I have a confession to make.
I’m a recovering good girl. I never broke the rules, rarely stepped outside my comfort zone.
I was a good girl. I didn’t realize my “good girlness” was really my way of dealing with shame.
A crosswalk, a red hand and a big city put my battle with shame on the frontline of my life.
Here’s what I mean.
About 20 years ago, we relocated near New York City from Texas. Life got hard. Not because I’m from a small town in Oklahoma. We have crosswalks there, too.
The dilemma came when we were in NYC, and I had to decide whether or not to cross the street when the big red hand was up.
In NYC, pretty much everyone crosses the street when the hand is up.
Everyone except me.
I wouldn’t budge. Not if the BIG RED HAND OF SHAME was up.
You’re probably thinking, “Duh? You’re not supposed to cross when the hand is up.”
I get that.
You know why I call it the Big Red Hand of Shame? It was only suppose to stop me from crossing the street, but it was way more for me.
I didn’t cross the street because it was the right thing to do. I didn’t cross the street because I didn’t want anyone to see me breaking the rules.
I was a good girl. And, good girls Don’t. Break. The. Rules. Period.
I’m not encouraging jaywalking.
Too many times, I’ve let the Big Red Hand of Shame stop me for the wrong reasons.
I’m saying when I care too much about what people think, the Big Red Hand of Shame becomes my mindset.
Shame constantly reminds me of what I can’t do.
Everyone experiences shame, but on one wants to talk about it.
It doesn’t creep across your face like embarrassment. It doesn’t dig into your heart like guilt. It feeds on your mind where no one can see it.
It makes you laugh when you really want to cry.
The big red hand of shame tells me:
- I’m not smart enough.
- Thin enough.
- Pretty enough.
- My kids aren’t smart enough.
- I didn’t make the 6th grade choir.
- My family’s not good enough.
Bottom line. . . I’m not worthy enough.
And that’s what shame it. And, it’s toxic.
It makes us miserable, depressed, irritable. It steals self-esteem and self worth. It makes us feel we don’t deserve love or attention.
It affects everything. Parenting, friendships, marriage , life.
Perhaps you feel shame in your own life. Maybe you’ve done things that have instilled that feeling of “I’m not worthy.”
Maybe you’re in a troubled marriage, maybe your marriage failed, maybe you have a rebellious child, or your kid dropped out of school, maybe you were sexually or physically abused.
Maybe you had an abortion.
Maybe you had this idea of how your life should’ve turned out, and it’s just not how you’d imagined.
And, that’s when shame shows up.
It’s like indelible ink. How do you get rid of it? It’s almost impossible.
We live in an imperfect world, raised by imperfect people, surrounded by imperfect people.
Here’s the good news, if you choose to accept it: Jesus Christ.
He took my shame when He died on the cross because He knew I could never be good enough. But, like so many, I decided to keep it.
That why I love Romans 8:1: Therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
God talks about shame in His word. He knew we’d battle with it. He talks about true shame—how we should feel when we disregard God—and misplaced shame—when we feel shamed but we have no reason to.
I didn’t start feeling shame at that cross walk in NYC. It started along before that. And it ran my life until I recognized it and started replacing it with truth.
It was a journey. And, I haven’t arrived yet.
If shame’s a struggle for you, you can learn to recognize the signs and begin recovering, too. I hope you decide to take that step.
Now when I see the big red hand, I just look at it and keep on going. (When the green walk guys comes up.)
What’s your big red hand of shame? And how’s it holding you back?
Tell me about it or share a story.
Get Your Real On,