Shame Off You is written by Alan Wright, the pastor of church I was a member. I also had the privilege of leading a 4-week follow up class for Pastor Alan after he held a conference at his church, Reynolda. I say this as a disclaimer, but it is a very good book and worthy of your time. Shame is an important topic that often goes ignored and therefore many people are hindered in their walks with God as shame goes unaddressed. Shame will keep you from approaching God with your requests and keep you from living out who God has called you to be. Here are some thoughts from the book that I hope would encourage you to take the time to read it.
- The world is filled with people under the weight of shame. Knowing you have to measure up in order to feel acceptable while knowing that you can’t quite measure up leaves you with a gnawing anxiety that wreaks havoc in your soul. We might recognize them as lies, but since the shame feels true, we live out of them. Other people also put shame on us. It is a common motivator in today’s world, and while it can get us to try harder, it never sets us free.
- No matter what degree of shame you have experienced, you have a chance to let go of judgment, bitterness, and unforgiveness. Healing comes not just from the acknowledgment of the pain, but the forgiveness you choose to give. Forgiving does not mean denying or excusing the shame you suffered, but rather it means letting go of its hold on your heart. The issue is never the capacity to forgive, but whether you desire to forgive.
- God never uses shame to motivate us toward right living or excellence. He never motivates us by withholding His love from us.
- One of shame’s greatest goals is to get you hiding from God. Fear of exposure leads us into hiding. In a shame‐free relationship, every ounce of Adam and Eve’s relationship went to exploring their future rather than covering their tracks. The humiliation and guilt of shame erode our self‐esteem and breeds deviousness and manipulation as a means of not letting our true selves to be exposed. Shame can only be healed once it is exposed.Doesn’t God already know us completely? Why then do we hide? We are afraid that he might expose us and shame us some more. We are afraid He may confirm our fears of rejection and unloveliness. God is not hiding from us; He wants to be known. He wants to heal us so we can experience the abundant life He is offering.
- God’s answer for our shame is not personal success nor God’s pledge to take away our pain. God’s answer is, and always has been, to be with us in our pain, to bear our shame, and nourish us for the journey ahead. We do not overcome shame by focusing on our success. The effort to hide the truth of our inadequacies through the façade of success builds more walls around our hearts. Shame is overcome by walking with God.
- Christians don’t substitute idols for God; they add idols in addition to Him. We raise up idols in our lives to salve the wounds of our past. Something happens to us and we make a commitment never to be hurt like that again, so we establish an idol to protect us from that pain. Ultimately the idol doesn’t give you peace, instead it gives you constant pressure to always please it. When we don’t perform well enough for our idols, it mocks us and sends us back to even deeper shame.
If you want to lead a class at your church based on this book, here are my handouts for Shame Off You Follow Up Class (PDF).
I also led a small group through the principles of this book. We were primarily focused on as parents how do we keep shame off our kids, but one major point is shamed people shame… wounded people wound. You are welcome to the Shame Off You Bible Study (PDF), just know that some of it will ask parenting questions. The small group focused on the following concepts.
Chapter 1: The Power of Words
Chapter 2: The Power of Marriage
Chapter 3: The Power of Forgiveness
Chapter 4: The Power of Confession
Chapter 5a: The Power of God’s Voice
Chapter 5b: The Power of Celebration
Chapter 6: The Power of Mom and Dad
Chapter 7: The Power of Boundaries
Chapter 8: The Power of Walking With Jesus
Chapter 9: How to Change Others
Chapter 10: How the Church Tries to Change You
Chapter 11: How the Gospel Tries to Change You
Chapter 12: How Idols Keep You from Real Change
I will strongly encourage you getting this book. It would be a great start experiencing more of the grace of Christ in your life.