Recently, one of the guys who attends a men’s support group that I lead was sharing about his week in the group and began to talk about the power of shame. But he didn’t stop there. He also shared about a power even greater that has the ability to transform: honor. I’m thankful that he was gracious enough to share these thoughts me in article form and gave me permission to share them with you. Thanks Daryl!
If you have struggled with a sexual addiction or brokenness, chances are high that you have also struggled with shame. Shame is that deep down belief that you are inadequate, insignificant, or defective. It’s a core belief of who you are based upon the things you have done or perhaps not done. And while shame can shape our lives, it never shapes it for the good.
I grew up with a heavy sense of shame and by the time I hit 20 years old I so identified with shame that I told others that shame was my middle name. How is that for assuming an identity of shame? So, when it comes to shame, and recognizing it as the primary tool the enemy uses in my life to take me down, I have learned a thing or two.
But shame is not the victor, because shame is a lie. We are not inadequate, insignificant or defective. The challenge is overcoming those feelings and not sinking into an identity of shame. And the pathway to overcoming shame is knowing the truth. Oh, so much easier said than done!
As someone who loves working with words, I often seek to understand what words that we often take for granted actually mean. And sometimes the best way for me to do that is to understand the opposite of a particular word. So, for example, the opposite of fear is faith. The opposite of confusion is clarity. The opposite of judgment is grace. You get the idea.
So, when it comes to shame, I was challenged to identify its opposite. But it is crystal clear. The opposite of shame is honor. Honor is not a word that we walk around using as being one of our core needs or desires, but it is. We want to experience honor from our peers, our colleagues, our wife, our kids, our community, and so on. Another word for honor is respect. It’s the belief that we have value.
The challenge is, we cannot just conjure up honor. It comes from our relationships. Are we honored among men? By our wives? By our children? By God?
The truth is, whether or not we are honored by others, we are honored by God. I love what Psalm 18:35 says. “You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great.” Your help has made me great! Wow! Other translations say: “You stooped down to make me great.” That does not mean that God places us above himself. But he does honor us. In other words, he highly values us. He views us as incredibly priceless, significant, and worth taking whatever steps are necessary to be reconnected with us.
Psalm 62:7 says “My salvation and my honor depend upon God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge.” When Jesus died on the cross, he did not just die to take away my sin, he also died to take away my shame. He did that by demonstrating that my life was so valuable that he was willing to come and die and pay my penalty so that he and I could experience relationship with each other, without anything being in the way. What incredible honor he has given us.
God did not look down on earth and pity our disgusting lives—labeling us with shame. He looked down and because of the value he places on our lives, did everything possible to demonstrate how valuable we are to him. He established that we are honorable enough for him to die for us so that we might be reconciled to him.
When we live in shame, we lose sight of the honor and value God has placed upon us. Not because we are in and of ourselves great. But because he has established us in his sight as great…honored.
Does shame consume you? Are you overwhelmed by the weight of shame? Fight that lie with the truth of honor. As wretched as we all are in our own brokenness, and whatever the shame we may face, his heart toward us is one of honor.
RELATED: 023: Goodbye Shame, Hello Honor