Unmasking the Power of Shame



Quick. Name the 3 most shame filled moments of your life. The moments when you wanted to crawl under the table and hide. When your face turned red and your heart felt a rush of intense pain that flooded your entire body. Moments when you couldn’t look into the eyes of those around you.  The “I’m so stupid” moments. The “I’m a failure” moments. The moments of “I’m not enough”, “I’m too much”, “I’m too different”, “I’m completely powerless” or a million other variations of shame.

I bet you didn’t have trouble thinking of three, did you? In fact, your brain is still probably loading pages of information about your life.

My latest inner healing pursuit, and one I believe to be initiated by the Holy Spirit, is one of naming and dismantling shame in my life. I am “going after shame” because I know it has tentacles wrapped around my heart that keep me from becoming all I am destined to be.

My mind instantly goes back a couple of months to a scene where a couple of people were talking to me after church one Wednesday night. They were encouraging me to share a message with our congregation. Since my husband and I co-pastor our church, I can share whenever I have something on my heart but I don’t. Not very often. I always think, “Eddie is a better speaker than I am,” “The congregation will be disappointed if they show up for church and find out I’m speaking today,” or some other variation of “I’m not enough.”

Back to the moment. As these dear folks encouraged me to share, the man said, “The people need to hear from you. They need what you have to offer.” Inside my mind were thoughts of “I don’t think so.” And then he went for the juggler (in love), “You need to began to see yourself as a leader.” The words went straight to my heart and I knew he was right. I was a leader and have been for 30 years in the sense of position and certainly in some areas of church life, but at my heart, my core, I struggled to think of myself as “enough”.

Now just for clarification, I didn’t feel ashamed in the context of this conversation because I knew the man and he had earned the right to speak into my life. I did, however, realize that a sense of not being enough was hindering me.

I was already scheduled to speak in a couple of weeks and I did. I shared a message entitled, “You Can Overcome” because it’s a truth I carry and if I can overcome, you can overcome. And people were touched and encouraged, and another tentacle of shame was ripped off my heart.

I shared a couple of “real” moments from my life, moments when I was not Superwoman. Invariably when I share about my “real” life, a handful of folks will come up to me later and say something like, “I thought you were perfect; you had it all together; you never struggled.” They talk of how they were encouraged because they struggled, too.  And I’m always stunned and wonder how the heck they could think I never struggled. After all, I’ve told my story but I find it necessary to repeatedly stay connected with people at the heart level or they forget that I am not just one of their pastors and all the images that come with that, but that I am a person who pastors. Ah, the persona of leadership.

Brene’ Brown, a researcher on shame and vulnerability, defines shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.

This feeling, this experience of believing, keeps us from walking in the fullness of who we are in Christ. Christ was put to an open shame as he hung naked on the Cross, sentenced, condemned, and punished as a criminal. He took our shame. He took your shame. He took my shame into his own body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24, Isaiah 53:5, 2 Cor. 5:21) so that we could walk free of the power of sin and shame.  So that we could understand that we are enough because He makes us enough. He came, lived, died, and rose again so that we could be restored to the glory that God intended for us to live in.

Christ endured the shame so that we could go “back to the Garden” where man and woman walked side by side in dominion and power and love and glory and freely communed with each other and with God. He paved the way for us to be restored to our former glory.

Step one of dismantling the power of shame in your life is naming it.

Can you begin to name the ways that shame is hindering you from feeling you are enough? The ways you experience yourself as unworthy?

Will you ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to experientially believe that “you are complete in Him” (Col. 2:10)? That you are enough because He is enough?


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  1. Wow! Beautiful! I needed to read that this morning! It is so very true! Thank you so much for sharing your heart! This is a healing pursuit for me as well!;-)

  2. Mikki says:

    Thanks, Rebekah! What I’ve found to be true is that we all deal with shame. I’m so glad we are worthy because of Him!

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