Christian Shame Cycle
In the last post, I introduced you to something I call the Christian Shame Cycle. That is, maybe you came to Christ because someone told you that you were bad (which is different than fallen or imperfect) and just maybe, that has never left your mind.
When I grew up, our youth leaders spent every major event telling us how broken we were even though we were already saved. That led to almost all of us “rededicating” our lives on a regular basis and for me, it lead to a constant feeling of failure.
The problem with leading people to Christ in a “you are so bad” kinda way is that Christ did not come to condemn and shame us in fact, he came to give us freedom.
Also, when you’re told “you are bad” on a regular basis, it gets into your head and gets you to a place where you feel unworthy of the love Christ died for you to have. That is not to say we are not sinners, we are but we are in need of redemption not condemnation.
So, let’s say you’re an adult and you grew up shamed and guilted every single time you went to church. How do you break this cycle of shame?
Well, I’m glad you asked.
3 Ways to Break the Christian Shame Cycle
- Stop the Negative Self Talk: Replace the “I am bad” with “Man, well, that might have been a bad decision. I’m going to take it before the Lord.” Should we repent? Absolutely. But, being a fallen human being that does make bad choices is different from being a “bad” human being that can never do anything right. We don’t want to get into the ditch on this issue, so retrain how to talk to yourself and focus on the behavior not cutting yourself down.
- Fill Your Mind with the Word of God: For the last million years it seems, I have told people to put Bible verses on 3×5 cards and put them throughout their house. When you feel yourself getting down on yourself, read the Word of God out loud. The out loud part matters, let your spirit hear the Word of God. Saying things such as, “I have the abundance of grace and righteousness Christ died for me to have” (Romans 5:17) helps change your mindset from shame to grace.
- Study Who Christ Says You Are: It’s easy for people to tell you you’re a horrible person when you don’t know who Christ says you are. Understanding that you are a child of God (Galatians 3:26) and you are blessed (Eph. 1:3) and you are loved (Gal. 2:20) will help you establish a firm foundation of the love Christ has for you and that you are worthy of that love. Take the time to google some verses and research what Christ really says about you rather than what you might have heard growing up.
I’m speaking somewhat casually about this topic but I do want to recognize that some of you where “spiritually abused.” That’s a real thing.
Sometimes people do use the Word of God and their own position of authority to inflict abuse and distort what God really says about you and the love Christ has for you.
If that is your experience, I would like to encourage you to seek help and talk to someone about your experience and perhaps get a mentor or counselor that can help you really look into the Word of God in the way it was intended and not through the filter of abuse.
Don’t let another minute go by without seeking help, it’s likely that kind of abuse has impacted your life in almost every single way and now is the time for healing. Also, don’t let flawed and broken people keep you from the heart of God.
Sarah Ann is an author, speaker and media personality committed to honesty, vulnerability and authenticity. She has a passion for empowering people who are willing to be honest and walk out life in Christ together. Sarah holds a Bachelors in Biblical Studies and a Masters in Theology and Apologetics, she also owns a clothing company, Ascent516.com and is the creator of SarahAnnSpeaks.com and the Sarah Ann Speaks Podcast. Sarah is featured daily on GEB TV.