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Shame was never part of God’s plan for humanity, and it is still not His plan for us. Adam and Eve walked together in harmony with God and it says in Genesis 2:15 (NIV) Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
It wasn’t until they sinned against God that they became aware of their nakedness and became ashamed.
Genesis 3: 8-10 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
It was this event where shame entered and we just cannot seem to escape it, can we?
Similar to a child, or a butt naked toddler running around the house squealing with joy, when we are born, we are completely unashamed of our nakedness, secure in ourselves, and fully trusting. It is this type of innocence that God desired for us to have with Him. Vulnerable, with nothing hidden, and doing it with joy.
Nakedness, which in the beginning was man’s original state, became perverted and twisted by Satan’s deception.
How do we view physical nakedness today?
Satan took what was beautiful, perfected and pure, and turned it against Adam and Eve making them despise their own existence and hide from the creator.
The same begins in childhood where we are born into this world unashamed, and then the deceptions, the brokenness of those around us who also fell victim to shame, knock us down. It’s sad, but completely unavoidable in life.
It is possible to get through life without the shame of the world crippling you, but for some, myself included, shame can become so internalized , it becomes our identity and that is when the self-destructive behaviors begin.
Internalized shame is when you don’t just feel shame you become shame.
So the question to ask ourselves is where did shame begin in your life? We will get into greater detail on this topic, but for now, lets just skim through.
1.Shame based parents If you were raised by one or two parents who are also shame based, you become raised by shame, and adopt the attitudes, mindsets and personalities of shame. We can’t turn our shame into blame, like Adam and Eve did, but its important to empathize with our parents.
How can parents who don’t love themselves model how to love oneself to their child?
Would you say that one or both of your parents had their own internalized shame?
2. Lack of Time, Discipline and Attention It feels that with 5 children there is never enough time to make sure every child gets the right amount of time and attention, so this point really bumped that priority for me. When a child grows in a home where there is neglect in this area, they grow to believe that they are not valuable enough to be loved. Lack of time tells the child that they are least important, lack of attention makes the child feel invisible, maybe even unwanted, and lack of discipline can actually tell the child that they are a lost cause.
How much time, attention and discipline did you receive as a child?
As a parent is there a way you can make this a bigger priority in your home?
3. Abuse – This is an obvious example, and a devastating one. Abuse can include, physical, emotional, spiritual, sexual, even inappropriate knowledge on adult things at a young age.
When a stronger adult, or teen asserts dominance and power over a child and harms them, this not only damages a child’s self-worth but breaks it completely. It’s such a great evil that no child should have to endure, but it does happen and God can restore even the deepest pain.
What child or adult abuse have you been victim to in your life?
How did that abuse affect what you thought of yourself?
4. Sin – Our mistakes and choices can lead to internalized shame, just like Adam and Eve’s choice did. We can make a lot of mistakes in our lives and that can build a pretty strong case against our self-worth.
What sins in your life have affected your self-worth?
5. Family Secrets – Being asked to never speak of grandpa’s drinking, or aunt Martha’s numerous affairs can bring shame to the child, even if they personally have nothing to hide. This type of family secrecy can instil in a child that our imperfections and mistakes must be hidden and never brought to life.
Has there been any family secrets in your life?
6. Broken Trust – Your mother constantly let you down, your parent’s divorce, a friend back-stabbed you. When we put our full trust into someone and they break that trust we can internalize the lie that no one is trustworthy and we must guard ourselves at all times.
Who broke your trust?
7. Abandonment – When a child is thrown away without a thought, or even as an adult you are left at the altar or abandoned with small children like I was. A very deep, deep pain of abandonment seeps in and begins to define who we are.
What are the main lies abandonment will enforce in a child or person?
What lies did your abandonment place in you?
Can you add to this list of other foundations of shame?
I am sure some of these questions were not easy to answer, some gave me twinge for sure. Acknowledgement that you were never born or created to feel the way you do about yourself, can, I hope, make you search for your true identity. Something we will get to shortly.
What you shameless is supposed to look like.
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