Being Open and Honest about Shame

“Shame for me is that voice inside me screaming: YOU AREN’T GOOD ENOUGH, YOU AREN’T WORTHY, YOU WILL NEVER FIND LOVE.

I’ve battled these lies for as long as I can remember, but have never been able to say it was shame. Honestly, I am not sure the label matters as much as the truth that that’s not really who I am.

Recently, I began stepping into a time of deep spiritual transformation. I have begun a 24 week process of digging deep into becoming more of who God made me to be. From day one I have had mixed feelings about this process. I was excited to step into being more of the person God intended me to be. Yet, I was, and still am, terrified. Because transformation is painful and it is scary, especially for someone who fear has had a tight hold on for a long time.

The first few weeks had their challenges, but truly weren’t horrible. But then we started talking about shame. I’ve never realized just how powerful it is in my life. All of my years of depression can be boiled down to my shame voice. This voice in my head yelling at me, telling me I’m not good enough. I’ve heard it over and over again. It has brought me down to some pretty low points in life. I’ve believed it more times than I want to admit.

While I have grown significantly over the years in how much this voice controls me, I still have times where it is loud! I mean I feel like I am on the verge of a panic attack loud. I had one of those experiences a few days ago. I could hear that voice in my head yelling I wasn’t good enough. It told me I was ugly. It told me my dreams of being a wife or mother will never become reality, because well I wasn’t worthy of that.

The voice was so very loud.

The piece of my life that brings the most shame is the fact that I am nearly 31 years old and am still single. I have never been married. The load of shame that comes with that is heavy, like could suffocate you heavy. It comes from the culture I live in, a culture saying you aren’t really somebody until you are at least married. Fortunately, I don’t get that pressure from my family like some people do. For that I am blessed! But it also comes from inside my head and my heart. My heart’s desire is to be married. My desire is to be on a man’s side fighting with and for him. I want to be able to show them what they mean not only to me, but the world. I want to be able to encourage them to grow deeper into the person God made them to be. I want to do life, the ups and downs, with them.

But shame keeps telling me I am not worth that. My past keeps telling me I am not worth that. I have multiple times tried to be that person fighting for another and it was met with my heart being stomped on. Shame has used that to dig deeper into telling me it’s me. I am not worth it. It is because I am not good enough. It tells me that the reason those guys did what they did has nothing to do with their brokenness, but is all about my unworthiness.

Shame also tries to tell me it’s God’s fault and I can’t trust him. One of the things I have begun to learn through this spiritual transformation process is how shame affects my view of God. The shame has shaped this view that I am not good enough because I haven’t performed well enough. I’ve bought into this performance lie that the reason my dreams aren’t becoming reality is because I haven’t being obedient enough or loved the way God asked me to.

Now, this isn’t really God. That is a false view of him. That’s just not the way he works. It leaves no room for grace. But shame has been working hard to get me to believe it. Sometimes it works. But sometimes it doesn’t.

I am still working on trying to figure out how to silence that shame voice in my head. There was a week where I thought I had made significant progress in shutting it up, believing that I was in fact something, that I do matter, that I am worthy, and that I am unconditionally loved no matter what. But then I had last week. Sometimes it feels like you make three steps forward and ten steps back.

I am, though, refusing to give into that shame voice. I refuse to quit. I don’t want to live in that place of that voice yelling at me all the time, because truly it is a miserable place to be. I don’t want to give shame that much control over my life. I don’t want to give what does or does not happen in my life room to define who I am.

I’ve been reading Brene Brown’s book “Daring Greatly” which gives me hope. It reminds me that I am not alone, we all deal with this shame voice in some way or another. It also reminds me that it is in silence that shame has room to grow. Once we put it out into the open it loses its power on us. I want to do my best to not be silent about this for two reasons. Maybe being open and honest about it will loosen the grip it has on my life. But also, maybe in my vulnerability someone else will know they are not alone in their shame.”

—Anna LaCore