Make a list of some things you think you are good at. Is shame on that list? Probably not. It should be, though. Whether we like to admit it or not, we are all good at shame. It’s been said that children begin to experience shame as soon as fifteen months of age. We are good at it because we’ve been practicing it for a while now.
Shame is destructive. It has a way of crumbling the image we have of ourselves. Some people might call this “self-esteem.” Self-esteem is that inner sense of worth or value that gives us elasticity when we are criticized or questioned. It’s sort of like a gauge that measures how a person feels or evaluates this concept of self-worth.
There is healthy self-esteem and unhealthy self-esteem. A healthy view of self does not mean someone is arrogant or proud. An unhealthy view may indicate self-hate or despair, however. As St. Paul says in Romans 12:3, we need to measure our sense of value and worth with honesty and fair-mindedness.
A low self-esteem can be dangerous because it leads to shame. Shame is extreme guilt. Guilt is that inner voice of the conscience that tells us, “I made a mistake.” Shame internalizes that statement to say: “I am a mistake.”
This can lead a person to unhelpful conclusions. Shame leads to feelings of self-hate, despair, lack of trust in God and others, overly competitive nature, need for constant praise and attention, and even to suicidal thoughts. Our self-esteem is in danger when we allow others to assess our value rather than listening to God’s assessment of our worth and value.
There are many Bible verses that speak to God’s assessment of our value and worth. One I like to share is as follows:
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful; I know that full well.
This passage encourages us to consider new thought patterns about how we see ourselves. It also exposes the lies that shame would have us believe. Far from being a mistake, you are wonderful to your Savior! Replace the list of lies shame tries to sell you with affirmations of value and worth spoken by your Lord.
Make a list of the positive traits, qualities, talents, or abilities which only God has given to you. Focus on that list and know that God made someone wonderful when he created you. Now, that you have a list which describes who you are in the Lord’s eyes, craft another list that speaks of whose you are!
You are loved by God. You are his child. You are the apple of his eye. You are his new creation. You have eternal value and worth to him. Who you are (a child of God) finds meaning and purpose in whose you are (dearly, loved, and cherished in Christ).
Now, that is a boost of encouragement. We are important to God. We are created and loved by him. We may not always be good at remembering those things. Now that we know them, however, we can put them into practice.
Thank you, Lord for reminding me that I am your precious child. Help me to always remember how much I mean to you. You love me with an everlasting love, and my life has value and purpose right now. I am not a mistake. I am wonderfully and fearfully made. Thank you for making me your very own in your Son, Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.