Have you ever accomplished something good and felt embarrassed about it, even though others around you thought you did great and congratulated you? That’s what recently happened to me.
My pastor, Jim Holt, invited me to talk with him about my book, Songs of Joy in the Valley of Tears. He planned on 30 minutes of sharing, but I was so excited I went far over the time limit. Secondly, what was designed to be a dialogue became more of a monologue. Neither of those things was huge problems for Jim. The Hope Chat would be edited before it went online. Jim said to me, “You did great!” (Here it is) Yet, the next day I woke up feeling terrible. So embarrassed.
“Jesus,” I prayed, “What is the problem? Why do I feel so terrible?” As I listened quietly for some insight, the above Scripture verse popped up in my mind. I recognized the terrible feeling as a “shame attack”. I had tuned in to my old way of unhealthy thinking in which perfectionism and denial of certain emotions were rules for successful living.
So my not-completely-transformed conscience, still functioning under law instead of grace, punished me.
According to my old rules (laws) of living it was not okay to admit to feelings of grief, loneliness, or anger. Especially anger. I talk about all of these emotions in my book on grief and mentioned them in my chat with Jim. According to my old rules of living, I broke a “don’t talk about this” rule, so I must be punished. (Shaming ourselves is a form of self-punishment.)
Thankfully, after my conversation with Jesus, the shame feeling left. Unhealthy ways of thinking cannot hang around long when confronted by the truth-seeing eyes and grace-filled, loving arms of Jesus.
If you have been taught to believe you must hide your feelings of loneliness, anger, and grief, it may be hard to believe otherwise. Spend some talking to Jesus about them. He can free you from the heavy load of shame . . . the need to look good, be perfect, and hide your grief.