Chasing Freedom

Shame: Personal, Permanent, Pervasive

By April 3, 20142 Comments

crownIt all started with shame. I was ashamed of who I was. No, I wasn’t a terrible person and I never endured much of what other women have that evokes shame. But I wasn’t super smart or super pretty or super athletic or super funny. I was simply plain, run-of-the-mill average. And I was ashamed.

For fourteen years, anorexia allowed me to excel at something. No one wanted to compete with me, but I competed with everyone. In my malnourished mind, I “won” every time I was thinner than another girl, every time I turned down food that another person simply couldn’t resist, every time I went for a long run in the rain while others pulled the sheets over their heads and enjoyed the warmth of a cozy bed. I was an excellent anorexic.

Finally, I surrendered. I quit trying to make myself into someone I could be proud of—someone with a strong self will, a perfect figure and uncompromising strength. I finally relinquished my pursuit of “excellence”. But then, shame reared its ugly head again; this time, he had a double-edged sword.

You’re still average—average weight, average strength, normal temptations. Did you just h seconds? You’re pathetic. I can’t believe how much of your parents’ money you wasted. It’s shameful the emotional toll your behavior took on your sisters and friends. I can’t believe you call yourself a Christian and you couldn’t even summon the faith to get “healthy” in less than 14 years. You’ll always be pathetic.

Henry Cloud says that shame has three characteristics that distinguish it from God’s gentle correcting voice. He says shame is always personal, permanent and pervasive.

I ran the diagnostics on the voice that kept accusing me. You are pathetic. Pretty personal. In 1 Corinthians 6, even as Paul points out the Corinthians’ shortcomings, he also reminds them whose they are. “Do you not know that your bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit, whom you have from God? You are not your own.” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

Pervasive. It’s shameful the emotional toll your behavior took on your family and friends. I can’t believe you call yourself a Christian. The enemy’s accusation encompassed my whole life, my faith and all of my relationships. However, Colossians 3:3 says, “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” If sin and shame pervaded my life before, they do no longer because I have Christ’s life.

Permanent. You’ll always be pathetic. But the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “…anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” No sin or mistake is permanent. God holds nothing against me.

Today I walk free of those specific lies, but I know that shame will badger me again. But I have learned to recognized the voice of truth and I choose to listen to what my Father says about me: “You have made [me] a little lower than the angels and crowned [me] with glory and honor.” Psalm 8:5


Hello Body, by Jen Tormanen

Trying to Trust God but Still Bingeing, video resource

Big Thighs, Tight Jeans, book by Ann Capper, RD, CDN


Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Abby Kelly says:

    Oh Jenna, Amen! You’re absolutely right! You’ll enjoy today’s post on FINDINGBalance too, because (obviously) God keeps reminding me of this same lesson 🙂

  • Jenna says:

    Abby, I just want to encourage you that God is using your blog posts in mighty ways to speak truth and encouragement to women! I love reading your blog posts.. so many times I feel like I am reading my own writing! I so relate to your mindsets and struggles, and it is sweet how God continually points you back to the truth of who you and I are in Him. It is comforting to know that I am not alone in these mind battles and struggles with shame and inadequacy, but it is even more comforting to be reminded that in those things we are more than conquerors. We have a completely new life in Him, and there is endless and abundant joy to be found the more we let our guards down and allow him to fill us. For so long I thought my hard earned “happy” was the ultimate, but the more I let go of try hard performance and simply accept His love and let him fight for me, the more I realize that JOY from Him far exceeds my fake “fine”. But sometimes I have to actually admit that I’m hurting in order to receive real healing. He WILL give us fullness of joy and healing in the fullest when we stop trying to achieve it for ourselves. Thank you for writing.