Untangling Shame and Humility
- 2017 Nov 06
I have the privilege of being tested by my own words.
Sitting here in front of the computer, tapping out a bunch of thoughts, isn’t as easy as it may sound. In addition to the brainstorming, praying, writing, re-writing, deleting whole sections, self-editing, and second-guessing, there’s the whole resiliency mixed with authenticity factor.
Do I mean what I say and am I saying what I mean?
Will I stand firm with my words and beliefs or will I let the opinions of others pluck my feet off solid ground?
I write about sometimes heart-heavy things, but please know this. I do not stand isolated on an island to say what the ocean dwellers must do. Rather, I’m right there swimming in the deep with you. Looking for Jesus’ gaze so we can walk on water again, because he calls us forth and asks our faith to remain fixed steadfast with him.
There are days when my heart shakes with the realization, even as I type, that the very words I share are the ones God is sharing with me. These moments cause me to step back in prayerful consideration. They lead me to sort through the lies which level a heart with the weight of condemnation, from the conviction of truth which begs the beginning of transformation.
Today’s choice ruffles me, because words spoken over the years have begged me to question myself in ways that are both unpleasant, but helpful. And not.
Like this weekend. I’m one of the living room session leaders at the Brave Women’s Conference for the topic, “Brave to Take Care of Your Self”. I’m in the midst of another hard leg of my life long journey and wondering “Am I taking care of my self in healthy ways?” “Am I being selfish in doing so?”
Somehow, two words got all mixed up and jumbled together. To see clearly what one means and the other does not, well, it’s taken a whole lot of heart searching and I’m still wading in the water. Maybe right next to you?
They are so very different, yet they intertwine in ways which choke. They simply must come apart if we want to live well.
Humility is not arrogant or proud. It recognizes the low position we have in relation to the almighty wonder of our Creator God. A humble heart rightly recognizes the righteousness of God and the great need of man, for God, in all the things.
Shame feels disgrace for feeling low. Shame painfully asserts that we are not who we think we ought to be.
Sometimes, this can be a good thing. When we are not acting as we ought, nor living in ways which honor God, shame reminds us we want to be something we are not yet.
Often, shame destroys our sense of self by regarding a low position as one of dishonor. In this place, we tend to get stuck.
Humility always builds up a sense of knowing our low position is honored by God. The last shall be first.
While shame tends to bring death of some kind, humility brings healing because we come to know who we really are in light of God being who He is.
Great freedom arises in this place.
Admittedly, I have a lot of work to do in these areas. Both growing in honest humility and in rejecting the destructive forms of shame and how it makes me hide.
We can begin by choosing humility. As we’ve chosen the Holy Spirit, we choose to let the Spirit prompt our heart in the areas where we can seek to accept our true position.
Our true position is identified by God and laid out many times, in many ways, throughout scripture.
Consider Romans 12: 3 (Oh, why not read all of Romans 12? Yeah, go ahead! It’s packed full of goodness.)
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of yourself than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith God has given you.
We are to think with sobriety. Not under the influence. We are not to think too highly, but also not too lowly. A sober mind thinks clearly. Rightly. We are to think honestly about who we are. The standard bearer of truth in this matter is God and his Word.
Even our shame can turn into the thing which draws us towards the heart of God if we allow humility to lead it there. As we choose to accept our position, we come to know our need more. Step by step, we can take a journey to living with greater humility every time we say like Jesus,
“Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” ~ Luke 22:42
Fore more of the 31 Choices We Can Make to Live Well series, click here.
Jolene Underwood is an emotional health warrior and soul care mentor. She provides practical and spiritual support for cultivating life within the Christian soul by drawing upon her personal journey towards emotional health, her psychology background, and a passion for Christian counseling. Jolene writes regularly at JoleneUnderwood.com. She also leads a community of writers called Rise Up Writers. Her tool, Unleash : Heart and Soul Care Sheets, has helped hundreds experience greater freedom. Connect with her online via YouTube/Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest at @theJoleneU or via the Cultivated Life Newsletter.