I have long been fascinated by the subject of shame and for a while I have nursed the ambition to write about it in the hope that I could help at least one soul. This post isn't meant to be an exhaustive interrogation of the topic since there is a treasure trove of writings on the subject. But, I am hopeful it will assist a few to free themselves from the stranglehold of a condition that has blighted many lives.
Life is replete with misery. One of its most common afflictions is shame: when the wonder of being alive is replaced by soul-crushing despair. As if twins, guilt is often confused with shame. But, these entities are distinct. Guilt, or remorse, is a healthy recognition that we've done something wrong, and is essential for repentance. Shame on the other hand is a spiritual derangement and a vivisection of one's self. With shame "bad behavior is NOT distinguished from bad self."
But, shame is not from God. It is the work of the prince of darkness: the irreconcilable enemy of man-the devil. He regards the telestial turf as entirely is own. The war which he waged against us in heaven has been transferred to the earth. Shame is his great lie against the sons and daughters of God. His chief pleasure is to darken our lives-barring us from the divine promise of peace and freedom. Shame is his venom not only to blind us to our true identity but to also deny us of our divine and limitless potential.
What are the causes of shame?
The school ground shrieks of derision are often our first exposure to this nefarious malady. The agonies of the school bully fall on the vulnerable with victims shamed for differences such as physical handicaps, weight, and even race. Bullying fellow pupils because of sexual orientation has sent teen suicides rocketing. Shame is also contagious, with children suffering all-consuming dishoner because of parental weaknesses.
Shame isn't exclusive to the youth. The scourge of gay bashing and rape has destroyed many lives. AIDS has driven many into the darkest corners of isolation. Shame on account of bad behavior has led many adults to extreme remorse. Revelations of disgraceful conduct, a most common phenomenon of our times, is the bane of many a public figure. Shame is not static but a progressive state of decay. The suffering is often prolonged and often intense, with the victims stoutly refusing to forgive themselves: believing they have irrevocably plumbed the depths of vileness. Without help, they sink into depression.
What are the manifestations of shame?
The most remarkable example of the expression of shame is found in the Book of Genesis 3: 7-10.
7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
8 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?"
10 He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so, I hid."
Adam, now aware of his nakedness was stricken with shame, and so he "hid." Self-imprisonment is a frequent display of shame. A wall forms between the sufferer and the rest of society. The victims have damaging image of who they are. Shame is also characteristically accompanied by fear. There is a frustrating fear to love, fear to engage and a pathological fear to fail.
They resist trying because their self-belief has been crushed. When they attempt anything, they have an overwhelming expectation of failure. Because of low self-worth, they often allow others to trample over them. They feel deserving of the "punishment" meted out to them. Shame makes them believe they are unlovable-even by God. They hide away from those who seek to love them and thus deny themselves of the divine balm of human kindness.
How does one overcome shame?
For this I have generously cited scriptures since they "offer us so many doctrinal diamonds. And when the light of the spirit plays upon their several facets, they sparkle with celestial sense and illuminate the path we are to follow." (According to the Desire of Our Hearts-Neal A. Maxwell.)
"… by His stripes we are healed." Isaiah 53: 5 is the most compelling statement that "all is well" and that we must come out from "behind the tree" for our nakedness has been covered and our sins forgiven. Atonement is the balm of all balms and "the doctrine for all seasons."
The scriptures are replete with healing verses that release us from the kernel of shame. "Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows …" (Isaiah 53: 4), "… the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him" (Isaiah 53: 5), "You will forget the shame of your youth … for the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer. " This theme is echoed in the New Testament: "… and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world." John 2: 2. "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us …" (Galatians 3:13). "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." John 3:16.
Atonement is "the most significant event in the history of man." It needs to be studied and internalized. The love that God has for us and the sacrifice He offered for our sins is beyond all human comprehension. Much as shame is the most powerful tool in the devil's deadly arsenal, Atonement is infinitely mightier. It is an impenetrable barrier against the volley of darts that the devil flings at us.
Things to remember
Pivotal to our healing is letting go of shame. There must be a relentless desire to let it go. Some people love draping themselves in a garment of shame. They live, play and sleep in it even though it denies them the joy of living. But, to continue caressing our guilt is a damnable sin for the "Atonement of Jesus Christ cost the blood and life and indescribable suffering of a God." -The Infinite Atonement-Tad Callister. We must therefore believe that God has woven a holy garment for our nakedness. There is no need for the coarse cover of fig trees, which our father Adam shielded himself with in the hallowed garden of Eden.
Our cleansing is predicated on repentance. Desertion from sin is not a trifling change of the mind, but comes from a contrite and sorrowful heart that no longer has any desire to sin. It is a real longing for God, an overpowering craving to do good, and an unremitting effort to cast away all unrighteousness.
"But to take full advantage of the Atonement and obtain forgiveness of those sins, we do have to do some very basic things. We do owe something for this gift. We must have faith in Christ and believe in His redeeming power. We must be honest about our mistakes-confront them, confess them, truly regret them and forsake them. Then we must vow honestly to live as much like Christ as we possibly can, including following Him in the saving ordinance of the gospel. " (To my friends-Jeffrey R. Holland)
We should also immerse ourselves in the word of God. This entails careful study and deep reflection on the word. This is an injunction from the Lord. As we ponder His holy verses we hear His voice and get to know His will. As we come to know Christ better we get to understand how good and loving He is. Our faith in Him invariably grows and so does our desire to follow Him. There is power in the scriptures that stir, heal and transform. They are "like packets of light that illuminate our minds and give place to guidance and inspiration from on high." Richard G. Scott.
We also should pray fervently and without ceasing. Heaven and earth belong to God, and those who seek His blessings and power must first ask Him- through prayer. One of the few documented requests the disciples made to Christ while He walked the earth, was for Him to teach them how to pray. What prompted this request? Perhaps the apostles recognized the excellent tool effective prayer was for lifting the darkness, for relieving the burdens that weigh us down, for parrying the pitchforks of the devil and for quelling the flames of wickedness that rage about us.
We need to find ourselves nourishing relationships and protect ourselves from the world's condemnation. We need to find company where we are consoled rather than judged. We can achieve this in our families or by finding a community of worshipers. "Men may seek God alone. They must worship him in common." The company of fellow disciples summons a direct daily experience of God. There is a divine power within the assemblies of God's people that tenderly touches one's heart and drenches one in love. The fellowship of true friends who can hear you out, share your joys, help carry your burdens, and correctly counsel you is priceless.
For one who has been in the prison of depression, the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith have a special meaning: "How sweet the voice of a friend is; one token of friendship from any source whatever awakens and calls into action every sympathetic feeling. " (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938, p. 134.) "- Ezra T. Benson.
A vista of joy opens up in our lives when we stretch our souls in the humble service of others. There is an elevation that comes when we are willing instruments and willing servants in the vineyard of our Lord. Dedicating ourselves to service and pressing "on in noble endeavors, even while surrounded by a cloud of depression will eventually bring you out on into the sunshine." (President Ezra Taft Benson) When we bear each other's burdens humbly and in love, our lives are filled with purpose, and the glow of Christ in us shines even brighter
Also pray "with all the energy of heart 'for the bestowal of the gift of Charity. The pure love of Christ is" most desirable above all things (1 NephI). It is a cure for the afflicted. It changes us. It transforms our very nature. It is the peace that fills the heart of all those who are the true followers of Christ. "… it heals us from the emotional and other wounds created by the buffetings we experience in this lone and dreary world-wounds such as insecurity and jealousy, resentment and fear, a propensity for anger and an unforgiving heart." – If Life were Easy it wouldn't be Hard: Sheri Drew
Strive to live a life of gratitude. We must never forget the beautiful things that we have been blessed with. Count your blessing and always remember to be grateful for the many miracles in our lives. We were once dead in our transgressions as we followed the ways of the world, dazzled by its gaiety and blinded by its glittering idols. But, the Lord found us, plucked us from darkness, clothed us with a clean robe, and filled our souls with peace. We should thank the Lord always for His immeasurable love.
It's also important to remember that we are all imperfect beings. Life is a narrative of fallen spirits. Our mission on this earth is probationary-designed to change us and make us wise. The scriptures reveal the shortcomings of the most extraordinary servants of our Lord. Peter, the chief disciple of Jesus, beloved by believers and chosen to be a special witness to Christ, denied the savior not once, but thrice. The apostle Paul, a man of commanding gifts and the author of thirteen of the New Testament epistles, was once an implacable enemy of Christ.
Impelled by high, if not faulty, doctrinal ambitions he persecuted the followers of Jesus "to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison …" In his book: To my friends-Jeffrey R. Holland, Elder Holland reminds us of the transgressions of Alma. "He had made serious mistakes, more serious perhaps than we know. He is described as" a very wicked and an idolatrous man, "one who sought to" destroy the church "and who delighted in rebelling against God. He was, in short , "the very vilest of sinners."
The strongest denunciation came from his own lips when he said to his son Helaman, "I had rebelled against my God … I had murdered many of his children, or rather led them away unto destruction; … so great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror. "
Thus, no life is perfect: even that of the greatest of saints. But, from the outset the Lord knew of our predisposition and susceptibility to do evil. He committed to deliver us from this deplorable state through His Son. We, therefore, need (another deep craving-and not just a fleeting feeling) to be forgiving of ourselves. What we insistently desire is what we will ultimately achieve, "for God granteth unto men according to their desire …" (D&C 137: 9).
We live in a world that is falling apart and where men's hearts are failing them. As some lie entangled in the mire, broken and overwhelmed by shame, the question to ask is which road will you take. Are you going to be spiritually hardened, embittered and fall away from God? Or, will you humble yourselves and earnestly petition heaven for guidance and strength? I pray you sincerely submit yourself to Christ. He is the supreme architect who re-designs, repairs and restores broken lives. He is the sovereign patriarch who builds new and majestic walls from the rubble of our past.
The race of life is not to the proud nor the battle to the wicked and cunning, nor glory to the "crafty serpent" but to the meek and faithful. Thus, I implore you to turn your heart to Christ and live. As long we are bonded to the Savior, "the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong firm and steadfast. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen "(1 Peter 5:! 0).
1. Overcoming Feelings of Inadequacy: Elder David S. Baxter (of the Seventy).
2. Infinite Atonement: Tad Callister
3. Adversity: President Dallin H. Oaks.
4. Its Service, Not Status, That Counts: Elder Neal A. Maxwell.
5. How to Improve Even When We've Failed Before: Elder Jeffrey Holland (from the book "To My Friends").
6. "An High Priest of Good Things to Come": Elder Jeffrey Holland.
7. Do Not Despair: President Ezra Taft Benson.
8. Lessons from Liberty Jail: Elder Jeffrey Holland.
9. The Gift of Repentance: President Thomas S. Monson.
10. Which Road Will You Travel? President Thomas S. Monson.
11. It is Possible to Change, Really Change (from the book "If Life were Easy it wouldn't be Hard" -Sister Sheri Dew).[ad_2]
Source by Mtutuzeli Nyoka