Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Living Forward with Confidence and Grace

Photo by Lisa Shafer Bergman
Isaiah 54 is the Lord's Sonnet to Israel, but as with most Old Testament writings, there are applications for God's modern Lady, the Church, and personal applications for individual believers.





Overcoming Fear, Shame, and Humiliation

4“Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame.
Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.
You will forget the shame of your youth
and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.

Do not be Afraid

I don’t know how many times the Holy Spirit spoke these words to my heart and I responded with bewilderment. I’m not afraid. I don’t feel afraid. Why do you keep telling me not to be afraid? Well, of course, He knows what we don’t admit to ourselves or to Him. Fear can show itself in many ways, and trust me, if it’s there, it will come out. Just look at the rest of the sentence. Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame.
Shame is an interesting word. Just using a regular thesaurus, we can come up with several synonyms. Do not be afraid, you will not be embarrassed, discredited, humiliated, disgraced, dishonored, mortified, degraded, or defamed. Interestingly, the antonym for shame is honor. These all come from how we are viewed by other people as well as how we view ourselves, or how we think others view us.
Do you ever find yourself adjusting your behavior, even your opinions, when in the company of someone you think might not approve? Now, sure, there is something to be said for responding to social cues. If you have been talking nonstop for twenty minutes and people start to look away, check their watches, or yawn, it’s safe to say you should probably stop talking.
But what if you never even start talking for fear you will say the wrong thing and embarrass yourself? What if you never apply for that job you want, start that business, write that book, or go talk to that person you want to meet, because you are afraid of being humiliated? What if you never share your faith because you are afraid of rejection? I have missed lots of opportunities in life because, yes, I was afraid. So how do we overcome this fear of shame, disgrace, and humiliation?

You will forget the shame of your youth, and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.

Ah. Shame comes from our youth first and then from those devastating blows in adulthood that cause us to feel barren. There are so many ways in which a child can grow up with shame. Child abuse. Neglect. Emotional abuse. Verbal abuse. Sexual abuse. Alcoholic parents. Being negatively compared to a sibling. Parent’s divorce. Multiple moves. Childhood illness or disability. Bullying. Anything that made you feel different from the rest of the kids.
Shame during childhood makes us more susceptible to shame and rejection as adults. We grow up with a poor self-image and low expectations for ourselves and these become self-fulfilling prophecies for our adult lives. We choose partners who don’t honor or respect us. We sabotage good relationships because deep down we don’t believe we deserve them. Perhaps we choose jobs that are a not a good fit for us. We can become ill or accident prone. Divorce.
There are so many ways we can experience shame in our youth and reproach as adults. God promises to deliver us from these so we no longer react with fear and avoidance. Next time you feel defensive, hurt, or humiliated, see if you can trace it back to an earlier time in life where old hurts are still festering. Take some time to bring that hurt to God, forgive, release, and let it go. God promises to relieve you of that burden so that you no longer carry painful memories.


Questions for personal reflection


What are some childhood memories that brought shame or the fear of shame into my life?
What are some adult experiences that left me feeling barren, broken, or humiliated?
How did the shame of my youth contribute to or compound the painful experiences in my adult life?



Dear Lord,
Your word says that I will forget the shame of my youth and remember no more the reproach of my widowhood. Please help me to acknowledge and release the pain, the shame, and the blame connected with painful childhood memories. I understand that this may take some time, and I submit to your leading as you guide me through this healing process.
Help me to heal from the wounds I have received in adulthood. From now on Lord, show me when I act in fear, when I react to current situations based on old hurts, and when I change or hide who I truly am for fear of rejection. Help me to honestly present myself as the person you created me to be.




Sit in a comfortable place with no distractions. Shift your body so it is well supported. Gently close your eyes and focus on your breath, breathing in slowly and deeply and allowing your muscles to relax as you exhale slowly and fully. Take a few more deep breaths as you become more relaxed and focused.
Imagine all the hurts in your life gathering into one solid mass in the center of your body. See yourself releasing all those old wounds and nailing them to the Cross. An now, imagine a spray bottle filled with a healing solution made up of all your body’s own chemicals God created in your body for healing. Take the spray bottle and spray yourself from head to toe, inside and out, filling every cell with all the chemicals needed for physical and emotional health and balance. Pay special attention to the place where the mass was.
See yourself refreshed, revived, renewed. When you’re done, it’s time to release the person or persons who hurt you. Jesus is next to you for safety, and your mind and body are strong and steady.
Turn to the person, and tell the person, I release you from any obligation to repay me for the wrongs done to me. I am no longer hurt by what you did. Go in peace. Watch as the person leaves, disappearing into the wilderness.
Notice the glow of the Holy Spirit warming, healing, and restoring all the places that were hurt. Realize that He has been with you all along, to bring you to this place of peace. Thank Him for being with you, giving you strength and peace for this difficult journey.
Jesus smiles and congratulates you and then says, “I have something for you.” He gives you a gift. What is it? This gift will be a reminder that you are now healed and whole. When you remember the situation that hurt you, think of this gift as a reminder that the pain, fear, and trauma has been removed from the memory, and you are healed.


Action Steps 


Take some time to write down the names of persons you need to release and any painful memories you need to have healed. Spend some time in prayer and meditation, releasing the pain, shame, and blame; and forgiving anyone who has hurt you.
Write down the ways, if any, that you have acted in fear because of your former shame. Think about how you can respond differently in future situations.
4“Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame.
Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.
You will forget the shame of your youth
and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.
Remember, God is on your side. He will not allow you to remain in a state of shame, disgrace, and humiliation. He will deliver you. Your life will no longer be characterized by what has happened to you, but by who you are in Christ. You are redeemed, a highly prized and valuable emblem of God’s infinite grace, and you are deeply loved.
Photo by Lisa Shafer Bergman

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