DAY #8

Psalm 94:17-19

I had a recurring dream as a child in which I arrived at my elementary school, took off my coat, and found that all I had on was my underwear. Yet I could do nothing about it. I stood there, in the midst of fully-clothed classmates, effectively naked. 

We’re told that after they partook of the forbidden fruit “the eyes” of Adam and Eve “were open and they knew they were naked.” They knew shame for the first time. Because this shame is now part of our nature, it sits, fat and ugly, in our souls, too heavy to move, too large to ignore. 

While shame is unresolved, it drives us to seek resolution through compensatory self-righteousness. We will mindlessly try to be “good enough” to quiet the pangs. Or we will numb it away with various addictions designed to kill our moral sensibilities. Sin created a worthiness vacuum. Having collectively lost our sense of God’s approval, we reflexively stave off our feelings of unworthiness through various devices. 

Humans fall into one of two shame ditches—the narcissistic and the codependent type. Either we stifle shame through feelings of superiority, pride, and entitlement, or we cherish feelings of inferiority, low self-esteem, and unworthiness. The foundation of these two states is the same—the hope that through something we have, something we are, or something we can do, we will be able to take away that fat, ugly core of shame. 

The gospel’s answer to the shame dilemma is a new Source of righteousness. Jesus is reaching out constantly, wanting to lead us to a new foundation, a foundation built on his lacerated back; a foundation of His righteousness in place of our own. 

Confess your sins honestly to God, as to someone Who already knows, and forgives you still. Tell God right now what you’ve thought, cherished, and done out of sinful and self-centered greed, pride, lust. As you speak, He looks at you with mercy. Imagine how His face reflects that mercy. Picture Him looking at you with tenderness in His eyes. Imagine Him saying, “I forgive you.” Then believe that He has forgiven you because He has promised. 

Oh, God of grace and comfort, You love us with an everlasting, unfailing, and unfathomable love. While we have thrashed around, looking for a human solution to my sin, You have stood by with the only solution, Your own righteousness, woven on the loom of heaven. We finally see it, but we want to see it more. We want to receive your mercy and comfort more—immediately and ongoingly. Teach us how. Amen. 

“Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul would soon have settled in silence. If I say, ‘My foot slips,’ Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up. In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.” Psalm 94:17-19

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64 thoughts on “DAY #8

  1. Patrice Kielhorn

    I definitely lean toward the codependent camp, but I also have narcissism lurking in the shadows. I long to be free from the shame that sin produces. I have had a difficult time believing in the forgiveness that God offers us, and I tend to have a hard time finding the balance between my efforts to do right and accepting what He gives as a free gift. I am thankful for this time to reflect on His righteousness.

  2. Daniel Parsons

    My low self-esteem probably came from a very dysfunctional home in the south. I am 27 years on the recovery journey. Instead of dwelling on all my missed opportunities from the addictions I used to cope with my issues, I must do what a favorite Pastor of mine says: Keep your eyes focused on Jesus and doing His Will today, don’t look back. satan shoots his deceptive darts at me on my journey and my self-righteousness surfaces at times. Oh Lord, have mercy, use me to do YOUR Will, not mine.

  3. cree

    Thank you for this meditation. I love the song too! 🎶

    It’s interesting that having been “broken” due to a relationship with a narcissist was what it took to teach my co-dependent self about self-respect. I was never “good enough” for him no matter how much I tried to “prove” to him that he’s more special to me than the others I’ve been with when I was still in the world.

    My shame was mainly rooted in the fact that I allowed that to happen to myself because it really impacted my life significantly in negative ways. It was unbearable.

    I’m grateful that our loving God had saved me from that relationship. Though the pain was even greater during recovery, I know God’s mercies are deep for me. I can’t think of the right word / phrase but it’s like a combination of tough love and great tenderness. Though each day towards healing has been difficult, I find that His grace really is sufficient. Day by day. His tokens of love here and there. The encouraging messengers He has been sending. The valuable lessons He’s been teaching me about my past and myself. And His assurance that He does not condemn me! 🤍🙏🏽

    I didn’t feel truly loved by him (‘h’ in lowercase) even when I was at “my best”. But Jesus made me feel really loved because He was there even at my worst days (as in I was really in bad shape). But by experiencing His great love, I was convinced that I really am so special to Him! And that compels me to work on my self-respect. By His grace, through Christ’s righteousness, I will be restored into what He created me to be 🤍

      1. cree

        You’re welcome, Sandi. I’m glad to know you were encouraged by my comment (i wasn’t expecting that), and I praise God! Also nice to know there is someone out there who can relate to my experience. Let’s press on, dear sister-in-Christ! We are daughters of God and no man can take that away from us <3

  4. Belinda

    My major source of shame came from the sin of others against me as a child which I internalised as my own sin for a long time. My self-righteousness was in the form of codependency and feelings of unworthiness and depression. I thought if I could make myself small enough my sins would become insignificant. Thank Jesus that his righteousness now covers me and I no longer have to feel ashamed.

    1. Jennifer Schwirzer

      When we are violated as children we often internalize the shameful treatment in the form of personal shame and guilt. What a relief it is to learn that we don’t have to carry even our deserved shame and guilt, much less that which we did not deserve.

  5. Katrina

    Hi Everyone
    This was refreshing and imformative! I’m thankful that I when I feel shame I can give it to God and keep believing ‘His mercy will hold me up’! I just love that last line– His mercy will hold me up.
    So comforting.

  6. Vanessa

    I tend towards the narcissistic disposition. When left unchecked, I can get so deep in the victim mentality that that’s all I see and it hinders me from moving forward. Mercy. To know that Jesus forgives my sin, takes away my shame, and restores my self-respect through His grace is freeing. Keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus, I don’t have to stay stick in my endless ruminations over what was…and can, rather, focus on what is possible with Jesus leading.

  7. Sharon

    I’m definitely the codependent type, although I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some narcissism lurking in the shadows somewhere.

    “My soul would soon have settled in silence.” This is me. Between being unwanted, turned into the family’s favorite scapegoat, just plain “wrong,”and having my will and spirit broken so they could keep me that way, I learned at a very young age that being mute and invisible was the only way to live. It’s basically a perpetual state of nonexistence. I’ve been this way for so long, that I’ve turned it into an art form, even though it’s actually humanly impossible to be invisible. God is using these meditations to slowly break through my shell and uncover the real me, whoever that is. He knows, even if I don’t. It’s painful, but I know it’s necessary. I just keep trying to remember to take things one day, one step at a time, and put my focus on Him, not on the landfill burying me.

      1. Donna

        Sharon, thank you so much for your honesty and transparency. My husband went through a horrible ordeal with our church, and I saw ‘truth’ on both sides, which my husband hated. We were definitely a house divided. Both of us suffered trauma…he is healing, I am not. I took on collateral damage … being in the middle. My husband will say that I suffered the most … my health really took a hit in numerous ways that will never heal. It is now 4 1/2 years later. My brain and body have been altered. I lost my friends and feelings of betrayal, abandonment, shunning, and rejection were massive. I also feel like I live in a state of nearly nonexistence. I used to be relevant … now I’m silent. Like you, I’m hoping these meditation (and my therapist) can help me have courage to break through some barriers and find an existence that feels “right”; I don’t have a clue what that will be. Your testimony inspires me to not give up.

    1. cree

      Thank you for sharing, Sharon. It must have been sad/lonely growing up at home 🙁

      I’ve been blessed by the meditations too. I didn’t know what to expect, but i find it has really been helpful–even if it includes some “work”. You said it, it’s painful but we know it is necessary. I’ve never been on a journey like this before (i am a convert). It’s quite scary in a positive way–the things that God reveals about my life and life in general.

      May we sprout towards the surface of the landfill that has been causing darkness! Though the process is emotionally painful, we’ll make it and feel the warmth of the sun, by the grace of God : )

  8. Kristina

    I think I lean towards co dependent but also pride sneaks in. I am so thankful for the gift of repentance that Jesus gives me so freely. I can be cleansed and restored just for the asking. It feels so good to know that when I fall he helps me up and brushes me off and I can take His hand once again and walk with Him unashamed.

  9. Shirley Mann

    I’ve experienced both types of shame. Even though I know I have been forgiven, there are some things that I keep remembering and feeling sorry for (and ashamed of) again and again. At least these are mostly things that I have not repeated. It is so good to know that I have been forgiven. It would be even better to be able to completely forget some things!

  10. Cheryl

    Somehow, I am in both ditches; narcissistic and the codependent type at the same time. Huge amounts and layers of shame means all the cover up I can find.

    I pray that Jesus breaks through my cycle of guilt and shame and I accept and believe His forgiveness and His love for me.

    1. cree

      I am praying with you, Cheryl! You will break free from it. Nothing is impossible with God. He is all for you, not against you. Sending you my love! <3

    2. Mel

      Cheryl, this is exactly what I wanted to say! I too am somehow in both camps at the same time. It’s so strange that what should be so simple, accepting Jesus forgiveness and righteousness is so much harder than trying to hide. I too am praying for us that we can more easily turn to God thank our self focused, victim, self pitying lens and see all that He wants us to be! A favourite quote from one of my favourite books reads something like this “the Holy Spirit is a divine agent to help us overcome every inherited and cultivated tendency to evil”. Whether we have shame And guilt because of what’s done to us or what we continue to do, God gives us power through His Spirit to overcome them!

  11. Amy

    I can find myself using both the codependent and narcissistic ways of dealing with shame. Even though I can intellectually acknowledge God’s forgiveness, I still struggle to forgive myself for my mistakes. My inner critic keeps saying I should be more, be better. It is exhausting.

    1. cree

      It is indeed very exhausting to wrestle with our “worst enemy” — ourselves 🙁
      i know we’ve never met, but do let me know if ever you want / need to talk to someone. i’d be happy to listen if it would help you in your journey to forgiving yourself.
      hang in there, dear sister!

  12. Jane

    Living in an environment of toxic shame is exhausting and being codependent doesn’t help. However, at the request of the Holy Spirit, there is hope for change – one baby-step of change at a time. Praise God that He who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion, to the day of Jesus Christ. (Phil. 1:6).

  13. Sarah

    I usually am on the codependent side of shame, especially after trauma, although I realize I am not completely free from the narcissistic side, either. But I think the latter is easier for me to identify and run from because of my experiences with abuse––I never want to treat others the way I have been treated. The problem is I struggle to recognize the lies in my head that reinforce the codependent shame until I’ve sunk so far I don’t know how to get out, and only time seems to bring me back. This is the shame that makes me need to be need, compelling me to perform well for others…and the shame that makes me so afraid to reach out to and trust others for fear of rejection if they discover what’s really going on inside of me. The thought that God already knows my sins is familiar, but today the sentence “Confess your sins honestly to God, as to someone who already knows, and forgives you still” really spoke to my heart. Even if no one else around me understands or cares, He does.

  14. Megan

    When I was younger and physically healthier, I had covert narcissistic traits, which I didn’t recognise as such at the time. In more recent years (during chronic illness and the loss of a sense of self) came a shift towards codependency. I understand that Jesus has forgiven me, but I still struggle with shame and loss of self-respect, to be honest.

  15. Ericka

    i must tend to the codependent side. i relate more to being unworthy. ive always been the unpopular, unattractive (socially) one. i tend toward inward depression more than outward confidence. but this also helps me understand someone else i know who comes off as a bit narcissistic.
    when i focus on Jesus, and how He has already forgiven me for things, its a weight off my shoulders. its been in that whole journey that i feel more confident than ever of my preciousness to Jesus, and my worthiness for His salvation.

    1. Jennifer Schwirzer

      The issue with chronic feelings of unworthiness is that we’re operating from the same premise as pride–thinking we can do something to deserve God’s righteousness. It’s so hard to get grace through our heads! But once it gets through, it’s such a relief to not HAVE to deserve anything.

  16. Nicky Dube

    I believe I tend towards the codependent type shame. I have specific examples in mind but won’t share them…because of shame (sigh). Lord help me

  17. Donna

    I’ve been contemplating this script and thoughts about shame all day.

    My current reality … filled with shame that I can’t recover from the abuse that my husband and I suffered from our church. Clear up to the General Conference, 5 attorneys at one point … it was not my issue; it was my husband’s. I had few choices, except to take care of myself, which I found difficult because there was no support group, my therapist didn’t know what to do, I had few skills. I even hurt myself, hoping that my husband would see my pain and do something to fix it. I feel shame that I would hurt myself. Others would think me insane … maybe I was. Embarrassment, humiliation, shame.

    I read your PTSD “Growth Survey”, Jennifer, and my score is “0”. My husband is recovering. He’s an optimist, very resilient. He also sleeps every night. We are opposites. I feel shame that I don’t have a “score”; that I’m still frozen. I used to think I knew what “tired” meant … I’m exhausted from sleep deprivation, massive fear, arguing, waiting, etc. … and I feel shame that I didn’t do a better job at taking care of myself.

    I feel shame because I lack courage to reach out to see what friends may still be mine. Shame envelopes me … I feel frozen. Yesterday was the first time that I felt any hope in 4 1/2 years. It was the first time that I have sensed God in 4 1/2 years. My therapist had tears in his eyes yesterday to see me talking about “possibilities” …. even the tiniest ones. And then last night a massive trigger threw me off my trajectory. But I got back up and came here. 🙂

    Dr. Phil would probably say to me, “I’m not asking ‘Why’ you’re the way you are; I’m asking, ‘Why not'”. And then he would tell me about the professionals that he has all set up to work with me … at his expense … to get me well.

    I’m grateful to you, Jennifer. I’ve told several people that perhaps my first email to, “A Multitude of Counselors”, may have been the voice of God, prompting me.

    I’m co-dependent. Worthlessness has been attacking me. I’m craving to be relevant again. Without a connection … without a purpose … isolated. It’s like living an a street in hell. I feel shame for letting it happen. I think I feel shame that I’m taking up air on this planet. That’s basically believing that I’m nothing. Can’t get any lower on the ladder than that, can you? ooohhh, this is bad. I’ll be back tomorrow.

    1. Jane

      Hi Donna,
      Thanks for your bold sharing! Working for “the saints” can be SO destructive sometimes! I nearly left the church over one of my church employment situations. There’s unresolved pain in so many places inside the church –like landmines ready to explode when any unsuspecting persons steps on them. I can so relate to your “craving to be relevant again.” Prayers for you that God’s love will envelope your heart and bring the healing that Jesus died to provide for you.
      Love and prayers,

    2. Sharon

      Thank you for being brave enough to share, Donna. Like you, my trauma and shame came from highly respected church leaders, many of whom were my relatives. Even to this day, I cannot step foot into a church without someone recognizing me, and asking if I am related to so-and-so, then gushing about how wonderful that person is. This is the first place I have found where I can be honest about how they treated me. And even still, I tend to keep things as anonymous as possible. For decades I have stuggled, wavering back and forth between wanting nothing to do with God and terror from the belief that He’s my only possible hope yet powerless to truly help me. Prayer seemed to be a never-ending circle to nowhere. People kept quoting Jeremiah 29:11 to me, where God says, “I know the plans I have for you…” I couldn’t see it. I also kept getting stuck on verse 13: “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” How in the world could I possibly do that when I didn’t exist? I had no access to my heart. It was the only way to survive at the time. God finally showed me the answer this week: I seek Him with all of my heart when I seek Him with however much of my heart I can access, even if it’s only 1%. Or less. He will reward that. Please don’t give up. Keep seeking Him. However you can right now. You will find Him. Because He has promised you will. And He cannot lie. I’m praying that God brings hope and healing to you, and that He will give you a sense of being held safe in His arms, because you are.

  18. Valerie

    It’s hard to say which side I lean more towards. Maybe I deal with shame more by tending towards codependency. I am so glad that Jesus forgives me, every single thing I’ve done and thought I’ve had that is not in line with Him, and He is faithful to take away all that shame. What amazing grace.

  19. Nowelle

    Hi to all
    Thank you Neville and Jennifer. This scripture song is incredible. There have been times when I’ve fallen into the narcissistic ditch, and other times when I’ve been in the co-dependent. The sins were different, but the shame stays the same. Thank the Lord that while the shame runs deep, so does His mercy and forgiveness.
    It feels humbling to know that God extends grace to me, and also amazing that He is powerful enough to restore my self-respect.

  20. Sabrina Petersen

    I was a very sensitive child that experienced a lot of guilt, even for little things. That guilt weighed me down with a sense of shame, making me feel that God didn’t forgive me or love me. I remember some nights the tears would stream down my cheeks, and I would beg God over and over for forgiveness.

    I’m so thankful I don’t have to live with that kind of shame anymore. The peace in Jesus is so amazing and relieving!

  21. Tara

    Is it possible to vacillate between codependent and narcissist tendencies based on the situation? I would say that I would lean narcissistic in social/work situations and codependent in marriage/relationship situations. Colleagues, students, and friends often see me as a strong, independent thinker with lots of wisdom and life experience to share. And while I’ve dealt with massive amounts of shame and worthlessness from my past, they still like to rear their ugly heads from time to time, generally when I’m exhausted or under a lot of stress because I feel especially prone to failure.

    I thank God that He has given me a caring husband who can be a voice of reason in both of those situations. And I can do the same for my husband when he needs me to!

    1. Jennifer Schwirzer

      In my experience and observation, wives often become more of the codependent type in the context of marriage. Women are wired for relationship and will often sacrifice principle to hold onto one.

  22. Sasha

    In the past, I tended to feel forgiven (esp of sins that caused me great shame) only when I’d suffered in some way. But I’m so glad God is not like that and that faith is not feeling.

  23. Ann

    I would never have thought that feeling inferior and worthless was being codependent. Thank you, Jennifer, for pointing out that this way of thinking is making myself a victim. Thank you for ever pointing us to Jesus.

  24. Erin D

    Being raised by a narcissist and then seemingly surrounded by them and drawn to them my whole life, I lean heavily towards codependency. I can never seem to be good enough for anyone and have had such a hard time finding value in myself, especially now that I’m unable to work or have children, it’s like I’m a nonperson. God has been trying to show me my value comes from Him and no one else.


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