By Hazel Holland
"Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame" (Psalm 34:5).
This is the first time in my life that I have ever tried to seriously do a self-portrait. I have always found faces hard to draw and paint, and never thought they would come out looking like anything close to the original. But after my friend, Leila, did a photo shoot of me several days ago I was impressed that God wanted me to paint a watercolor of myself being released from shame!
As we were looking at the hundreds of pictures she had taken for the photo shoot I became aware that I had acted goofy in so many of them in an attempt to cover-up my embarrassment of having the focus of attention on myself. I hammed it up because I was having pictures taken on a bad hair day. I was sure that the angles that were used to take some of the pictures would make me look like I have a double chin…and they did. The close shots at times accentuated the flaws in my skin, hair and body. They were not pretty to see. Many of the pictures were not perfect because I am not perfect.
But more importantly, I found that Leila was trying to give me a "loving perspective" of myself through these photos. She wanted me to be able to see myself with humor, and in light of how God sees me. She succeeded in her task.
God sees me freed from shame. That is why I chose to call this watercolor painting, “No More Shame”, because by naming this emotion I am now publicly acknowledging that I have power over its destructive patterns in my life in Jesus’ name.
Shame in and of itself is a normal human emotion, because it shows us that we are human and have limitations. It tells us that we make mistakes, that we are not perfect, and that we need help. Healthy shame tells us that we are not God.
But when shame as a normal human emotion is transformed into shame as a state of our being, then shame becomes our identity. Now we believe our true self is flawed and defective, resulting in toxic shame that always necessitates a cover-up—a false self that is neither flawed nor defective!
As a result of growing up in a very dysfunctional and abusive home, I believed that I was damaged goods from an early age, and so I unknowingly began the process of trying to cover up the many faces of toxic shame… My worth was measured by what I did or did not do—not by what was inside of me. I believed I was a “human doing” rather than a human being. Although it has taken many years to free myself of this menacing enemy, I am now learning to reduce toxic shame by transforming it back into healthy shame.
I do this my admitting that I am not perfect, and that I make mistakes. I do this by setting up healthy boundaries that reflect my human need to love others, and be loved by others in healthy ways. Overwhelming feelings of hopelessness that use to be a part of my life are now a thing of the past.
I have hope and assurance of who I am in Jesus Christ. I know He is able to use my God-given authentic true self as a witness of His healing power and transforming love. He has indeed freed me from the toxic shame that use to bind me! Let us celebrate the truth that He has taken away our shame!