Rooted Mama Podcast
Episode 12: Overcoming Shame
Episode #12: Overcoming Shame
Shame can shape our perceptions in a profound way. Shelby experienced shame that caused her to view God and others as unsafe and untrustworthy. As a result, she struggled to believe that she could ever be good enough and found herself in a consistent cycle of shame and avoidance–until God revealed his unconditional love for her. In this episode, Shelby shares her story of how unconditional love and acceptance broke her vicious shame cycle, and how that kind of radical love is the key for personal freedom and lasting change.
I grew up in the church. While they didn’t have any intention to cause harm, the way they taught about God was fundamentally flawed. It wasn’t so much that the content was explicitly incorrect, but the way that it was taught caused a lot of problems for me.
Since our brain keeps a detailed, unconscious record of all that’s happened to us, stored memories will impact how we see and experience new information and experiences on a subconscious level in the future. How I viewed God as I grew older became skewed, because as a child, I was taught about God in a very moral fashion; it was all about doing the right thing and not displeasing God. My unconscious perception–that God was judgmental and displeased with me most of the time–deeply impacted how I viewed Him, myself, and others.
This made me feel very conflicted, because the God I knew and read about in the Bible was a lot different than the God they taught in church. The things I learned in the church kept me from experiencing God for who He truly is. This is a problem that many people run into; someone within the church hurts them deeply, and from then on, they associate God as having the characteristics of that person who was supposed to be representing Him.
As I grew up, I developed a constant, low-key depression because I believed I was always failing God. I tried to alleviate my distress by keeping busy and doing “good things.” But this led to a chronic cycle of guilt and shame, because I would inevitably make a mistake, and I felt the only way to fix it would be to distance myself from God in self-punishment.
Shame is a worthless emotion; it does not enable us to change. Shame causes us to feel that, as a person, we are fundamentally bad. My perception was so skewed from shame that it took time for God to work that out of me, to allow me to see him for who he is. As I’ve mentioned in previous episodes on brain functioning, since our brains are wired for consistency and predictability, even something good can be perceived as dangerous if it’s too different from what we currently believe. Since I believed shame was necessary and deserved, God telling me he was loving and understanding felt unsafe. I couldn’t quite believe it. But God persisted. When I turned 30, I specifically prayed to God that this would be my Jesus year, since Jesus began his ministry when he was 30. Little did I know just how powerfully God would answer that prayer.
I joined a Bible study that focused on the multi-dimensionality of God. I began seeing God as a God of miracles, power, hope, and healing–everything that I had read about in the Bible but was never told about in church. Entering The Break Method helped me to see ways that my behaviors were causing problems with my relationships; normally, that would have pushed me to a closet of shame, but this time, God specifically told me (over and over, every day for a week), “I love you and I’m proud of you.” That blew my mind. In my mind, that is not how the world works. In the real world, we have to clean up our act before we are worthy of love and acceptance. I believed that I had to be righteous and holy before God would accept me. But God revealed to me that he is not like that. He is just not. I had changed none of my behaviors yet, but God held none of his love back from me; he gave it to me for free. No strings attached. That was so healing to my heart. I finally felt safe.
The first step of getting out of shame is receiving unconditional love and acceptance; I believe this comes from God and his Holy Spirit. When we have that unconditional love and acceptance, then we can take responsibility for the actions and behaviors that live in us that are harmful and we can work to change them because we feel safe to do so. We have to feel safe and loved before we can really change. Changing behavior out of fear does little to actually change us. When we are not feeling the need to hide or protect ourselves the way we do when we are locked in shame and the fear of rejection, then we can move freely towards change. The God that I know is so incredible at giving this kind of love to people; he wants you to be healed, he wants you to be free, he wants you to experience his powerful love on a deep level, not because we deserve it or have done something to please him, but because he just loves us–unconditionally.
I am amazed by the healing and hope I have found in God. He is so interested in drawing us close to him and getting to know us. He gives us time to process our fear. He loves us as we are. I challenge you to ask God to reveal his true self to you so that you can experience this kind of radical love–the love that has overcome our shame. To get all the details of this episode, be sure to listen on your favorite streaming platform, and if you haven’t already, subscribe to my email list to stay up-to-date on all future podcast episodes!