Shame, Our Souls, and the Gospel
[Guest Post by Kimberly Davidson Campbell – I have never met a woman who had it all together on the inside. Maybe you do a good job or holding everything together on the outside, but there’s always traces of shame that tries to steal our joy. I appreciate Kim’s words of encouragement today. Like fresh water in a desert oasis of my heart. Receive them today with love!]
As I sit in the passenger seat of my husband’s now trip-cluttered (otherwise immaculate) Camry, I am intrigued and overwhelmed by all the areas of shame that plague me.
These areas of shame don’t just plague me — but in some way — they plague most of the women we know.
According to author and blogger Shauna Niequist in Bread & Wine, most women are battling shame in two areas: how their bodies look and how their homes look. I would like to add one as well: how their children look (or act).
Here are some of those examples in my own life:
+ I’m ashamed that my husband is unable to give me a piggy-back ride or carry me over the threshold. This isn’t because he isn’t strong. He is. I love his arms and how strong they are. It is because I weigh almost 40 lbs more than him.
+ I am ashamed because of my flabby body. It is now covered with stretchmarks from two kids and losing large amounts of weight several times. I wouldn’t trade my boys for anything – but I don’t like stretchmarks.
+ I am ashamed because my closet is a mess and my husband’s is all in order and tidy.
+ I am ashamed because I struggle to keep our home as clean as the mister would like it. So I come unglued when he suggests that he could help do some of the dishes or vacuum. Shame affects pride.
+ In high school, I was ashamed as a part of the cheerleading squad and traveling singing group because the order size for my uniform or dress was always bigger than everyone else’s.
– I struggle when I am in public with my toddler and he is pitching a temper tantrum because he doesn’t want to do something. My parenting skills are not what they should be if he is misbehaving.
+ I (wrongfully) pride myself in that my boys have never had to have their nursery number put up on the screen during church for me to come and get them. I would die in horror if that ever happened.
You may or may not be able to resonate with any of these examples, but I’m sure you have examples of your own.
Maybe it’s why you can’t look at pictures taken long ago. Or why you keep private stashes of House Beautiful or Shape for midnight reading. Maybe your shame in your body comes from a tattoo from another time in your life you would gladly remove if you could. Or maybe it’s the scars from an abortion or eating disorder.
Shame is not only an indicator of the outward home or clothing size or perfect children. Shame reaches our souls and steals our joy!
Shame also reveals many other truths about our hearts:
- It reveals pride. I’ve mentioned this before, but pride is so ugly in a believer’s heart. Everything we have ever received is from God and is not of our own doing. So, when we strive to keep appearances up for the sake of making ourselves look better – it is not a helpful tool in sharing the truth of God’s Word. (Ephesians 2.8-10; Isaiah 2.17)
- Comparison is a nasty habit. Whenever we compare our lives with those of others it reveals an ungrateful heart to the Lord. It is wrecking friendships as well. Oh, be grateful in your heart for all that God has done for you and in you! He works all things together for our good and His glory! (Romans 8.18-39; Colossians 3.15-17)
- Both of these areas of our hearts reveal a lack of love for others. One of the two commandments we are given in the Word is love your neighbor as yourself. Friendships are one of most important things in my life. I love the sweet friends that God has blessed me with over the years and in every place I’ve lived. But, when I let sin hinder those relationships, it brings bitterness that takes forgiveness to overcome – by the truth of the Gospel. (1 Corinthians 13)
The Gospel – the life and work of Jesus Christ – as it does for every area of our lives, has a direct impact on our life and soul of shame.
- Jesus doesn’t love you because you are skinny or wear a certain size. I remember Anne Hathaway’s character in The Devil Wears Prada boasting in the fact that she was now in a size 4. But, her life wasn’t any happier than it was when she was slightly bigger. Jesus work in our lives often to heal us from an addiction to the scale or the tag on the skirt.
- The gospel isn’t yours only if you have a farmhouse table in your dining room or your baseboards never have a speck of dust on them. The gospel is ours not because of anything we have done – but because Jesus has done everything.
- Christ is ours no matter how our children behave – or misbehave! Claim that truth!
- Christ frees us! Romans 8.1 is a verse that every believer needs to claim for their lives as a mantra. We are free. There is no condemnation!
The next time you find it hard to believe that you are more than your house, your outward appearance, or any other area you find yourself ashamed of – rest in the doneness of the Gospel of Jesus! And boast in that!
Kimberly Davidson Campbell is a wife, mother, freelance writer and photographer who resides in the Atlanta area with her family. She graduated from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Masters of Divinity in Education. Her passions include life-on-life discipleship, speaking, teaching, writing, cooking, being healthy, and photography – and mostly spending time with her husband and two very active sons! She blogs regularly at http://kd316.com.