Forgiving Yourself and Finding Freedom From Shame
Forgiving Yourself and Embracing God’s Grace Go Hand-In-Hand
From the outside, it all looked quite picture-perfect. Handsome husband. Two beautiful toddlers. Financial stability. Active in church ministry. Always quick with a smile and an encouraging word.
And it wasn’t as if my smile was disingenuous. I treasured my husband and children. Gratitude for all of God’s blessings filled my heart. The world needs happiness and smiling is one easy way to cheer up another, so to me, wearing a smile was an easy action.
But what most people didn’t know was that on the other side of my picture-perfect, lay a curtain of shame. That shame brought tears behind closed doors and a battle with the enemy of my soul. It perpetuated the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual comparison of myself to everyone and everything around me.
“Comparison is the thief of joy” – Theodore Roosevelt
Bearing the load of shame wears us out.
The days become long and the tears many. Depression seeps into the crevices of our soul. It hides from the world but eats away at who God intends for us to be and at the freedom with which He desires us to live.
My past held much that grieved my heart. It was filled with confusion, mistakes and missteps. Then compounded by painful rejections at the hands of those I thought I could love and trust the most.
Somewhere, at some point, I locked eyes with rejection and held onto its gaze. I received it as my truth and my identity. There I remained stuck for far too long.
What is it that I am missing?
Why am I less than everyone else?
What will make me worthy of approval?
I saw the best of everyone else and the worst of myself.[bctt tweet=”Do comparisons leave you seeing the best in others and the worst in yourself? #getunstuck #somethingbetter #hope” username=”lori_schumaker”]
When I look back I am amazed at God’s hand in my life even when I didn’t understand the power of His love. He gave me wisdom, strength, courage, tenacity, discernment.
I was a survivor – surviving abortion, an abusive marriage, and a disease that nearly took my kidneys. Struggling through the financial impact of divorce and medical bills, I still flourished in a teaching career. I was tough.
I knew it wasn’t healthy to remain stuck in rejection and shame. So, I did the work by going to counseling, talking with my pastor, and reading the right books.
It helped a little. But not enough to tear away the shame wrapped tightly around me.
You see, I failed to use one of our most powerful weapons in the fight against shame —the weapon of forgiveness.
For me, it wasn’t the forgiveness of those who had sinned against me. I had crossed that bridge and felt that layer of pain and bitterness lifted. But instead, it was the forgiveness of myself.
I entertained the idea of Jesus forgiving me, but somehow I couldn’t forgive myself. I was in a self-made prison of defeat with the key to unlock the door in my hand. God’s love and grace were freely offered to me, only I wouldn’t embrace it. Instead of accepting His grace — His key to freedom and victory — I pushed Him aside and punished myself.[bctt tweet=”Can you accept God’s grace and forgive yourself? #somethingbetterseries #hope #comparisontrap #forgiveness” username=”lori_schuamaker”]
He gave me one moment where it all became too much. Every failure and rejection flooded my spirit.
He gave me one friend who spoke truth in love and followed it with a plan of action.
He gave me the space of a trusted environment. All the shame and pain that ravished my soul poured out in that space where two or more were present. With His light now illuminating the darkness, the enemy’s hiding places were revealed. Prayer moved mountains and victory was claimed.
That evening, the enemy’s perpetuated cycle stopped. I began by forgiving myself and His grace and Truth replaced shame. Rejection was given back to its rightful owners. Now, the process of denying its power over my life had begun.
It was a great big step toward my something better with Jesus.[bctt tweet=”Are you ready to begin the process of denying shame its power over your life? #forgivingyourself #hope” username=”lori_schumaker”]
Today, I choose to live out my something better in the arms of God’s love and grace. I still have that handsome husband. Those toddlers are teenagers and our third treasure is a not far behind them. And I still have my smile — even on the hard days.
The difference is that now the curtain of shame is torn away. Life still gets hard. Hearts break and relationships disappoint. But with the shame erased, comparison doesn’t control me.
Satan still attempts to lure me with the familiar habits of my past. He hits where he knows the weakness lay. So, when I step out into the brave, I hear the whispers of comparison in my mind. Sometimes I even entertain them a moment longer than I should.
He taught me to accept His grace and forgive myself. He taught me to speak His truth because it reigns over all other words ever spoken.
To help you learn to speak God’s Word over your life, I wrote the below 5 statements directly from Scripture. I noted the Scripture references within each statement. So, if you are in a place of struggling to forgive yourself — struggling to embrace the love and grace of Christ in your life, will you speak these declarations of Truth over your life? Will you speak it when the enemy prowls and forgiving yourself isn’t easy?
I am thankful to be a cracked and broken vessel giving a pathway through which Your power and beauty can shine. (2 Cor 4:7)
My weaknesses are proof of your strength. (2 Cor 12:9)
I do not live to compare myself to another because then I will only be tossed into confusion (2 Cor 10:12) But instead, I strive to be an imitator of You, Lord (1 Cor 11:1, seeking only Your approval (Galatians 1:10)
You call me wonderful and marvelous. (Psalm 139:13-14)
I have no need for fear. (2 Timothy 1:7)[bctt tweet=”Speak these 5 Declarations of Truth over your life and begin to embrace the love and grace of God’s forgiveness #forgivingyourself #hope” username=”lori_schumaker”]
The Something Better Series brings the stories of strong courageous women who have stepped out of pain and into their something better. Read those stories here.[bctt tweet=”Join us for stories of courageous women who have stepped out of the pain of dysfunction! #somethingbetter #hope #series #gettingunstuck” username=”lori_schumaker”]
They are everyday women just like you and me. Somewhere inside they knew there was more to them than the enemy wanted them to believe. So they put one foot in front of the other. Grabbed onto the hand of Jesus, and with Him began walking toward their something better.
I pray their stories encourage and inspire you to believe that you, too, have a something better and it is within your reach. That a something better is possible for every single one of us.
For I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength. -Philippians 4:13 NLT[bctt tweet=”A life of #somethingbetter is possible for every single one of us! #getunstuck #hope #series” username=”lori_schumaker”]
Want to catch up and read posts you may have missed in this series?
1 – What Does Your Something Better Look Like?
2 – How to Get Unstuck with Grace and Patience
3 – Leaving the Lies of Shame Behind
4 – When Your Something Better Is the Thing You Fear the Most
5 – Choosing Joy When Everything Falls Apart
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Through our adoption journey, God brilliantly showed us the power of living surrendered. We discovered the peace that comes when we walk in God’s will and trust wherever He takes us. Finding that doesn’t usually come along golden paved roads, though. It comes along the broken ones.[bctt tweet=”Read our story of hope – our story of learning to surrender … because we all need the help in letting go of what isn’t ours to hold. #surrenderedheartsbook #hope ” username=”lori_schumaker”]
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Love your post, Lori. I am working through some of this myself. Jan Silvious pointed out once that the Bible does not tell us we must forgive ourselves – instead we are to accept the forgiveness from God that has already been given. Easier said than done, but her words opened my thinking that I really did not have to forgive myself. I needed to extend self- compassion ( grace) to myself instead of self- condemnation (shame). We are all on a journey and thankfully we are not alone. Visiting from Susie Ellers link up! xo
That is a unique perspective of the issue of forgiveness and sin! I’m going to look into some of her work. I will be praying for you as you continue to work through these issues. Thank you so much for sharing here and joining the conversation. I appreciate you!
Blessings and smiles,
Such a great post, Lori! That comparison trap can really get us down. We must remember that God has given each of us talents and jobs to do and there is room for all. I recently shared a post about comparison being a trap. I think it goes right along with your thoughts. http://www.gaylswright.com/2016/06/18/comparison-is-nothing-but-a-trap/
I loved your post! You nailed it! We are each so uniquely created with our own set of gifts. There is no need for comparison! Thank you so much for visiting and joining the conversation!
Blessings and smiles,
“Something better…” Yes! I have beat myself over the head for so much of my life for so many reason. I don’t want to but I do. You have reminded me that I am not my own but I am Jesus’ and He wants me whole. I have just written about “A Whole Heart.” I know! I desire! I am His and He loves me unconditionally. Praising Him. Thank you for these words. I want to read the series. Thanks.
Thank you, Linda, for your kind words and a little glimpse into your own story. I’ll be praying … for the enemy to be stopped … the beating over the head to stop … and grace to be received. He does love you unconditionally and offers endless amounts of grace, my friend. I’m so glad you stopped by today ♥
Lori, This really spoke to my heart! Thank you for pouring yourself out. I think we each have things for which we need to forgive ourselves. Like you, I’m much better but the enemy loves to dredge up the past and bring up the guilt. Thankfully they are shorter lived than they used to be. Walking in His freedom is so much better! There is joy and hope in Him! This is so good!!
Amen for shorter lived moments of guilt, Deb! I am so thankful to have climbed out of that well of shame. What a different way in which I see the world and live my life now! Thank you for always being such a treasured encourager.
There is so much of this post and your words that resonate with me. I understand very well the prison of not forgiving ourselves and holding on to the burden of unforgiveness. A long time ago, I was where you were and with the help of many and the Lord, I unlocked the prison door and was free. Wonderful and inspiring! Thanks for sharing with us at Party at My Place. Blessings!
I am praising God for that unlocked prison door! Today I see the Grammie you are and the blessing to so many through your blog and am deeply inspired! Thank you so much!!
Blessings and smiles,
Thank you for this brave sharing. Two things stand out to me:
1.Locking your eyes with the issue – so often I avert my eyes from the things in my life that I don’t want to deal with.
2. Trusting Jesus for something better – This can be such a scarey thing that some of us stay in our desert place where we’ve been so long – just because we’ve forgotten how wonderful water is!
Lori, I know that God is going to use your story.
I love that imagery! The desert and the water. And yes, we do forget how wonderful the water is! Thank you so much for your encouragement!
Blessings and smiles,
A beautiful testimony, Lori. While I would love to have a perfect life, I know with it, I would not need Jesus. Yes, life is messy and hard at times, but there is always Jesus standing beside us through it all. Thank you for sharing with Thankful Thursdays.
Yes! The need for Jesus and trials all come hand in hand, don’t they! Thank you so much for visiting, Lori, and for hosting Thankful Thursdays!
Blessings and smiles,
What a great post, Lori!
Thank you for sharing your hurt, your struggles, and your victories!
God is good.
And, you are a blessing~
Thank you so much, Mel. Yes, God is good! So glad He gave me you to call friend!
Blessings and smiles,
I use love hearing hi the Lord has worked in and changed hearts. Truly matzoh. Thank you for being brave and sharing!!
Lori- I loved your post! It really touched my heart and tears were welling up.
I’m so glad you have shared this with us. I know God will bless this authenticity and bravery. I pray for your healing in all areas!
Thank you for sharing, Lori! I understand what you are talking about. I get it! And maybe a different explanation is needed for those who say that forgiving oneself isn’t Biblical…what that looks like is releasing what we are holding ourselves to, our past mistakes, nailing it to the Cross, leaving it with Jesus. Let’s not get caught up in terminology, hey? There are many phrases we use that are not in the Bible, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t true. Forgiving yourself means accepting the forgiveness of Christ. Embracing it fully and completely.
Love you sister and I keep praying for you every day!
Thanks for linking up with Grace and Truth.
This is a great post, we often thin some women have have it and they really have the same battles.
So, so, SO true, Becky! Our church is doing a series called “Picture Perfect”. The outside conveys a different message that the truth on the inside ♥ Blessings to you, friend!
I so needed this reminder, Lori. I still sometimes get caught up in thinking the best of others but the worst of myself. Though my story is different than yours, I still often struggle with that shame. And yes, Satan plays on our vulnerabilities. Thank you for reminding me of these Truth declarations. Love and blessings to you!
Hi Trudy! I am so thankful these words encouraged you. The enemy knows our weak spots and targets them – reminders are good. I need them often, too!!! Much love,