One of the most destructive storytellers in the world is shame. As we walk through our days, whether we face challenges or triumphs, shame leans into our ear, whispering things we wouldn’t tell our worst enemies.
No one will help you.
You don’t matter.
You are invisible.
You are not enough.
Shame tells lies
I’ve been a Licensed Professional Counselor for more than twenty years, and the last seven years I’ve trained in shame resilience. I know shame’s quiet power can take us down quickly.
And I know the stories shame tells me about myself are lies. Yet the feelings shame evokes are so powerful, they often leave me on my knees, and not the peaceful prayerful kind—more like a pit stop on the way to the fetal position.
I know your shame can take you to a dark place too.
But instead of staying stuck in the dark, what if we chose to get curious about our shame and turned toward God with it?
Don’t be afraid to tell Me how weak and weary—even overwhelmed—you feel at times. . . . Although I know everything, I wait to hear from you.
– Jesus Always, October 22nd
When we get curious about shame and why we’re feeling that way, we can move through those feelings—they don’t stay stuck inside of us like a poison eating away at our enoughness. We remember we’re created by a God who made us enough just the way we are.
Those feelings become part of our story, not our whole story.
Then shame can’t suffocate the Light that lives in us.
Live in the Truth
Yes, Jesus has made our lives new. But that doesn’t mean we don’t feel things, especially emotions that feel big or complicated. Too often, I see people trying to plow through their feelings by hurling them onto loved ones, or numbing their feelings away simply because they don’t have the language and tools to cope with them effectively. They end up reacting to their lives, living from feelings and not from the Truth that lives in each of us.
This is especially true of shame. I’ve seen it in my own life.
As a mother who lost three babies in our infertility journey and walks the earth without my children, shame tries to write my story every single day.
You’re invisible. You don’t matter. You are never enough.
After three losses, my husband Chad and I stopped infertility treatments without the traditional happy ending because our money was gone, and our hearts were broken.
I know my babies only through the grainy, black-and-white pictures of them as embryos.
They would be seven this year.
Over time, I’ve worked to heal, and today, I mother many. While I will grieve forever, I am still a mother who chooses to do the work to make my story a gift, especially in finding, creating, and receiving other ways to mother.
But I’m not sure I knew my soul needed more healing until I saw this incredible picture of my family by Ashley at Harmony Design Shop. When I saw it, peace settled in the depths of my soul a little bit more.
In the picture, Jesus stands in as a bridge, in what I call “The And.” For each of us, He’s always in the messy middle, the dark of the garden, the space between. And it’s His love that holds us, understands us, and heals us—and that includes our shame.
Invite Jesus into your shame
Shame says, They were only embryos.
Jesus says, They count too.
Shame says, You must not have wanted to be a mom enough.
Jesus says, You mother many.
Shame says, You didn’t deserve them.
Jesus says, They’ve always been Mine: My gift to you, My gift to this world.
Shame says, You don’t matter.
Jesus says, You matter so much I came for you.
Again, I ask: what if we invited God into our shame? What if we turned toward God with it?
Through the greatest act of empathy, Jesus can feel it with us. He knows struggle, grief, and sorrow—we see Him dealing with these emotions in the garden. He’s a safe space where we can pour out our hearts to him, for God is our refuge (Psalm 62:8 NIV).
Perhaps God is simply waiting to be invited into our struggle.
Shame tells me I am not a mother and, therefore, am invisible. And yet, God is El Roi, the God who sees me, the God who sees you. He knows the pain of our struggle, and He loves us so much.
Let’s turn toward God and let Him love us, because His love heals.
Justine Froelker is a Licensed Professional Counselor with nearly 20 years of experience in mental health and an author of Ever Upward, The Mother of Second Chances and, The Complicated Gray. She lives in Saint Louis with her husband, Chad, and their three dogs and enjoys practicing creative self-care and building butterfly gardens on her acre of land, which has made her an accidental butterfly farmer.