBethany Boyton