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Stopping Shame In Its Tracks

hand stretched out and reaching out window
August 26, 2019
Erin Branham

True confessions: I’ve been avoiding going to my endocrinologist. That’s my doctor who looks at my thyroid. I have a yearly meeting with her in April where she reviews my thyroid (I have hypothyroidism). Endocrinologists book WAY out in advance, so when I received my appointment reminder in the mail in October, I set it aside with the intention of forgetting about it.  

The last time I saw her, she noticed my weight had been steadily creeping up by a pound or two each visit. Rightly, she brought it to my attention and added the expectation that I needed to lose what I’d gained. I agreed with her, and I was on track… until the back half of last year when I went through some struggles, stopped following my healthy habits (like walking every day), and I ended up gaining a few more pounds on top of what I was supposed to lose.

I’ve been able to get myself on track, but I’m still a few pounds away from when I last saw her. I know I’ve needed to make the appointment, but I didn’t want her to see me this way. I wanted her to see the “on track” version of myself. There’s a fair amount of shame that I’ve gained weight and that I didn’t follow her orders. 

This week, when I reached out for a refill on some thyroid medication, her office said, “You’re overdue for a visit!” Magically, an appointment was made available within 48 hours. That NEVER happens.  

You know what? This thing that I had blown up in my mind – so much so that I was willing to put my health at risk – wasn’t a thing. Everything I feared – being shamed, chastised, feeling like a failure – were all things I was putting on myself. When we met for our appointment, not once did she put any of that on me. She handled me with understanding and grace like she always does. When our appointment was over, I felt good and renewed to keep tackling things.  

God reminded me that I do the same thing in my relationship with Him. I sin and then out of shame, fear of being reprimanded, and not wanting to admit that I fell short, I avoid Him. I then try to atone on my own by being a better person, and then I go back to God when I feel like I’ve been better. Sound familiar? I know I’m not alone in doing this. 

Fear is such a liar. It’s fear that makes me think God is going to chew me out.

  • The truth is, I need to stop allowing self-condemnation to keep me from going to God because, “…there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” – Romans 8:1-2
  • Try as hard as I might to atone for what I did by being better, I can’t because “He [Jesus] himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins–and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.” – 1 John 2:2
  • When you and I sin and ask for forgiveness, God chooses to forget it and won’t bring it up to us: “I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.” – Isaiah 43:25
  • There doesn’t need to be any fear going to God because “The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.” – Psalm 103:13-15 

I’m trying to remember that it’s my own insecurities that keep me from going to God. God’s reaction is kind, just, compassionate, full of love, grace, and mercy. Knowing all of this, why do I still fear? Because I’m putting my experience with the human reaction of falling short on God as if it will be His reaction. But it won’t be.

The best way to stop shame in its tracks is to remember God’s mercy and grace. I don’t have to be better on my own. I don’t have to hesitate before going to God. He’s an open book, ready and willing to listen, love, and forgive.  

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