Updated: Aug 5
“As the Scripture says: ‘Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.’” (Romans 10:11, NIV)
After my first year of college I worked for the summer at camp. It was one of, if not the best summer of my life so far. First and foremost, I was at camp and Bluewater Covenant Bible Camp is my favorite place in the entire world. I got to work with my friends, learn about God, get a tan and work with kids (not necessarily in that order, some days it was cloudy ☺).
There is a scene from family camp that summer I will never forget. One afternoon I was helping out in the “craft cabin” when a young girl came in to make a little notebook that you could sew together. She really wanted to put a glittery hand print on the front so I helped her get paint on her hand and put her hand print on the cover. As she reached for the bottle of glitter, her mom walked in, and she turned quickly and knocked the jar over.
Anyone who has ever worked with glitter knows that the chaos that ensued was both difficult and comical because glitter will stick to you for generations. But we tried to clean it up and as we tried it got more and more spread out, all over the table, the floor, myself and definitely all over her. Her mom was trying to sweep it all up and getting more and more upset so I told them not to worry, we got the glitter hand print done and I would take care of it. When they walked out, the mom pulled her daughter outside and said “Look what you’ve done, you’ve ruined your new swimsuit, shame on you!”
I don’t know who was fighting back tears harder myself or that little girl. Now I can’t speak to the situation around that new swimsuit, if it was a financial stress or perhaps a gift from a loved one. I know that family quite well and I know they have great hearts for the Lord and each other. I know above all that, a jar of glitter on a new swimsuit was not and will never be worth shame.
Shame is an ugly thing, it is a dark thing and it is a thing we all feel. But that wasn’t always the case, Genesis 2:25 tells us that when Adam and Eve were in the garden “They were naked and felt no shame.” Think of it, they were so completely free that shame was not part of their worldview. God never intended shame to be part of His creation because he knew it was destructive and a powerful tool the enemy uses to wrap us in fear and doubt. We know that is true because as soon as Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the forbidden tree they immediately hid out of shame and fear.
Shame is the opposite of freedom, and Christ came for freedom that we may be set free. Shame strips away our courage and replaces it with doubt, insecurity and the inability to move past the shame itself. Author Brene Brown puts it perfectly, “Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.”
Biblically, shame is used often in anger; it is a threat by David in many of the Psalms. He asks God to put his enemies to shame. It is used as an identifier for the greedy and the isolators, as an insult to God: “How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods? Selah” (Psalm 4:2). When David asks for mercy he asks not to be put to shame. (Psalm 25:20)
Think of where in your life you feel shame. Maybe it’s something you’ve done in the past that feels like a secret that no one can know. Maybe it’s something you haven’t done yet, the responsibility you have been shirking, the to-do list that includes changing yourself first, the fact that the money never adds up, all the things that make you embarrassed about where you are. Now think of what it would be like to be free from that cloud. What would you do if someone forgave you for your secret, accepted you just as you are, or paid your debts? The mere thought brings a certain lightness. That is the kind of freedom Christ desires for us, he wants to shine a light into those dark places, not to shame us for the state of things but to bring light into all areas of our lives.
The great thing is, the Bible tells us again and again that if we trust in God we will not be put to shame. The great thing about that is it doesn’t mean you will simply exist and not be put to shame, but that you will be free, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)
So where do you choose to live today, darkness and shame or light and freedom? I know it’s not easy but as a community of Christ we get to be light and freedom for those around us so the darkness can be peeled away. No matter what, we are not in the business of dispensing shame onto others. Remember, “shame on you” is a four letter word.
Ali can be reached via email here.