“Shame is a soul eating emotion.”
C. G. Jung
I loved dressing up when I was a little girl. I’d put on various outfits, Mom’s jewelry, hats and the ultimate…high heels. My parents called me the Dress-Up Queen. I don’t remember playing different roles with each of the outfits. I just enjoyed looking good.
Do we ever grow out of dressing up and pretending we’re someone other than ourselves? Our outfits may change, but hiding behind various masks makes us think we look good enough to make others like us. And then, just maybe, we’ll like ourselves.
The first game of hide and seek occurred in the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve took a bite of the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 3:10 is Adam’s response to God’s question of “Where are you?” Adam answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” The progression of sin, shame, fear, and hiding continues today.
We can experience shame through numerous entrance points. Things like physical, verbal, or sexual abuse may have been committed against us. Even children teasing us about our looks while growing up can cause shame to come upon us. Having critical parents who gave love based on what we did rather than who we were or having parents who were emotionally unattached, can set us up for feeling ashamed. Our sinful choices also make us feel ashamed. The basic lie of shame is that we are defective. We then hide and put on masks in hopes of making ourselves more acceptable to others. Shame and mask-wearing prevents intimacy with God and other people.
Some of the various masks we hide behind are: perfectionism, people-pleasing, busyness, ministry, addictions, being religious and performance. You can tell which mask was my favorite one by my Dad’s nickname for me, “Miss Goody Two Shoes.”
Shame messes with your identity. It makes you think you need something more, instead of simply belonging to Christ and having your identity be in Him. Unashamed people have no identity issues and they have no need to hide behind anything when they present themselves to others. They don’t need important positions, lots of possessions, or great talent. There’s no need to look good on the outside in order, to feel good on the inside. The unashamed already know who they are and like who they are. They know in their heart of hearts they belong to Christ, and nothing else matters. Therefore, they’re free to be themselves.
I remember one birthday a friend picked me up and exclaimed, “Let’s go celebrate you!” It was foreign to my ears and to my heart. I didn’t really like myself, so why all the celebration? A few years later after I experienced healing and emotional wholeness, the same friend picked me up for my birthday and this time I exclaimed, “Let’s go celebrate me!”
If you absolutely must hide, then hide behind Christ. Colossians 3:3 says, “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” When you are a Christian, it’s as if Jesus stands in front of you and God the Father only sees His perfect Son. It’s in Christ that we are acceptable. No need to dress up or slip on another mask. You already look good to God!
“Our self-appraisal must always match God’s appraisal of us, or we will fall for the lies Satan tells us.”
Dr. Henry Malone
1. How has shame prevented you from experiencing intimacy with God, others, and yourself?
2. What masks do you put on to make yourself look good?
3. Which identity lies are you most susceptible to believing?