We welcome Sarah, 2017 Mercy graduate, as she shares a personal post about learning how to beat shame. Thank you Sarah for your vulnerability and willingness to share about what God taught you in a season of overcoming guilt and shame. We are grateful for your heart and wisdom.
I graduated from Mercy Multiplied in August of 2017. During my time at Mercy, Freedom & Fashion, an organization that uses the arts of fashion and beauty to empower youth overcoming injustices, came to teach us for a few weeks. I grew so much during this time, and my faith in God only deepened. I was nervous about what I might learn, but I knew that growth only comes through stepping out of your comfort zone. I knew this would be good for me. Freedom & Fashion taught me how to be more vulnerable with others, more open to ideas and concepts about fashion, and ultimately how to be more comfortable accentuating my own beauty. Freedom & Fashion helped me overcome many insecurities I had about myself.
During my time at Mercy Multiplied I battled shame, guilt, and their follower – condemnation. Guilt says you’ve done something wrong, and shame says you are something wrong. Guilt says the behavior is bad, and shame says you are bad because of your behavior. Guilt can cause physical sickness because of its associated pressure, and it can also keep us from hearing from God. In a teaching on shame and guilt, a speaker shared this quote: “Freedom = knowing yourself and loving yourself.” The speaker also said: “Let God deal with your behavior.” The point is, despite our behavior, we can still love ourselves although the enemy would rather tell us otherwise.
Shortly after learning this, Freedom & Fashion came to Mercy Multiplied, and I spent two weeks going through their curriculum, an experience that forever changed my life. In one of the sessions, we watched a documentary called “The Power of Vulnerability” by Dr. Brene Brown. We also listened to Dr. Brene Brown’s TED talk on “Listening to Shame.” She said, “Shame is the swampland of the home.” I couldn’t agree more. Shame induces us to think, “I’ll never be good enough. What’s wrong with me?” Dr. Brown mentioned that shame is epidemic in our culture. It causes silence, judgment, and secrecy, which only increases the shame cycle.
During the time when Freedom & Fashion became a part of my life, I overcame this shame cycle. My Mercy counselor and I had already been working through these thoughts and emotions of shame and guilt, and I was ready to be set free. That night I was talking to the Director of Freedom & Fashion about how all this discussion about guilt and shame were really connecting with me and my counseling sessions and what was happening within my soul through all of this. She asked, “Do you want to be set free? It can happen for you right now if you want it.” I said yes. Immediately, the Director of Freedom & Fashion had a team member pray with me, and I felt the heaviness of shame and guilt lift off me.
Whenever those negative thoughts and feelings creep in, remind yourself that your identity isn’t found or based upon what you’ve done or how you feel about yourself, but who you are and who you were created to be.