Hello! Welcome to the Quivering Daughters website. Please note that this site is no longer being updated but I hope you find the archives helpful. God bless you.

The Mystery of Grace

My last article reviewed some of the features of shame, and drew comparisons between shame and guilt. To review, guilt–or godly conviction–is the feeling that follows sinfulness. For hearts submitted to Christ, it is a precious vessel by which we become aware that we have committed wrong, presenting the choice to seek forgiveness and restoration. On the other hand, shame is the internalized sense that I am wrong, worthless, evil, and have nothing of value to offer God or anyone else.

I have proposed that it can be helpful, when determining the source of your feelings, to ask: does this make me want to run to God or away from God? If the source of your emotion causes you to bury your head in darkness, I humbly beseech you to venture unto His feet and ask Him to reveal the deep inner secrets that oppress your soul.

. . .the Dayspring from on high has visited us;To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death; To guide our feet into the way of peace. Luke 1

Psalm 51:6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

The Voice of Shame

Do any of these ideas sound familiar?

  • I can’t do anything right; I am a failure.
  • I am worthless. There is nothing good about me.
  • If people only knew the real me, they wouldn’t even want to be around me.
  • God must think I am horrible.
  • I always say the wrong thing.
  • I can’t voice any of my needs or desires. . .most of them are ungodly, anyway.
  • I don’t deserve anything nice.
  • No matter what I do, I am still selfish and bad inside.

Most of these negative beliefs emerge from a deep sense of imperfection. The drive for perfection I believe comes, in part, by a good desire to live righteously and to. . .be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. Matt. 5 Some of us are inclined to have a pleasing nature, which can slip into idolatry as we seek the approval of others over God.

When I struggled with depression, the overwhelming sense in my mind was “It’s not that I make mistakes; its that I am a mistake!” I firmly believed the world would have been a better place and that my family would have been happier, if I had never been born. More than anyone I could see my own shortcomings. My “failures” loomed like towering, smothering giants, bellowing smoke and fire. They weighed upon me like a death sentence.

The Voice of Truth

For those who have been raised in shame-based families, a crucial element to healing is learning to replace these lies with truth from God’s word. What does He have to say?

One of the most precise passages addressing this is found in Romans 8. . .There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Meditate upon this verse, for truly Christ has come to set us free from the bondage of sin and death. What is more deathly than shame? It undermines everything within our hearts and renders us less effective for the kingdom.

Marilyn J. Sorensen, Ph.D., author of “Breaking the Chain of Low Self-Esteem”, writes:

“Early in life, individuals develop an internalized view of themselves as adequate or inadequate within the world,” she said. “Children who are continually criticized, severely punished, neglected, abandoned, or in other ways abused or mistreated get the message that they do not ‘fit’ in the world — that they are inadequate, inferior or unworthy.”

These feelings of inferiority are the genesis of low self-esteem, Sorenson says.

“Individuals with low self-esteem become overly sensitive and fearful in many situations,” she said. “They are afraid they won’t know the rules or that they’ve blundered, misspoken or acted in ways others might consider inappropriate. Or they might perceive that others reject or are critical of them.”

Once low self-esteem is formed, the person becomes hypersensitive — they experience “self-esteem attacks” that take the form of embarrassment or shame, Sorenson adds.

“Unlike guilt — which is the feeling of doing something wrong,” she said, “shame is the feeling of being something wrong. When a person experiences shame, they feel ‘there is something basically wrong with me.'”

Consider the implications of this.

For a woman to spend her life feeling rejected, inferior, unworthy, inadequate, and a blight on the face of the earth. . .how indescribably sad! Unfortunately, it is all too common. In my humble opinion, if the enemy can keep a woman shamed–he has done his work. A condemned woman, tortured by her own thoughts and memories and messages she received throughout her life has no will to live. It can be a challenge merely to rise in the morning, much less smile and be a shining light within the darkness.

It is not that she will not try. Oh, she will. . .fatigued, plagued with self-doubt, and summoning every ounce of motivation, she will burst forth and try to prove invaluable to those around her so she can find a sense of satisfaction and purpose in life. Sheer desperation, hunger for acceptance and approval, and a frenzied effort of doing will keep her spinning in a vicious cycle. . .further compounding shame as mistakes glare her in the face when she fails.

To this woman Jesus extends a restraining hand. Come to Me, He pleads. I will give you rest.

No condemnation.

There lies before us a choice. Do we want to listen to the old messages of condemnation, or to the gentle voice of the Son of God? Healing lies within His blood-stained hands.

1 Cor. 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. . .

I believe that each time a shaming lie pops into our mind, it is essential to choose then and there what we will believe. It is re-training, in a sense; replacing grave errors with truth. Because of Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame. . .we can approach the throne of grace with boldness for the help we need to overcome this battle.

Grace

My exhortation to you is to be gentle to yourself. Do not grow impatient as you learn to walk a new way. Take every moment by moment, and pray without ceasing. Oh, dear one. . .I pray that you will know the cleansing, healing mercy and grace that the Father offers! To partake of His grace is the most precious gift; for it bypasses your doing, and warmly embraces your being! This exquisite gift brings joy and life and freedom from the subtle roots of shame that oppress! This is His answer for a weary, burdened soul seeking relief.

. . .the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit,as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth. . .For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. Col. 1

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I strongly recommend “Released from Shame: Moving Beyond the Pain of the Past” by Sandra D. Wilson.


6 comments:

  1. Hillary, I just discovered your site tonite (1:30 a.m.), and I wish I could remember whose link led me here. Nonetheless, I don’t know whether to just sit in profoundly awed and grateful silence and tears or to send up fireworks and drive through town (in this middle of a night) and loudly proclaim-if I could-that there is freedom for captives. Your words are amazing and insightful and healing. Please don’t stop writing and please don’t think that because a post receives no comments it is somehow a measure of its worth or value. I have found every single one of your posts to have life-preserver elements (and I have read and valued all the comment trails, too). I am going to copy your entire site, if it is ok, and send it to my adult children, whom I think desperately need the help, affirmation, insight, and encouragement you give, and who don’t have access to unlimited internet access (it takes an eternity to read a rich site like yours when one is only accorded an hour at a time at a library computer). I wish I could say I have a favorite post but I have just immersed myself in the springs of fresh water that overflow here. However, in this link, your paragraphs beginning “For a woman to spend her life feeling rejected…etc.,’ and “It is not that she will not try…” so aptly summarize the desperation and futile effort and struggle I have felt of recent and of longstanding past. I don’t mean to gush, but I simply cannot thank you enough for what you have written. “No will to live…It can be a challenge merely to rise in the morning, much less smile and be a shining light within the darkness” sum up how I have felt the past 18 months as a pinnacle of growing feelings of the same for years and years. I hope and pray that when I wake up in a few hours that I will remember the hope that I now feel, that has only come in rare and minute glimpses over recent and not so recent past. I am desperate for it. And I have ‘been a Christian’ for as long as I can remember. Life in Christ should not be so bleak or so wearisome or so guilt and shame laden. I am so grateful that God has given you such an articulate and artful gift of expression. I agreed with every word you have written, and it has bouyed my spirit just to read here.
    Many, many, many thanks.

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  2. Anonymous–{{{{{HUGS}}}}}}

    God bless you, dear one! Your words encourage me in ways you will never know. I pray that as you do wake up this morning, the mercies of our Father–which are new every morning–will wash over you like healing rain.

    It makes me deeply sad that so many women–myself included for years–feel these things when it is so opposite of the very reason why Jesus came! His very purpose, in His own words . . .

    The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
    Because He has anointed Me
    To preach the gospel to the poor;
    He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
    To proclaim liberty to the captives
    And recovery of sight to the blind,
    To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
    To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD. (Luke 4)

    If this is His purpose, and we are the ones to whom He has come and offered such a precious gift–follow His pleading. Come, and rest.

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  3. i'm 30 years old, and i was abused by my pastor father. i have had varying degees of counseling since i was 23 and varying degrees of success. it is only this year that i am figuring out that i am not worthless or a mistake. i have been feeding off toxic shame for years that i don't even hear my own negative self-talk most of the time. i cried reading your post today. thank you for sharing his heart.

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  4. Anon 6:15 ~ praying for you tonight. May the Lord's grace and mercy continue to soothe the wounds that scar your soul. {{Hugs Anon}} Emmanuel.

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  5. this reminded me of myself…it made me cry…

    i always want my husband and kids to be happy…i do anything to make them happy….but i am always telling him and myself that i dont deserve to be happy…
    today i even told him…if i was rich i would buy you and the kids a house adn a car and it would all belong to you, all i want to own is my clothes and nothing more, i don't deserve anything
    he looked at me like i was crazy but i think this way alot…

    i have never once thought in my whole life that i should be alive, i have always thought evryone around me would be better off if i wasnt alive…

    thank you for this post….just one more thing telling me i should get help, and that i deserve help

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  6. Ohhh sweetie, the lie of shame that tells you these things is so horrible! When Jesus went to the cross he despised the shame and had victory. Cling to Jesus; He is the Truth. And you are made in the image of the Eternal Father who loves you and gave you your children and husband. {{hugs}}

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