The story of Naaman shows us that God’s approval is able to heal our shame.
Today we look at the relationship between God’s approval and shame. Then I’ll offer 5 steps to help you apply this learning to your own life.
So let’s look at shame:
In my last post I shared of how, as a young girl, I was ashamed of my freckles. They made me different from my friends. In fact on one occasion a girl in my class at school, called me ‘Heinze baked beans face’. I was crushed.
The feeling of disgust towards a part of me arose. I tried everything to hide them, get rid of them or cover them up.
GOD’S APPROVAL HEALS SHAME
Have you ever been in that situation where shame dominates you? Experts say we don’t overcome shame, we find approval or acceptance for the very thing we’re ashamed of.
The way we deal this, according to Scripture, is to receive God’s approval of you just as you are. Because when we do that, we find the empowerment to embrace or befriend the very thing we’re running away from.
As a counsellor, I see shame played out in many unconscious ways. SEE GOD LOOKS AT THE HEART. WHY SHAME HINDERS HEALING
Shame releases a cortisol into our bodies amplifying our symptoms and hindering healing. But wearing a mask like perfectionism or people pleasing also causes us to operate from a stress state.
When we feel shame, our bodies go into toxic stress….. Your heart will beat faster, the cortisol and adrenaline will be there…..Shame creates neurochemical chaos in your brain…” Caroline Leaf
This is not how God wants us to live; it’s not his design. Naaman needed to receive God’s unconditional love and approval from a place of authenticity, and ‘bare all’ before the healing took place.
The more we realise He is the source of our self-worth, those masks begin to lessen. This is how the shame loses it’s grip on our lives.
1. RECEIVE GOD’S APPROVAL
You may know in your head that God loves and accepts you, but do you receive this Truth in your heart?
In my opinion, it’s more a matter of us continuing to grow in the following areas:
- the love of God
- what Jesus has already done for us
- the power of the Holy Spirit
and as we gain a deeper revelation of his transformative love, our masks gradually get less and less.
He embraces every part of us. He doesn’t wait for us to improve ourselves. You see it’s not really a matter of us ‘cleaning up our act’ or ‘sorting something out’ before God heals.
Christ makes you worthy. Just as we are forgiven for His names sake, we qualify for God’s healing and acceptance for His name’s sake. John 2:12
The Israelites had to deal with the shame of their past for hundreds of years because they didn’t have the Holy Spirit living in them. They had to wait for God to heal them from it.
Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the shame of your slavery…” Joshua 5:9
Because of the Cross, you and I are accepted just as we are, true naked authenticity.
2. RECOGNISE YOUR PRETENSE
Naaman hated his leprosy and covered it up with worldly ranking. He believed his position could earn acceptance and healing but it was this mask that hindered him.
Naaman wanted God to heal with all his pretense but God wanted him to realise that He was already enough. Like Naaman, are you hiding your authenticity because you’re listening to shame?
We see God’s desire for authenticity when he encounters the Syrophoencian woman. She initially called Jesus ‘Son of David’, despite having no right to use such a term.
Jesus made out he didn’t hear her. He was waiting for her to show herself as she really is – a non Jew. He was waiting for authenticity.
Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely demon-possessed.” But He did not answer her with even a word.
Jesus showed this woman God’s approval of her. You see it wasn’t God who shamed or rejected the gentiles, it was the ‘rules’, the ‘restrictions’, or the ‘law’.
God is waiting for you and I to ‘take off our masks’. Just like Naaman when he took of all his prestigious clothes, when he entered into the Jordan.
What image are you projecting to the world? Are you pretending you have a extroverted personality because you think this gains popularity?
Do you think that productivity equals success? Or a certain lifestyle?
Are you chasing certain people because you think if they acknowledge you, this will give you status? (We see this in church life all the time).
For more support, read GOD LOOKS AT THE HEART. WHY SHAME HINDERS HEALING
There is no need to hide anything from our perfect Father in Heaven. He knows us and accepts us as we are.
3. OWN YOUR VULNERABILITY
God accepts Naaman without all the charades. If you remember Jesus radically touching the leper and ‘immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy’. Matt 5.
The leper knew of his condition but came to Jesus with no pretence. Likewise, God is waiting for us to approach Him with no charades.
God wants the real you to shine. Not the programmed you that projects a certain image to those in your world. To me, the healing journey is one of discovering who you really are.
This is the person the God saw when He laid the foundation of the world.
In my opinion, He doesn’t heal you into something you’re not. He heals you back into the person you really are. This is true authenticity.
When we were very young children, we had no filter. We cried, screamed, got angry, laughed, ….there was no need to be strong, perfect or good all the time.
We didn’t deal with shame because we had no shame. But then we learnt that the real us wasn’t accepted. So we changed ourselves to fit in to the world around us. This is how we survived.
Oftentimes we think shame is what we feel when we’ve done something wrong. But, SHAME COMES IN WHEN WE ADOPT SOMEONE ELSE’S VOICE ABOVE OUR OWN
(Image: Rebekah Ballagh Journey to Wellness)
We begin to heal when we acknowledge God’s approval above the voice of the world around us. This is where shame is quite deceptive and unconscious. We need the Holy Spirit’s help!
See DO YOU FEEL ASHAMED OF YOUR ILLNESS? HERE’S WHY
4. SIT WITH YOUR DISCOMFORT
Shame won’t survive when you name it, feel it and yet be on the receiving end of an understanding and a non judgemental attitude.
This is one reason why counselling is so effective. Sometimes for the first time, the real authentic person is heard and accepted. As believers, you and I have direct access to the Counsellor.
The Holy Spirit already knows who you already are. If there is a gap between who you really are and who you think you are, He will lead and guide you on your journey back to yourself.
“But shame is like a wound that is never exposed and therefore never heals.” Andreas Eschbach
When you experience God’s unconditional love and approval, you gain an empowerment to take off all those masks and embrace the wounds that hold you back.
When you embrace the Holy Spirit, you can sit with your discomfort and be ok with it, without feeling the need to wear a mask.
5. TAKE SHAME TO THE CROSS
Jesus went through absolute humiliation when he was crucified. Soldiers spat in his face and plucked the hairs of his beard. ‘I did not hide My face from shame and spitting’ Is 50:6
The crowds jeered and mocked him, shouting obscenities, and watched as he tried to carry the cross. He hung completely naked to his death, in front of all.
He did this for you. For the joy of your salvation, healing and freedom.
For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame. Heb 12:2
The Spirit in you heals all your shame. The Christ in you, as a born-again believer, is greater than any mistake, failing, character flaw, weakness or whatever it is you’re covering up.
Jesus carried your shame. This is the divine exchange. Can you exchange your shame for God’s acceptance?
See ARE YOU CLOTHED IN CHRIST OR CLOTHED IN SICKNESS?
“God puts glory and favour on us and it’s so overwhelming that it swallows up any shame” Joseph Prince.
Can you imagine the difference it would make if we all allowed who we are in Christ to swallow up any perceived messages from childhood or society telling us we’re not enough?
If we focused more on the Cross and resurrection of Jesus, than any weakness or failing. YOU HAVE ABSOLUTE PERMISSION TO REMOVE YOUR MASKS AND BE YOURSELF.
If we took advantage of the freedom we have in Christ to be who He says we are, our essential selves. The Bible says that when you believe in him ‘you will never be put to shame’ Ps 25:3
I hope you have found this useful, I encourage you to take a read of the other posts on Naaman
DOES GOD HEAL UNBELIEVERS? (PART 2)