My heart goes out to anyone living in relationship with someone who is carrying a load of guilt and shame. It is a heavy load that weighs people down. Sometimes it is loaded on because of the sin against us by someone else and we carry the offense. Other times it comes from our own sinful condition or our perception of the situation we’re in. There can be many reasons for it.
For people in this struggle, self-protection can grow into an obsession. It takes precedence over everything, and relationships suffer greatly.
If you live with, or interact closely with someone living with guilt and shame you can understand how difficult it is to interact with them. Normal questions and conversations are virtually impossible. A defensive posture is the norm — the inability to express to them a complete thought without interruption, accusation, anger, or disrespect is commonplace.
Understand that the conflict someone with guilt feels is great because the person wanting to help them is usually someone who offers love to them and has already demonstrated much care for them; therefore they are conflicted between a sense of duty to respond rightly versus self-protection. This brings confusion in because one day things can go seemingly well and the next very badly. It’s understandable why many give up in attempting loving confrontation. It is often because of our own failure to consistently love or the abusive responses becoming to painful to bear, or both.
A Biblical Solution to Shame
So what is the solution for someone who lives with shame? coming to the realization that no matter what garbage may be stored inside, God loves you anyway and has a solution.
- Romans 5:8 (NASB) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
- Titus 3:4 (NASB) But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared…
He is the only one who can look beyond the pile of your past and clean it out, but you have to release the past to Him first of all. Surrender! Give it up. Turn it over to Jesus; He endured great shame on the cross for all of us. It will require humility, but once you get there, the freedom far out ways the continuation of carrying this load and the abusive pain you inflict upon those around you.
Do you desire to love someone beyond yourself? You really don’t have the ability to do this within yourself. But if you allow Jesus to cleanse you, He will give you the power to overcome your past and self-loathing. It requires confession of those things you have piled up inside, bring it to the light, give everything over to God and allow Him to carry you through into a new free life.
The cycle of shame involves lying, lying involves guilt, and guilt leads back to shame. Until you decide to lay this down at the foot of the Cross of Christ, the sin of self-protection and it’s walls will isolate you. There is always the possibility of being wronged — we live in a painful, sin-filled world. But there is freedom that Jesus offers to us that enables us to walk in His strength allowing us to put off self-protection and instead receive God-protection. God-protection doesn’t keep us from pain or hurtful situations; rather He walks through these often traumatic places with us. He holds our hand through the though places. His goal is to grow us into His likeness in the midst of this sinful world.
The Response of a Helper
Someone living with guilt and shame uses sinful methods to deal with those around them. Control through manipulation, lying, and walls of self-protection are common. Your questions will evoke anger. Often a spouse, parent, or sibling, unknowingly conforms to and goes along with the destructive behavior out of fear and becomes an unknowing accomplice. The vortex of confusion or “crazy” is doing its work and it becomes almost impossible to see clearly any longer, much less face the daunting task of confronting someone in love.
Further, we must recognize the spiritual warfare involved. II Cor 10:3-5 says, “For though we walk in the flesh [as mortal men], we are not carrying on our [spiritual] warfare according to the flesh and using the weapons of man. The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ.” (Amplified) The battle is big, dissecting it is impossible, but the answer is God and His Word.
If you are the receiver of this type of behavior, please do not become a victim and cower under the dominance and control of another. If you do, you’re not helping them and you really become part of the problem. Telling them the truth in love is what they really need. Biblical confrontation is for their good. Not in order to show you are right about something, but to lovingly present God’s word of truth to them. Setting healthy boundaries is important. If they claim to know God, you may need to appeal to your pastor for help in confronting.
God can deliver anyone who repents and is humbly willing to receive help. It often takes outside, objective helpers to bring things back into alignment. Seek help from a pastor or a biblical counselor who understands that only forgiveness from God and the indwelling Holy Spirit can deliver from guilt and shame.
Remember, God cares about each of you in the relationship. He desires to help anyone who wants help. Humility, followed by surrender and acknowledgement of sin is the way out.
Ephesians 4:15 (ESV) Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
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