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Shame

Written by Ayla S.

 

The eyes are the window to your soul. 

 

I never quite grasped the precision of this well known statement, until a rather solemn moment with my chiropractor two years ago.  I had been seeing him for about four years at the time.  He was undergoing his routine procedure of adjusting and identifying possible areas of concern, while holding my hands in this precarious way that only he and God understand.  He abruptly stopped in the middle of his conclusion and asked what was going on.  I responded with a light hearted laugh in an effort to ward off any notion that I was seriously ill.  He remained persistent in following up with “What has happened in your life recently? You are not the same.”  I nervously confessed my lack of interpretation of his insinuation in response to which he said that this was the first time in the four years I had been seeing him that I had looked him in the eyes while engaged in conversation.  His observation blew my mind as I realized in that moment how consumed my life had been by shame prior to my experiencing God’s healing and freedom.

 

If there is anything I have learned about shame it is that it secretly resides within the deep, hurting trenches of your soul.  It’s the intruder that you don’t discover until after he or she has left leaving irrevocable damage behind.  I know because I inadvertently carried it around for thirty years.  You see I was sexually abused by a male cousin between the ages of three and five and sporadically thereafter by others until the age of thirteen; and with the abuse came a tide of shame that shook me to the very core of my once innocent being.

 

Shame had become the basis of my identity and it was the boulevard through which all of my thoughts and feelings travelled throughout my childhood, adolescence, teenagehood and adulthood. 

 

Shame dictated how I perceived myself; unworthy, rejected, inadequate, dirty, guilty, damaged, unwanted, and unlovable.  Out of the overflow of these definitions came a toxic attraction to people who reinforced such feelings in the way they (mis)treated me.  I was bullied in school.  I was physically and sexually abused by boyfriends.  I was rejected by wavering friends who used me for money and materialistic things.  I was abused by my husband.  And the list goes on.  The interesting facet to all of this?  I was completely unaware that these relationships operated out of a spirit of shame so I allowed it, participated it, and at times, {ashamedly} initiated it too.

 

Then in 2006, at the age of twenty-five, I encountered the true, living God, Jesus, and my life began to drastically change.  I began experiencing true love and acceptance for the very first time, and His peace and joy began to take permanent residence in my heart.  While the assurance of salvation was glorious; the darkness of my shame-tainted soul remained unscathed.  That is the true nature of shame.  It remains hidden for as long as you can take it.  Until one day you can’t.  That day came for me in the midst of a year long step study through Celebrate Recovery in 2013.  We had started to delve into the source of our pain and the truth came bursting out at the seams of my brokenness in the face of recent suicidal ideations.  In a room full of other broken women, I tearfully confessed that I had been horrifically sexually violated numerous times as a child, and that I could not contain the pain and shame it had caused anymore.  Over the course of the following months, God began a healing work in me.  Layer by layer He healed me, and I began seeing myself through His eyes; worthy, accepted, enough, clean, whole, wanted and loveable.  And the guilt?  Well the CR 12 steps have a version specifically for the physically, sexually & emotionally abused.  It reiterated that the abuse was not my fault.  It echoed hope and healing as a reality because of Jesus’ finished work at the cross.

 

It encouraged me to forgive my perpetrators as a way to break chains that had held me captive for so long.

 

As I shockingly recognized, understood and accepted that I did not ask to be abused nor was I to blame for it, a fresh identity surfaced, and I began walking in it with a newly found boldness and confidence.  I could look at people in their eyes trusting that what they saw in mine was hope, peace, joy, strength and victory because of the healing and redeeming light of Jesus, and not the darkness of my painful past.  I began experiencing the benefits and blessing of authentic, safe, unconditional, gracious and caring relationships with others.  I also began sharing my story through my blog, Celebrate Recovery meetings, and other avenues.  This has brought a whole another layer of healing and freedom in my life, as I am now able to see that I serve a God who can make beauty out of horrific ashes from my past through those who are impacted and experiencing their own healing and freedom as a ripple effect of mine.  Finally, as I forgave my perpetrators, I was able to pray that God would have mercy on them and draw them to Him, so that they too can experience His redemptive hope.

 

I don’t know what the source of your shame may be or if you are even aware that it exists at this point in time, but what I do know is that shame is devastating, and it interjects every fiber of one’s being.  Shame is the epitome of contradiction when it comes to the nature of God’s love for us.  Shame holds us hostage.  God’s love gives us liberty.  Shame swallows our identity, claiming that our existence bears no value or purpose. God’s love resurrects our identity, declaring that our existence bears kingdom value and heavenly purpose.

 

How do you know if you are captive to shame? Shame can be identified by some checkpoints: Do you struggle with making eye contact when engaged in conversation with others? Are you hiding dark secrets from your past or even present because you fear rejection and judgment if you share them?  Are your relationships abusive, controlling, shaming, and/or manipulative? These are just a few facets of living under the shadow of shame.  If that is you, please know that you are audaciously loved by a God who died for you to be free from any and every stronghold including shame.  It may not happen instantaneously, but with the help of God’s transforming word, the power of the Holy Spirit and safe, unconditional people who will pray with you and encourage you, it is possible to be healed and free.

 

I know because I have experienced healing and freedom from shame and I am whole heartedly convinced that the same God Who loves me and did it for me, loves you and will do it for you too.

 

 

 


 

Meet Ayla

ProfilePicSqAyla

 

Born into Islam and born again into Christ; Ayla is a single Mommy to two mostly joyful, at times testy littles. She is a book worm, scripture hoarder, praise dancer, freedom junkie, and a lover of all things chocolate. Ayla writes at www.abeautifultapestry.com where her passion for Jesus and writing intersect in life stories that God continues to weave together for His glory. 

 


 

 

16 thoughts on “Shame

  1. Ayla thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m so thankful that God is doing such a beautiful work in your life. You show a heart full of faith in our everlasting and loving Father. Your words bring hope and you show us a compassionate God through your story. You are a lovely vessel for God to shine His light through. God Bless You Sweet One.

    1. Lisa, thank you so much for your kind & gracious words. Grateful to God for His healing presence in my life & that He is making something beautiful out of the horrific ashes. Indeed, He is so so compassionate praise God. God bless you <3

    1. Lori, thank you for taking the time to encourage me with such kind words. Grateful for a God who makes us brave & beautiful in spite of the pain we’ve endured. God bless you <3

  2. What a beautiful post! Thanks for sharing! Your words are very inspiring and also brings hope to those who might be going through some form of shameful experience themselves.

    1. Valerie, thank you for taking the time to read & comment on my post. I am so grateful that God can use my story to bring hope to others. That is exactly the reason why I write; so others can be free. God bless you <3

    1. Jennifer, you are so loved. I pray God brings such a tangible sense of His healing presence to you today. God bless you <3

    1. Kathleen, I’m so grateful that you were encouraged by my story. Thank you for taking the time to read & comment on it. God bless you <3

  3. “If there is anything I have learned about shame it is that it secretly resides within the deep, hurting trenches of your soul. It’s the intruder that you don’t discover until after he or she has left leaving irrevocable damage behind. ” – Wow, such true words! Sharing this so others can be blessed. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your story!

  4. My heart ached with sadness at the pain you endured but celebrated the freedom you are now experiencing. God is a healer of all things. Thank you for sharing your story. May it bless and draw others to the true healer so that freedom can be sought and received. Blessings dear sister!

  5. Ayla, I love your heart for writing this, and how eloquently you write. I love your vulnerability in sharing things that have hurt you deeply, but more so that you’re sharing the VICTORY God has given you over it by His Son, Jesus Christ. I too have a past that cuts deeply, though in different ways than you, and I’m sure, less severely. I still have nightmares about it, even after Biblical counseling, but I realize that God is doing a work in me because instead of anger and betrayal, I most often feel pity and fear for the souls of those who hurt and try to still hurt me. When I was able to feel sorrow for the state they are in, and pray for their true repentance and salvation, I knew He was helping me to forgive. <3 Thank you again for sharing and sending you love from a sister in Christ!
    ~ Tiffany

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