And when you’ve done something wrong, that’s a good thing. Like all pain, it’s meant to tell you something’s amiss and needs attention.
When a splinter enters a person’s hand, pain sensors alert the person that there’s a problem by making the hand hurt. When the splinter’s removed, the wound is cleaned, and the cells regenerate, the hand no longer hurts.
Likewise, when shame is dealt with effectively, it goes away. But unlike treating a splinter, most people don’t know how to deal with shame. And so it lingers on, like a silent poison.
Here are two common approaches that promise freedom from shame but don’t deliver:
- Self-flagellation – Attempting to resolve shame by paying it off; trying to do enough good to even out the scales for whatever wrong you’ve done; or treating yourself badly enough that you suffer just as much or more than those you’ve wronged.This doesn’t work; it only reinforces the initial reason for the shame.
- Lowering the bar – Attempting to declaw shame by minimizing your sin, reminding yourself (and others) you had a really good reason for doing what you did, comparing what you did to others’ “worse” behavior, or pointing to the fact that “everyone” is doing it (how can we all be wrong, right?)This doesn’t work either because it sets you up to repeat the same shame-inducing behavior again . . . After all, it wasn’t that bad.
There’s another, better way to deal with shame.
Bring yourself—with all the sin and shame you carry—to Christ on the cross.
This might sound like a religious cliché to you. But listen, as much as Jesus’ death on a cross was a true event in history, it is also a reality available to you today. Christ, who now lives outside of time, can take every drop of the poison of your present sin and shame into His body on the cross, drinking down its venom so you can be healed.
You might begin this way: Picture yourself at the foot of his cross holding the wrong you’ve done; tell him what you did, then hold it up to him and ask him, “Please, Jesus, will you take this for me?”
He is willing.
Question: Why do you think we default to self-flagellation or lowering the bar rather bringing our sin and shame to Christ on the cross?
At the cross,