It’s been reported that 85% of people’s problems are that they don’t like themselves. Why? Because of poor decisions we’ve made in the past, things we have done, things that have been done to us that were out of our control and on and on. The overall result being low self-esteem, shame, a poor self-image, guilt
When I was in college, I got a minor in Communication Studies. I took several classes learning about nonverbal communication which is simply the process of communication through sending and receiving wordless messages. Messages can be communicated through our posture, gestures, body language, facial expressions, eye contact, clothing, hairstyles, etc. In other words, you can tell a lot about a person without a word even being spoken.
It was very obvious to depict a person with low self-esteem by the way they carried themselves with shoulders down, arms crossed, head down usually with hair covering part of their face. On the other hand, a person with insecurities can very easily disguise their low sense of self-worth by being the life of the party, the center of attention, the loudest one in the room. But inside…that’s where their head is down. As soon as they get home alone, they wonder, “Did I make a fool of myself? Why did I do that?”
Luke 4:18 says, “Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted and to set at liberty them that are bruised.”
Jesus came to heal you every where you hurt. Whether your hurts can be seen by those around you or whether it’s disguised to the outside world, Jesus knows where you hurt and He wants to see you completely made whole. You may have been bruised by something that happen 20 years ago, 3 years ago, 2 months ago, and Satan would love for it to paralyze you for the rest of your life. He wants painful experiences to ultimately stop the plan of God for your life. How? By magnifying your mistakes, magnifying what’s been done to you causing you to feel shame.
What is shame? Shame is a painful sensation or emotion caused by a strong sense of guilt, or of having done
something that injures reputation. It is often or always manifested by a downcast look.
I think it’s interesting that a downcast look is non verbally communicating shame, disgrace, guilt, insecurity and low self-esteem – yet Psalm 3:3 says, “But you, O Lord, are a shield for me, the glory and the lifter of my head.” God doesn’t want you spending one day of your life with your head down in shame and guilt when Jesus already did that for you. His head was hanging down on that Cross so that yours could be lifted up. He was rejected so you could be accepted. He was bruised so you could be made whole. He carried your shame, so you could have dignity. It’s called the divine exchange.
I’ve had a real battle with overcoming shame and guilt, and I’ve learned 5 keys you must embrace if you ever want to pursue God’s plan for your life:
#1. REALIZE YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Satan has a way of making you feel like the worst person in the world. I know he has with me. He wants you missing out on what all God has for you because of shame and guilt. Usually, it’s our own opinion of ourselves that keeps us in bondage, not God’s opinion. And Satan knows that!
1 Peter 5:9 says, “Resist him standing firm in faith because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings…” It says it right there. People all over the world are going through the same thing you’re going through. You’re not alone. You’re not the worst person in the world. God isn’t mad at you. He’s not punishing you. You’re the one punishing yourself if you’re listening more to Satan’s lies about you than God’s truth.
The Lord said to me one time, “Don’t practice bondage. Practice freedom.” What is practicing bondage? Replaying your mistakes over and over in your mind, talking about it to others, asking God to forgive you for the same sin over and over, seeing yourself through those sins and mistakes, not praying boldly but with your head down barely asking God for anything…because you don’t deserve anything. That’s practicing bondage or you could say fulfi lling Satan’s plan for your life! Ouch!
#2. RECOGNIZE THE TRUE ENEMY: THE THIEF.
When a thief breaks into a house, he may wear different masks. He may wear a Mickey Mouse mask, a Frankenstein mask or a stocking over his head, but behind the mask, he’s still a thief there to take everything you’ve got! Satan is the one who is out to kill, steal and destroy your life (John 10:10), but he may have come disguised behind many different masks. We have to consciously remember that we are not wrestling with flesh and blood – we’re wrestling with the devil.
When a thief plots and plans to break into a house, he has a strategy. He watches when people leave in the morning, when they return at night, if they have an alarm system, etc. When he finally appoints his day of attack, he breaks in knowing he only has a limited amount of time before the alarm goes off and the police arrive. What would you think if he stole your tissue boxes, paper towels, plastic cups and trash bags? Insane, probably. Thieves go straight for what is valuable: the jewelry, the plasma screens, the money, the IPODs, etc. Well, why do you think Satan has had such an all out attack against your life? Because you’re valuable! And he knows it!
You may not feel valuable. You may have never been told that you are valuable, but you are. God needs you. He needs you to fulfill the assignment He put on your life. And you can’t do it with your head down reminding yourself of every wrong thing you’ve ever done. It will take courage and confidence to fulfill God’s plan for your life! Recognize who is behind these attacks in your life. It’s not your dad, your ex-wife or ex-husband, your old boyfriend, your coach, your former boss. It’s the devil! He’s the thief!
#3. REPENT – GET IT OUT OF YOU!
You can’t be free from something you haven’t completely put out of your life. In order to be free from the residue of shame and guilt, you must go before God and empty yourself out. 1 John 1:9 says, “If you confess your sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
God is such a gentleman. He waits for you to take the first step. James 4:7-8 tell us that if we come close to God, He’ll come close to us. In other words, the choice is yours. You simply ask God to forgive you of all that junk in your life, and instantly He forgives you of the sin and the guilt that came with it. You may have been through things that nobody knows about, but God does. He knows the pain it has caused in your heart. He knows the shame you’ve carried because of it. He knows the sorrow you feel. Bring it to the altar and release it once and for all. I’ve heard Beth Moore say, “Your past isn’t keeping you from God’s best – it’s your remembrance of your past.” Stop remembering what God forgot! Once you repent, it’s gone from you.
#4. RELEASE UNFORGIVENESS TOWARDS YOURSELF AND TOWARDS OTHERS.
I’ve had a much harder time forgiving myself than I have forgiving those that have hurt me. Forgiveness is a choice; it is not a feeling. You have to choose, on purpose, to forgive yourself and those around you. 1 Cor. 4:4 says, “My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.” God forgives you. Period! So, why would we still suffer with a guilty conscience if we sincerely repent of our sins? Because we don’t fully believe God’s Word. We live by what we feel rather than what the Word of God says.
When you release unforgiveness towards yourself and towards those who have hurt you, make it a defining moment. One time I wrote down every painful thing that someone had done to me, then I wrote down all those “haunting” memories of mistakes I had made. I brought my “stack of paper” before the Lord and made it a defining moment of ripping it out of my heart. I read each incident out loud (alone in my house) and repented of it all, ask the Lord to forgive me and said, “By faith, I choose to forgive myself and ____ (that person)…” and I began ripping the memories apart. It was a defining moment of release.
#5. RECEIVE GOD’S LOVE FOR YOU PERSONALLY.
This is the foundation for being free from shame and guilt. You have to know that God loves you personally. His love is unconditional – it is not based on your meeting all the right conditions. His love is unfailing, unending, it never looks back, it casts out fear and on and on. Does it make sense that God could love us after all that we’ve done wrong? Absolutely not.
I heard someone say the other day, “I don’t understand everything about electricity, but I’m not gonna sit around in the dark until I do.” You may not fully understand God’s love, but until you do, you might as well enjoy it. Receiving God’s love is entirely up to you. His love will drive shame, insecurity, inferiority and guilt right out of your life!
God has a specififi c assignment for your life, and He needs your head up, your shoulders back and you confifi dently doing what you were called to do. Don’t go another day of your life with your head held down when Jesus died to be the Lifter of Your Head.