Wednesday, March 11, 2015

How to Shake Off Shame

by Alycia W. Morales

Warning: I'm going to be very open in this post and talk about things younger women/teens may not need to read. I will not be vulgar, but I will be straightforward. You've been warned.

Today I opened my inbox to discover a post from Jeff Goins entitled "Shame Is Something We Learn." It caught my attention, because just a year ago or so, I had an intense Twitter convo with a woman over the definition of shame. It all started when I began tweeting against Planned Parenthood as part of a campaign. At the time, Planned Parenthood was teaching teenagers to experiment with BDSM. And now, we have 50 Shades of Grey to continue the promotion that these things are normal and acceptable... I think of that conversation often. And I think of how she felt it was normal for victims of sexual abuse or rape to feel shame. As if they should cling to it.

In my humble opinion, shame isn't something we should own or wear when it is inflicted by someone else. Date rape came up in that conversation. And I argued that the victim of date rape should not feel ashamed of what has happened to her. Here's why I feel that way:

The definition of shame is this: a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, short-coming, or impropriety. It's a condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute. It's something that brings censure or reproach, also something to be regretted.

According to the definition, it's an emotion we feel when we are conscious of guilt, short-coming, or impropriety. When I read this, it tells me that I should feel shame when I do something I know goes against my moral values. On purpose. Or maybe on accident. It's something I feel when I sin. When I wrong God or someone else or even myself.

But certainly not something I should feel if someone else wrongs me. I'd be saying, "Shame on you!"

As I mentioned in my previous post, I felt shame when I had many relationships with men and ended up having an abortion.

What I didn't mention was that I've also felt ashamed of something else for many years. Something I haven't whispered to my mother, my sister, or my Pastor's wife. I've only told one friend. One. And my husband. No one else. But in the transparency of uncovering the lie that we should feel shame over things that have happened to us, been forced upon us, been done against our right-minded consent, I will share it with you.

Let me begin by saying this: It's only been recently that God has brought the truth of this matter into His light for me. It's another step in my healing process. And healing is a process, so I wouldn't expect someone else (you) to be completely healed and set free the instant you read my testimony. Although that would be wonderful, and I would applaud God for it. And He could do it. What I would like for you is to consider allowing God to remove the brand of shame from your heart and allow you to walk in the freedom of knowing that what has happened to you does not make you who you are or taint you.

One afternoon when I was a freshman in college, the guy I was dating showed up at my dorm-room door. With three of his friends. Because he threatened to make a scene if I didn't let them in, and I hate to draw negative attention to myself, I let him in. You can imagine what happened next. He and his friends would say I consented to it, but I never said I wanted to do anything with these guys. This is a guy who had "just kidding"-ly held a knife to my throat at one time before that afternoon. Knowing he carried that with him, I wasn't about to try to fight anyone off. I'd rather been "shamed" than dead. Needless to say, that relationship ended quickly.

Do I have anything to be ashamed of? Opening the door because I didn't want to cause a scene? Being gang raped because I feared for my life if I should try to turn them out? I didn't ask for what I got that day. It wasn't "my fault." And I refuse to take ownership of their actions or the shame Satan would try to brand me with.

I have repented for agreeing to date the guy in the first place. I have repented for having a sexual relationship with him prior to that day. Those are my sins. Those are to my shame.

But his choice to bring his buddies by and have their way with me? That I take no responsibility for. He and his friends will have to answer to God for that one day. Shame on them...

See, shame isn't something someone else should be able to pin on us, forcing us to wear it like a name tag. Someone else's sin isn't our burden to wear. It isn't something we should adopt as our identity. It should never define who we are.

Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed;
Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame;
For you will forget the shame of your youth,
And will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore.
For your Maker is your husband,
The Lord of hosts is His name;
And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel;
He is called the God of the whole earth.
Isaiah 54:4-5

Instead, we need to put on our identity in God, the Father. Our maker. The One who calls us by name, who knew us before He fearfully and wonderfully created us in our mother's womb. We need to label ourselves Redeemed by the Holy One of Israel. Covered in the blood of Jesus. Once scarlet, now white as snow. Once captive, now free. Saved by grace. Beloved. These are the words that define us when we accept Jesus as our Savior and enter into a relationship with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

And as the years go by, we remember what happened to us, but we learn that we don't have to let it define who we are. And we let Jesus heal that wound inflicted against us. And we gain the courage and the strength to stand up and say, "I will not be ashamed." And we are enabled to forgive, even if we don't forget. Because forgiving someone doesn't mean we condone what they did to us. But it frees them from the prison of our hearts and makes room for God to come in and fill us with His love.

Are you allowing shame to keep you from living? You don't have to. {Click to Tweet}

Why We Shouldn't Feel Ashamed Because We Were Abused {Click to Tweet}

The following are a few of the books I've read that have been a huge help in my healing process:
Not Marked by Mary DeMuth
The Day I Met Jesus by Mary DeMuth and Frank Viola
Captivating by Stasi and John Eldredge


  1. Thank you for being so brave and joining in this conversation. You are right, Alycia. There is no way that date rape should ever be associated with shame, but my prayer is that your honest post will reach someone today. She may not leave a comment. She may sit in her home, tears running down her face because someone finally put into words what she couldn't say. I'm so sorry this happened to you. I'm so thankful God heals the wounds in our heart.

  2. I am sorry this happened to you and I am glad you have been able to find healing and are able to encourage others. Shame thrives in secrecy and you are shining light into the darkness. #live free

  3. I am sorry this happened to you and I am glad you have been able to find healing and are able to encourage others. Shame thrives in secrecy and you are shining light into the darkness. #live free

  4. I'm so sorry this happened Alycia! But thank you for sharing! I pray that your braveness in sharing will comfort other women who are living in shame.

    And I love the distinction that we should not live under shame at all, but especially not shame from other's wrong actions.

    Love you.


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