DAY #9

Psalm 91:1-3

I mistakenly gave away a test answer in front of a class once. What followed has seared itself into my memory. The teacher shouted at me in front of the whole class, severely and loudly shaming me until I felt two inches high. 

We’ve all experienced it—a shame wound inflicted by someone’s harsh censure. The result, for me at least, is predicable. During the recovery period my mind naturally drifts toward all the things I’ve done right—my virtues, my assets, my righteousness. It’s as if a huge draft has been taken from my righteousness “bank” and I feel driven to replace it. 

Sociologist call this phenomenon “licensing effect.” We often attempt to “atone” for our shame by performing or rehearsing good deeds. We feel unconsciously driven to say, I’m not as bad as they say I am. I have a full catalog of goodnesses. 

Religious practices, from weary pilgrimages to fasting and prayer as means of self-purging, have been used to placate inner shame and replace moral “credit.” Such practices flow out of our basic false belief that we can generate self-righteousness. 

We cannot. But we can accept Jesus’ righteousness in place of our own, and then stand boldly before those who would condemn us to hell. 

Instead of trying to appease God through your own righteousness, thank Him for His. Say out loud, “Thank You for saving me when I could not save myself.” Now say it again, thinking carefully about that truth. Let it seep down into your heart. 

Now imagine the enemy setting a trap for your feet. Imagine yourself nearly walking into it, then God lifting you above it. Imagine a terrible disease spreading in the world. Now imagine God wiping out the disease. Imagine yourself in searing heat, and God inviting you into a shady place with a cool breeze. God does these things for us gladly. Thank Him for it. 

Dear Most High God, we come now into your secret place. We walk out of our place of shame into Your righteousness. Thank You, thank You, thank You. 

“He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust. Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence.” Psalm 91:1-3

61 thoughts on “DAY #9

  1. Daniel Parsons

    I felt shame recently when my wife Patricia told me that I was married to my computer and not married to her. She had been crying at night when she would try to sleep.

    We had a long talk and she told me how my being so absorbed into my work and social media makes her feel like she is a piece of furniture.

    As she talked to me about her sadness, I prayed that Jesus would help me. HE came along side of me and we had just started doing the Jesus Meditations a day before my shame event. I told my wife that I will ask God in prayer every morning to spend my time wisely from now on.

    I removed the social media app that was part of my phone addiction. I actually only have a flip phone I use in the USA when we are there because this issue has come up in the past for our marriage.

    I can really identify with the  phenomenon “licensing effect.” We often attempt to “atone” for our shame by performing or rehearsing good deeds. We feel unconsciously driven to say, I’m not as bad as they say I am. I have a full catalog of goodnesses. 

    Thank God I can rely on Jesus’s Righteousness and accept HIS changes that HE is making happen in our marriage and in my life.

    Reply
    1. Jennifer Schwirzer

      Wow, such a powerful story and such a present reality. I’m glad you’re doing JMs together so it doesn’t become yet another thing to separate you. We’re kind of limited for social outlets right now because of COVID, so we need social media, but then it so quickly takes over.

      Reply
  2. Belinda

    My worst experience of shame was when something I had revealed to a trusted friend in confidence was made public. My automatic response was to burst into tears and run and hide. If Jesus had been in my circumstance I think he would have stood firm unashamed knowing that what had been revealed although embarrassing didn’t affect his value has an image bearer of God.

    Reply
    1. Jennifer Schwirzer

      Public shame is horrible. Jesus enduring the Cross, despising the shame. He knows how we feel, and also how to resolve those deep, intense feelings and turn the whole situation around to be a way of helping others.

      Reply
  3. Simone

    it was a normal thing to be reminded by my brothers and sisters that I was only a half sister. I tried to compensate by working harder, doing the jobs on the farm they didn’t want to do. I carried that into so many areas of my life. God has been healing me the last few years and this meditation is very healing also.
    Jennifer I didn’t answer the vote quickly enough about breaking into groups for sharing and discussion after sabbath school. It would be good because I know if it doesn’t happen you can wear yourself out. It is too much for one person.

    Reply
      1. Simone

        Cinderella got the lovely “Prince Jesus” and the step brothers and sisters are still looking. Thank you. You have a gift to say one word carefully and it means so much.

        Reply
  4. Valerie

    It’s hard to remember specifics that don’t feel too sensitive to share right now. But I know I have sometimes experienced being made to feel like I did something very wrong when I hadn’t or hadn’t intended anything of the kind, sometimes personally and other times publically, just like in your story. It hurts a lot, but so thankful that Jesus is perfect Love who casts out fear. It’s good to imagine Him in those circumstances and know I wasn’t and am not alone.

    Reply
  5. Megan

    The deepest shame I’ve ever felt was when someone who had been kind to me for a few years (and I had trusted them) responded with emotionally invalidating comments when I admitted to being depressed. I was left numb and blindsided, wishing the ground would open up and swallow me. The low level of health and functioning that I had all but evaporated. I quit studying and withdrew into myself, like a snail. (I was accustomed to invalidation from strangers, but without going into details, this came from someone I had esteemed highly.) I gave them the gift of honesty, and was rewarded with deep, paralysing shame. There was no space anywhere for my pain, it seemed. If Jesus were there in person, He wouldn’t have made me feel so small. He would have listened and accepted me, and it would have been to me strength and health. I could have pushed on, instead of retreating. I survived that experience by imagining Jesus was by my side, weeping with me.

    Reply
    1. cree

      Megan, I’m very sorry to hear that. It sounds heartbreaking 🙁 Words of people dear to us are so powerful–to the point that we yearn for disappearance! But praise the Lord for making sure that we know He is close us when we feel dejected / hurting! I think my experience is similar to yours, but instead of receiving invalidating comments from my then best friend, she seemed to be indifferent / not concerned after sharing with her a long description of how difficult my journey to healing has been. Right then and there, I was fully convinced that we see BFF-ship differently. It’s a sad parting, but also liberating. –knowing that everything will be okay, by the grace of God; and that there is ALWAYS space for my pain in the heart of Jesus. I recently just learned the song “Jesus, Lover of my Soul” and been blessed by the words. I pray that God will bless you and I with discernment moving forward, so we can identify those who value our honesty; and those whom we can feel safe with in times of vulnerability…

      Reply
      1. Megan

        Thank you, cree. Thanks for being understanding, and for sharing. I really appreciate it.

        I’m so sorry that your former best friend was not able to be there for you. It sounds like she may have been emotionally unavailable (so very painful to discover that after you’ve been vulnerable and shared your story). I’m also very sorry that your journey to healing has been difficult. I do not know just how difficult, but I do know that Jesus would’ve seen every moment, with great love and concern for you. Really love what you said: “there is ALWAYS space for my pain in the heart of Jesus”. I have found this to be true, as well.

        Discernment is key, and a good thing to pray for. There are those who /say/ they value vulnerability and honesty in their relationships, but then abandon you the moment you go out on a limb and offer it! That’s what happened in my situation. The person had me convinced they were safe, but ultimately proved to be unsafe. I still pray for the person who hurt me, as I’m sure they have unresolved issues of their own. Through the grace of God, I have been able to forgive them, yet I still have residual trust issues that I’m working through. Hopefully, healing will come.

        “Jesus, Love of my Soul” is such a beautiful song. Thank you for reminding me of it, I will go have a listen now. 🎶😌

        Reply
  6. Jane

    Interesting, as I was listening and anticipating what would be said next, the message suddenly did a 180 from what I’d expected. It said, “my mind naturally drifts toward all the things I’ve done…” and I expected the word “wrong” to be said next, but I was surprised when it led to “the things I’ve done ‘right.'” No, that’s not how I responded when I was shamed last Thursday night for my attempts to prevent someone from continuing to act in an unloving way. My response to the shame was to wonder why I’m such a failure and when will I ever learn to stop trying to stop pain from happening to others. I guess that’s my dysfunction of codependency. Not sure what the “right” response would have been — just let people hurt other people? Maybe it’s a pride thing to think I could even stop pain from happening, I don’t know. But thankfully, whatever the roots, God isn’t finished working with me yet. Hopefully each day of my life His wisdom of how to best love people will rub off on me more and more. Lord, please help us all!

    Reply
    1. Jennifer Schwirzer

      I think some people will respond to shame by heaping more shame on themselves and others will try to compensate by remembering all their assets. Both those responses fail to see the way out of shame, which is Jesus and His righteousness. Whether we grovel or arrogate, we’re operating from wanting self-generated worthiness. But learning to look away to an outside source of righteousness makes all the difference.

      Reply
    2. Sharon

      I had the same thought. I tend to be like a pig in a pigsty when it comes to shame. I wallow and smear as much on me as possible. Thank God He isn’t finished with any of us yet!

      Reply
  7. Shirley Mann

    The first thing I thought of was an incident that happened when I was less than 12 years old. Some other kids called me a name and I did not know what the word they called me meant. I went home and looked it up. They indeed meant to shame me! However, once I knew the meaning of the name I knew that was not true about me so I think instead of shame I felt more of a distrust of those kids. I am not sure that I ever associated with them again!
    If Jesus had been there they would probably never called anyone the name they called me.

    Reply
  8. Cheryl

    I have too many instances of being shamed by others to pick one and/or they are too shameful to talk about here. I have brought shame on myself by my poor choices or sins. I carry other people’s shame too. I can’t seem to accept that Jesus forgives me and loves me.

    I feel shame for not having a personal relationship with Jesus and not knowing how to be in a relationship with Jesus. I don’t know what having a personal relationship with Jesus looks like. The Bible says to seek Him with all my heart and that I will find Him. I don’t find this to be the case.

    I like the idea of Jesus saying, Hey! that’s my daughter, and sitting next to me the rest of the day. Also, inviting me to sit in a cool, shady place because I have lived in a lonely, dry, scorched place for too long!

    Thank you Jennifer for the imagery you use in your Jesus meditations. Maybe this will help me see God as close and not distant.

    Reply
    1. Jennifer Schwirzer

      I think we see a personal relationship with Jesus as something we have to initiate. But He has already initiated it with us, and all we do is respond to Him loving us sacrificially by saying “thank you!”

      Reply
  9. Amy

    Shame is so difficult to talk about. I try not remember but then it comes back and all the feelings from a lifetime rush in. Thank you Jesus for offering the solution. Now to let it sink into my soul.

    Reply
  10. Sharon

    I’ve had a hard time with this one, because it’s one I still deal with. Several of my relatives were/are in various leadership positions in the church, and are well known and highly respected. I have yet to step foot into a church where someone doesn’t recognize me, ask if I’m related to so-and-so, and then gush about how wonderful that person is. I immediately go blank mentally, smile and nod and agree with everything said, then leave and turn into a gnat on the inside. Because my relatives were the opposite of wonderful to me. And I’ve just been invalidated and rejected AGAIN. Which just brings up all the shame of the past abuse, neglect, trauma, rejection, and invalidation. Once again, I don’t exist. I KNOW my relatives treat other people differently. I KNOW I’m going to encounter those who insist on viewing my family as perfect “saints.” And yet it happens every time. EVERY TIME. And I just crawl further into my black hole of nothingness.
    A few years ago, I first had a dream. I was a toddler, and I was trying to climb up to God’s throne in heaven. The path was narrow, with a steep, endless drop on either side. I was surrounded by people, many with faces I recognized. They were in a frenzy, doing anything they could to try to stop me from continuing upwards, and push me off the edge. I collapsed in despair, shattered and broken, while they continued yelling, grabbing, stomping at me. Until suddenly they all turned pale and drew back in fear. Jesus walked through their midst. He picked me up and carried me to the throne. Arms reached out of the brilliant glory that surrounds the Father, pulled me in and held me close.
    I’m still struggling to wrap my mind around the significance of that dream because being wanted and accepted and belonging are such foreign concepts to me. But I keep going back to it. Because it means there’s still hope. God hasn’t given up, and He isn’t finished with me yet. That’s true even when I can’t see it. And it’s true of all of us. He hasn’t given up. He’s still working, and He will finish the good work that He started.

    Reply
    1. Donna

      I understand your post. The “reality” of home life vs the “phoniness” of a public life. It’s important to look good for the masses. I’m sorry you felt like you were invisible. Your dream with such detail is quite amazing. It had to be rather scary … and then Jesus shows up. I hope you can find comfort in that.

      Reply
    2. Jennifer Schwirzer

      What a beautiful dream! I think it’s very clear what is means, don’t you? God has raised you up together with Christ to sit in high places. Hypocrisy is hard to bear, for sure. It helps me to keep reminding myself that everything hidden will be made known.

      Reply
  11. Mel

    So the whole of this meditation actually spoke to an exact situation I experienced today. It’s too personal to share, but I will say that having listened this morning, made me see how I often either justify myself when I feel wronged and shamed, or self depreciate (which I’m learning is just another form of pride and self-righteousness). I am trying to choose to see Jesus lifting me over the situation rather than my feet stuck in the mud again. He promises to deliver me from this struggle and even though I can’t see it yet and I seem to keep running back to those things that pull me down into anxiety, I’m going to keep believing that He alone is my rescuer and will indeed rescue me and protect me from these traps!

    Reply
  12. Sarah

    I think daily experiences in which some small interaction happens that makes me feel shame lead me to self-justification and listing the things I’ve done right. But other experiences lead me to the opposite and listing all the ways I’ve failed. About the time I realized I needed to leave the abusive situation I was in, my abusers began spreading lies about me to others, both friends and acquaintances. They continued after I left, and I’ve lost a good many friends––even childhood friends who’d met these abusive people through me. Some of the lies were so horrendous. But I had been conditioned to question my sanity, and so I began wondering whether I had done something to prompt the abusers to misunderstand me and started rehearsing everything I had done wrong and why I deserved the shame and should be punished. Nearly a year later, as I began to learn about abuse, I discovered that abusers often lie about their victims, especially when they realize they’re losing them, so that others won’t believe the victims when they finally speak up about the abuse. In my situation, I imagine as I melt in shame because of the lies and anguish over the loss of my friends, Jesus comes and puts His arm around my shoulders like a big brother, and tells me, “I understand how you feel. Satan has lied about My character, too. But I know the truth about you. You are not what they are saying. They are just imitating the father of lies. Stay with Me, and someday everyone will know the truth. In the meantime, I have a work for you to do to show others the truth about My character.”

    Reply
    1. Jennifer Schwirzer

      Beautiful. You’re right that we can go both ways, either listing our assets to compensate for a shame wound, or wallowing in the shame. What God is trying to teach us is to give both true and false shame to Him who endured the Cross, despising the shame. Why bear it when He already has?

      Reply
  13. Katrina

    Hi Everyone
    I find myself thinking often of how I can try to do better in the light of a specific person in mind. Thinking about what that person might say or do if they were with me and what they might tell me or that they don’t like it or to do it another way. I have gotten to a point where I realize these are thoughts and that they don’t define me. It seems as though this comes from my past of never being told a compliment and being thought of and dealt with like I would never amount to anything. I realize also this was because of how they felt and thought of themselves. I deal with this thought processing daily. BUT, Jesus is showing me ever so faithfully, like through these meditaions that I’m enough. He has given me my own mind to use. This Jesus meditation has truly helped to change and encourage me in the way of Jesus! The song is so moving too! I love and appreciate music so much!
    Thank you!
    Peace

    Reply
  14. Nowelle

    The things I’m thinking of are too personal and I’m too sensitive to share. However, I can remember times when my mother would say something purposely to shame me in front of others. It happened more than once, and hurt so badly every time. I can’t imagine what Jesus would have done if He’d been there in person, but I knew at the time that it was hurting Him too (I was probably in my mid-late teens when it got really bad). Praise the Lord that we can call on Him, He sees us and hears us. He is our ever present help in time of need.

    Reply
    1. Jennifer Schwirzer

      I was surprised to find in the writings of Ellen White, evidence that teachers and parents could destroy the self-respect of the child through public shaming. I’d always seen self-respect as internally generated. But apparently not. In any case, public shame is the worst form, and in sensitive people becomes very internalized. God knows and helps us out of the pit of public shame.

      Reply
  15. Nicky Dube

    I can remember back many years ago trying to reveal my feelings of loneliness in a lighthearted way in a group setting and being met with very awkward uncomfortable silence. I felt very exposed in the moment and whenever the moment came into my memory. I was at a very vulnerable time in my life. If I had listened for the voice of Jesus at that time, I would have heard him say, “I’m sorry you feel that way. You’re never alone. I am always with you.”

    Reply
    1. Jennifer Schwirzer

      Nicky, that’s so sad that people went blank. They probably had their own loneliness to contend with and felt exposed. When we try to create a culture of vulnerability, it can backfire. But it’s still the right thing to do!

      Reply
  16. Sabrina

    I’ve been trying to think through past experiences, but I can’t remember a situation where I was shamed by someone else—-much of my shame was self-inflicted. In attempts to alleviate shame, I remember promising myself that I would never do anything to feel the guilt and shame again. Of course, those promises were empty. But Jesus’ promise of righteousness is real, and I want to receive it with open hands.

    Reply
  17. Katrina

    Hi Everyone
    I listened to what I think is day 10 but when I click on ‘conversation’ it goes to day 9 and I am unable to find day 10.
    I’ve been trying all day. Is anyone else having this problem? This is the first time this has happened. I’ve tried getting out of it and going back to it several times but it hasn’t worked. I’m wondering if there is someone who can help navigate possible solutions. Thank you!
    Peace

    Reply
  18. Den

    1 example Jennifer’s story reminded me of…. I felt a lot of shame in my early school life. Every Friday I would fail spelling and mental arthritic tests even though I had studied. It didn’t seem to stick and because I was anxious that made it worse and I felt so stupid. If Jesus would have told me to to worry that those tests didn’t define my future or indicate my present value. He would have calmed my 8 yr old heart with a reassuring hug.

    Reply
  19. Vanessa

    Growing up, I had too many of these experiences of shame and was a pro at internalizing. Over time, I had to get into the mindset of “Yes, mistakes were made, but I’m not who they say I am,” and acquaint myself with who Jesus says I am. He doesn’t speak to us cruelly, only with love.

    Reply
  20. Ericka

    growing up with undiagnosed aspergers/autism, i was often shamed for not being like everyone else. just repeatedly being taken advantage of and even still as an adult people will misunderstand me because of how i somehow dont communicate clearly, or i communicate in ways that i would want and arent how NT people want… and i used to end up feeling like whats wrong with me that i cant just be clear or speak so im understood… stuff like that. and ive been yelled at at times excessively i felt for things i did wrong as a kid.

    or forr how i was left out of the joke. or even how my niceness was misinterpreted as more serious than it was – loving people “too much” or “too obviously” or “too outwardly” or “too forwardly”… when others could flat out flirt directly and not be judged or teased for it – whats wrong with me that i couldnt act like that too and not be picked on?

    anyway. most of that is behind me. but i imagine Jesus would just have come along and said “hey, shes fine, i made her this way, theres nothing wrong with her, even tho immature, shes my special child created to love on people who might not otherwise be appreciated that way…”

    Reply
      1. Ericka Iverson

        yeah for sure. its no mistake. there are things im passionate about that few else care about.. i just wish i could do something more about them because i have zero power to right now. i get a bit caught up in these things that ive learned but cant quite do.. its not like a sin thing, but literal things that i know are life improving but cant afford to do.. or have done for my kids.. things that make a long term difference in quality of life… eh. like why am i obsessed over them right now when i cant do anything about it? and theres an urgency because problems can be prevented by doing it now.. but we cant. ugh. its stuck.

        Reply
  21. Tara

    I’m having a lot of trouble responding to this. I think I’m confusing guilt and shame. I definitely experienced the school yard teasing and bullying that is, sadly, so common. Probably my most shameful experience was one I brought on myself (maybe guilt?). I won’t share the details on this public forum, but I will say that God used that rock bottom experience to reveal Himself to me in a way I had never seen before. My relationship with Him did a 180, and I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

    Reply
  22. Sasha

    I felt shame when friends of mine and my husband were talking about when they first fell in love with Jesus. My husband had asked did we all remember that moment. They all had wonderful responses. I was hoping they wouldn’t ask me. I didn’t want to lie. When they finally asked for my “moment”, I truthfully said…I don’t know that I have had that experience yet. It mad me sad, ashamed, frustrated because I had been trying. To my relief, one of my friends responded with “flesh and blood did not reveal that to you”. I was grateful that I did not receive the shock and ridicule I thought I would. At that moment, I believe Jesus was comforting me and saying Thank you for being honest. I am with you and your journey is going better than you think.

    Reply
  23. Ann

    When I feel shame, I don’t automatically go to thoughts of my self righteousness. I go further down the shame path. Oh how I need to pray for deliverance from the snarler.

    Reply
  24. Erin D

    I think my first association with shame was from feeling unwanted by my father. My parents divorced when I was five and he chose another relationship and staying away from my mother over spending time or having a relationship with me. At one point he wouldn’t even allow me to know where he lived. I guess it always made me try to be good so that someone would pay attention to me and maybe love me. Another big scar was my mother lashing out at me for trying to grow up by telling me that there’s something wrong with my brain and that I don’t think normally. To have the one person who was supposed to support and care for me attack me in such a way was shattering. If Jesus had been there, He would’ve reassured me that He Himself made me and my brain for His glory.

    Reply

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