Tag Archives: shame

Out of Exile: Day 31 – Facing Your Shame

In a recent post I talked about facing your nakedness; that’s what happens when exile strips you of everything you’ve leaned on for your self-worth.  I asked: can you live with that person?  Can you love that person?

If you can’t love yourself “naked” (that is, in your weakness) you won’t be able to love or even tolerate anyone else. We are as harsh with others  as we are with ourselves.

If you find yourself hating your weakness or hating other’s weakness (including God for allowing your exile) then I hope you see the red flag that is waving in the mirror. Something is seriously wrong and you need to admit it and deal with it. 

When we can’t cope with our shame we act out in many self-destructive ways.  This is one reason exile can be so long and painful. 

There are many reasons we feel inadequate.  One is: we are! Ha! How do you like that? We work so hard to tell ourselves and each other, “I’m okay and you’re okay.” That’s not true. We are all flawed.  That doesn’t mean we are worthless. But it is our condition. The quicker we can admit that the better.

It’s like people in recovery through A. A.  How do they introduce themselves?  I’m Remy and I’m an alcoholic.  They aren’t trying to humiliate themselves. They are just being honest because you can only strengthen what you first admit is weak.

We typically look to cover up our flaws. But that’s a lot of work isn’t it? In my book, Healing the Hurts of Your Past, I took an in-depth look at how we make many attempts to compensate for our weakness. I compare it to a tool belt that we strap on every day with a variety of coping mechanisms to face the pain of our shame: things like perfectionism, people-pleasing, isolation, medication, etc. When we can’t cope with our shame we act out in many self-destructive ways.  This is one reason exile can be so long and painful. There are many posts on this site detailing this.

But the answer to the pain of shame is to shift your identity from what you do to who you are as God’s child.  What would it be like if you could be accepted just as you are, warts an all? What if you could feel valuable no matter how much you failed or fell short of your goals and dreams…no matter how little you accomplished in ministry? And what if you could, in turn, share that kind of love, mercy and grace to others?  Not that you abandon goals or ethical ideas, you just don’t use them as tools to punish yourself and others.

I can remember the day it hit me that God saw me as perfect in his sight, not because of what I’ve done, but because I put my faith in what Jesus did for me (and the entire world). If you are a minister in exile, now is the time to make this a reality in your life. It can’t be something you talk about glibly.  This message will never become good news to others if isn’t good news to you first.

I’ve always loved the prayer that Paul includes in his letter to the Ephesian church:

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19

What does “fullness” look like to you? Is it something you need to earn or can you simply receive it as a gift from God? Could it be that you’ve been stuck in exile so long because you don’t like yourself very much and you feel the need to punish yourself for it? Think about that before you are quick to discount it.  I’d love to hear back your thoughts.

Top Five Posts on readingremy.com

I haven’t done a Top Five list for a while. I thought you might like to see what tops the reading list.

Here are the top five posts on readingremy.com from the past three months.

  1. shame

    from readingremy.com

    Forgiving Yourself: Consider the Lie

  2. What Does the Bible Say About Shame?
  3. Regret-Proof Your Life with Better Decisions
  4. The Spiritual Implications of Brene Brown’s TED Talk on Vulnerability
  5. Ten Ways Denial Numbs the Pain of Shame

Would you share this post on Facebook to expose others to these posts? Thanks!

If you are a subscriber to this blog, have you requested the free STUCK sampler?  It’s a preview of my new book “STUCK…how to mend and move on from broken relationships“. Just leave a comment below and I’ll send it right off.

Here’s what a recent reviewer of STUCK said about the book…

STUCK is a very well written and helpful resource that will help many people. God has gifted Remy with the ability to synthesize his life experiences, what he’s read and seen and put them all into an easy to read and understandable work on a very difficult and challenging topic. 

If you aren’t a subscriber, subscribe and you’ll get the STUCK sampler too!

Forgiveness Let’s You Start Over

forgiveness looks to the future

Forgiveness looks to the future

Earlier this week I talked about the fall of Eliot Spitzer and his residue of shame. I asked if he would have to live his life with the brand of his indiscretion or could forgiveness give him a fresh start.

The Bible tells a story about a woman who might give us some perspective. She was caught in the act of adultery and dragged to the center of town where the religious elders surrounded her and were ready to stone her.

In that culture her sin defined her. Adultery made her worthless and disposable.  It didn’t offer her any hope of a new life.

But just before the men threw the first stone Jesus stopped the men and said…

If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.

Slowly the men dropped their stones and walked away…each one aware of their own sin issues. And then after the men left, Jesus turned to the woman and said,

Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’No one, sir,’ she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared.Go now and leave your life of sin.’ John 8:10,11

Forgiveness gives you a new life

Jesus refused to define this woman by her sin.  He refused to reduce her entire existence to her weakest and most shameful moments. He knew that there was more to her than that. He refused to condemn her… which means to pass judgment on her, or make a negative decision about her value. Instead, Jesus forgave her and gave her hope of a new life beyond adultery.

If Jesus were to sit down with Eliot Spitzer today, I don’t think he’d spend much time talking about the sins of his past. I think he’d spend more time talking about the hope of his future and the potential that he has. That’s the nature of forgiveness.

Forgiveness looks to the future

Forgiveness doesn’t dwell on the past. Guilt dwells on the past. Condemnation dwells on the past. But forgiveness looks to the future. And so if you are struggling with guilt today I want to encourage you that God has a future for you. He hasn’t given up on you.

Why not receive his forgiveness and hit the “reset” button.

Question: Has forgiveness enabled you to hit the reset button? If so, I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment below.

  • This post is taken from the free e-book, Forgiven...once and for all. To get your free e-book subscribe to this blog.
  • To learn more about overcoming shame see Healing the Hurts of Your Past

The Residue of Shame

shame

Forgiveness hits the reset button in life

A few years back TIME magazine wrote an article about the reemergence of Eliot Spitzer, the former governor of New York.  He was known as a man who fought corruption with a vengeance only to be exposed as a regular user of a high dollar prostitution ring.

To make matters worse, to cover his addiction he would send money to shell corporations that funneled the money back to the prostitution ring.  TIME called it…

 …hypocrisy on a scale that was hard to fathom…as if Eliot Ness had been busted for peddling gin from his apartment.

When the news hit the paper his career was over.  Now he is trying to find his way back into politics but the writer of the story wasn’t so sure it could happen.  She said…

To learn that Spitzer was the world’s biggest hypocrite, that he’d thrown it all away to frequent prostitutes, was devastating, a lapse that could never be forgiven.

When she mentioned this to Spitzer this is how he responded…

‘How do you think I feel?’  He said, his eyes welling up. ‘I know exactly how you feel. At one point I stood for something that was important and useful. I was in a place in time where I had a purpose, where it mattered. And then I destroyed it.

The Residue of Shame

Thankfully his wife seemed to forgive him but not without some residue of shame in their relationship.  The article said …

His wife…appears to have forgiven him. ‘I don’t know if you can ever mend something like this, in the sense of repair the canvas so that you never see the tear in the fabric,’  he said. ‘ I’m incredibly lucky to be with a woman who is willing to deal with that tear in the fabric and keep moving forward.’ Eliot Spitzer’s Impossible Mission, by Sheelah Kolhatkar, March 15, 2010, TIME

Spitzer said there would always be a scar in the fabric of his marriage. The writer of the story said that the public would never be able to forgive him. And Spitzer himself said that he destroyed his purpose in life.

As I read this it made me wonder if Spitzer will be defined by his indiscretion for the rest of his life. Will his name be synonymous with hypocrisy and prostitution forever? Will he ever be able to move beyond his mistakes or the shame in his new destiny?

Do Indescretions Have to Define You?

I don’t bring this up to add to Spitzer’s shame but because I’m concerned for those of us who – like Spitzer – have a past that overshadows your present and your future. You have some big time mistakes or failures that haunt you and rob you of God’s best.  I don’t want these failures to define you. I don’t want you trapped in shame and feeling distant from God because that’s not your destiny as one of God’s children. God has something much better for you than that.

I want to talk over the next several posts about God’s forgiveness because I believe that receiving God’s forgiveness is like hitting the “reset” button on your life.

Question: Are there others that come to mind, like Spitzer, who have severely broken trust with the public to the point of never recovering?  Leave your comments below.

  • These posts are taken from my free e-book, Forgiven...once and for all. To receive your free copy subscribe to this blog.
  • Learn more about shame here: Healing the Hurts of Your Past

Shame Makes You Mistreat Yourself

Shame obligates you to mistreat yourself. In Healing the Hurts of Your Past I wrote…

Shame: Self Sabotage

Shame: Self-Sabotage

Have you ever known someone who was in an abusive relationship? You beg and plead with them to leave it and when they finally do you are thrilled. Now they can find a healthy person. But then, to your shock, within a week they are in another abusive relationship. Why do they do that?  They don’t think they deserve anyone better.

Can you relate?

But people don’t limit this behavior to relationships. They accept inferior jobs, inferior service at stores, inferior food at restaurants and inferior workmanship from contractors. They can’t find it in them to demand better because they are convinced that they don’t deserve it. 

Shame Makes You Sabotage Yourself

It gets worse. Shame not only makes you accept the inferior, when you manage to find something good in life, shame causes you to sabotage it.

Sabotage is when you actually get something good in life but you find reasons to reject it. If you are given a nice present you might “accidentally” break it or lose it. If you find someone who really loves you, you might betray them or reject them before they reject you. If you land a great job you might get drunk and skip work for three days, hoping that they’ll fire you. Losing something good is painful but it is not as painful as the shame you feel for having things you don’t deserve. 

The sad thing is…you spend so many years in defeat you have no idea how to manage success. As much as you want it, long for it, fantasize about it…it scares you to death. Defeat is your comfort zone and so you stay there.

Is there any hope for change? It requires a soul change…a spiritual and psychological reset. But thankfully God is happy to give you what you need.  If you are willing to listen to a New Voice and not the lies of shame then you have a great chance for change.

Leave a comment below and I’ll send you my free e-book, Forgiven…once and for all. This will expose you to how God loves and values you. If you like what you read then you might want to consider reading Healing the Hurts of Your Past.

Bruce Springsteen’s Depression

I enjoyed reading the current New Yorker on article on Bruce Springsteen. It gave an overview of his musical career along with insight into his inner workings.  What I found especially interesting was what it said about Bruce Springsteen’s depression.

Bruce Springsteen's Depression

Bruce Springsteen’s Depression

It’s always interesting to learn about the humanity of an icon. Springsteen spoke of his struggles  with depression and self-loathing. Self-loathing?  Bruce Springsteen?  This is from the article…

Bruce Springsteen’s Depression

He was feeling suicidal,” Springsteen’s friend and biographer Dave Marsh said. “The depression wasn’t shocking, per se. He was on a rocket ride, from nothing to something, and now you are getting your ass kissed day and night. You might start to have some inner conflicts about your real self-worth.”Springsteen was playing concerts that went nearly four hours, driven, he has said, by “pure fear and self-loathing and self-hatred.”

I was teaching today about Healing the Hurts of Your Past, discussing the source of shame. Someone shared that their shame didn’t come from their failure. It came from their success.   The more A’s they got in school and the prettier they looked, the more they felt unworthy of all the credit they accrued.

In the same way, Springsteen’s success made him start to feel like an impostor. Who was he to be so successful? Who was he to sing about the working class when he was now a multi-millionaire? The article continues…

He played that long (four-hour concerts) not just to thrill the audience but also to burn himself out. Onstage, he held real life at bay.

“My issues weren’t as obvious as drugs,” Springsteen said. “Mine were different, they were quieter—just as problematic, but quieter. With all artists, because of the undertow of history and self-loathing, there is a tremendous push toward self-obliteration that occurs onstage. It’s both things: there’s a tremendous finding of the self while also an abandonment of the self at the same time. You are free of yourself for those hours; all the voices in your head are gone. Just gone. There’s no room for them. There’s one voice, the voice you’re speaking in.”

Springsteen said that the only way he could cope with his self-loathing and depression was through years of therapy. It’s what kept him sane.

No one is above depression. Fame and fortune are no guarantee of the good life or peace of mind. In fact, it might guarantee the opposite unless you have your head on straight.

There’s different things that speak to depression and self-loathing but what I’ve found to help people is rooted in what God says about us and not our latest performance.

Question: How has your success caused you to doubt yourself, get depressed and/or even loathe yourself. Leave your comment below.

Share the knowledge by clicking a link below. Thanks.

Forgiving Yourself – Break the Vow

forgiving yourself

Forgiving yourself – break the vow

This is the last in a series of six posts on forgiving yourself. Be sure to track back to read all  the posts.

One reason many people can’t forgive themselves is because  they made a vow to not forgive themselves.  They decided that their actions were so immoral or reprehensible that they could never forgive themselves.  This is their way of punishing themselves in a manner equal to their offense.

Forgiving Yourself – The Power of a Vow

I’ve learned from my counseling experience that vows are very powerful acts of the will.  They are stronger than a belief or a decision.  They act almost like a one way ticket in the mind.  In other words, once you make a vow, there’s almost no going back. People who make vows cease to decide in certain situations.  The vow predisposes them to act without the benefit of reason.

For example; if I was hurt by a good friend in the past, I may vow to never have a close friend again.  That decision might protect me in some ways from being hurt but it also cuts me off from any level of intimacy with potential friends.

Imagine that God sends a friend into my life to help me, encourage me, comfort me or love me but my reaction is an immediate wall, pushing them away. I won’t have anything to do with them because I chose years ago, in the vow, to never have a close friend again. It’s  like a switch is flipped in my brain preventing me from even allowing a friendship to happen. I’m not open to it.

The same thing happens when it comes to forgiving yourself. People vow to never forgive themselves.  They may not even realize what they have done or what is happening. They don’t understand the power  the vow has in their life to keep them from experiencing self-kindness.

Forgiving Yourself – Breaking the Vow

Because of this it’s important to break the vow.  I can’t say what takes place when this happens…if it’s emotional, or psychological or spiritual or a little of all three.  But something happens. I’ve seen it. When people choose to break a vow it’s like their mind is suddenly given back the ability to choose.

Let’s use my example again. In the past I might flat-out reject the kindness of a potential friend.  After I break the vow, there is a split second of choice where I have the ability to consider the possibility of allowing myself to experience the closeness of a friendship again. In the same way, if you break the vow to not be forgiven, you will finally be open to at least consider stopping your self-punishment and allowing good things to happen.

How do you break a vow?

Breaking a vow is an act of the will before God.  So pray something like this:

Father, I realize that I’ve made a foolish vow.  Looking back, I made it out of self-protection.  But now I see that it’s no longer helping me.  It’s hurting me.  So Father, I take back my vow to never forgive myself.  I break the vow and choose to reopen my mind and heart to everything that you have for me.  Forgive me for the years I’ve wasted by being closed off to your forgiveness.  Soften my heart to the truth of your forgiveness.  Let it seep into the deepest part of my being and heal me of my brokenness. In the split seconds when I have the chance to choose or reject your forgiveness, please empower me to receive it and allow good things to happen once again. Thank you Father. Amen.

I discuss vows in my book Healing the Hurts of Your Past.

Question: What kind of vows have you made to protect yourself? Leave your comment below.