The Samaritan woman’s life was a wreck. After five failed marriages, she continued
her same lifestyle, but stopped the formality of marriage. She came to the well when
the sun blazed so she could draw water alone and hide from the comments, the
whispers, and the condemning looks (John 4).

King David was a powerful man who abused his power by sleeping with another man’s
wife, Bathsheba. But soon he discovered she was pregnant. Out of fear of exposing his
wickedness, he tried to hide behind a cover-up that soon turned murderous (2 Sam. 11).
One woman suffered from a hemorrhage for twelve years. All that time: she lived
unclean, uncomfortable, and uncomforted. She saw Jesus heal others and longed to
receive his touch. A large crowd followed Him wherever He went. So how could she
ask Him in front of everyone? Finally, she sought to hide in anonymity by just touching
the hem of His garment (Luke 8:43-48).

These are three biblical portraits of people who tried to hide their shame in the wrong
places. But the wonderful thing is that all three experienced God’s power to break
shame’s hold over them and set them free. Thankfully, this wonderful experience can
also be ours.

Most of us, at one time or another, have had to navigate the shadow of shame. It may
have been something we’ve done, or something that’s been done to us. Either way, it
acts like a dark cloak around our heart and soul haunting our thoughts, emotions, and
behaviors. Shame is a complicated emotion. It is a toxic product of guilt and has been
a part of our story since Adam and Eve painfully discovered the effects of sin in the
Garden. Their first instinct was to hide from each other and God (Genesis 3:7–11).
And no wonder. They stood guilty before God and were vulnerable to each other and
Satan in a whole new horrible way.

Even so, God uses our guilt to draw us to Him. This is Godly sorrow and it alerts us to
our need for forgiveness. However, guilt and shame are also used by our spiritual
enemy to shackle and disable us. The kind of shame we often experience is a potent
combination of failure and pride. We fail morally (sin), we fail due to our limitations
(weakness), and we fail because “creation is subject to futility” and oftentimes doesn’t
work right (Romans 8:20). We also fail to live up to other people’s expectations. And
because we are full of sinful pride, we are ashamed of our failures and weaknesses,
and will go to almost any length to hide them from others. Sadly, if untreated, shame
has the power to cast a shadow that can impact the whole trajectory of our lives.

To distinguish the difference:
Guilt is based on behavior = I did wrong.
While shame is based on a flawed identity = I am wrong.
Science tells us that shadows are made by blocking light. Light rays travel from a
source in straight lines. If an object gets in the way, it stops light rays from traveling
through it, which then creates a shadow. By design, sin produces guilt and if our
identity isn’t aligned to God’s grace, we take on the burden of shame, which casts a
shadow from the inside out.

The key to breaking the power of pride-fueled shame is the superior power of humility-
fueled faith in the work and promises of Christ. Shame pronounces us guilty and deficient. Jesus pronounces us guiltless, and promises that his grace will be sufficient for us in all our weaknesses (2 Cor. 12:9-10). The only remedy to our shame-shadowed lives is reorienting our identity to the cross. This is where shame and glory collide revealing the transformative power of forgiveness. Every time we receive this gift we allow Christ to shine through our shame and destroy its toxic effects. As we surrender our sin-filled ways unto Him, Jesus makes our shame a showcase of His grace. After all, “Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, scorning the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:2.)

Please join me in praying the following scriptures over our children and grandchildren.
Ask God to reveal where shame casts the darkest shadows in their lives. May they, by
God’s grace, never allow shame to block the goodness of God and His great plans for
their lives: