Brene Brown

The Trap of Shame


Brene Brown defines shame as "the fear of disconnection.” It’s the fear that asks “is there something about me that if other people know it or see it I won’t be worthy of connection?”

I don’t know if the church talks enough about the power of shame to ruin our relationship with Christ.

Sin separates us from God but shame traps us in hiding.

After Adam and Eve ate the fruit they realized they made a horrible mistake. First they tried to hide themselves from each other by making some clothes. Then they tried to hide from God. Which was…a dumb move. How can you hide from God? But when you’re in a shame panic you’re not thinking.

Here’s the real question: WHY would they try to hide from God? Answer: Because they were afraid of how He would react. That’s why we hide anything from anyone. We don’t want to see them flip out, get angry, break down crying, or start uncontrollably anger vomiting (people do that, right?).

Eventually they come out of hiding and face up to God. They spill the beans on their sin, waiting and wincing at what might come next. He had EVERY RIGHT to turn His back, reject, destroy them, and start over. But the first words out of God were words of love.

“I’m going to fix this.”


The Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this,
    cursed are you above all livestock
    and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
    and dust you shall eat
    all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
    and you shall bruise his heel.”


Genesis 3:15 is known as the protoevangelium, the first gospel. It’s the first time Jesus is mentioned in the Bible. God is saying “sin has separated man from me but through a descendant of Eve I will bring reconciliation.”

That’s how God responds.

It makes the hiding seem like a waste of time, right? They were just putting off an encunter with God’s love and grace.

Shame traps us in hiding.

We think there’s something about us that if it were to ever come out, it would be impossible for Jesus to love us. So we hide. And yeah, the thing we're hiding might be terrible and wrong and destructive to our life, but how is hiding going to fix it? It’s not a real solution. We're just putting off the consequences until later. We're making it a problem for Future Us to deal with.

You can’t deal with a problem unless you admit the problem exists. You can’t hear “I’m going to fix this” until you come out of hiding and admit that something’s broken.

I don’t have to be afraid of God’s reaction. There’s nothing in my life that would ever make me unlovable to Him. I can’t surprise Him. He won’t change His mind about me. He said He loves me, He’ll forgive me, He’ll heal me, and He’ll give me new life. There’s nothing I can do that would make Him take it back.

And that’s truly wild. Because I HORRIBLE on my own. He has every right to abandon me. But His grace is more than enough. I don’t deserve it. He just offers it because of who He is.

So why hide? What good is that doing? Step out into the light. Open up.

This is true about Christ and it’s also who He designed the church to be. The church is supposed to represent Christ on Earth. You want to see how Jesus responds to your brokenness and shame? Look to the church. Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to be.

Find someone who represents Christ that you trust and take that first brave step into the light.

There’s nothing you can bring to the light that is too big and can’t be covered by God’s grace.

A Great Book for Young Adult Ministries

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Over the last 6 months I’ve been reading as much as I can to prepare for my new tour. I want this comedy show to act as an outreach for the church or ministry hosting. I want to talk about confession, and why we need to be open and honest about what we’re going through. AND on top of all that I want to be able to train leaders and volunteers on how to handle those tough conversations when someone is opening up for the first time.

One of the books that has been the most help is When Your Twenties are Darker than You Expected by Paul C. Maxwell. Each chapter walks through difficulties we can face like depression, regret, loneliness, anxiety, lust, doubt, and suicide. Maxwell does such a great job unpacking what these experiences look like specifically in your 20s.

It’s a great combination of thorough academic research and personal vulnerability.

In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown says “shame hates when we reach out to tell our story. It hates having words wrapped around it —it can’t survive being shared. Shame loves secrecy.”

That quote helped me realize one of Maxwell’s greatest strengths in writing. He is so good at wrapping the perfect words around the darkness. He articulates what the experience feels like and takes the shame out of it so you can begin to deal with it.

“Depression is an entire arsenal of concrete shoes, fixing you to the ground, letting you witness the world but not participate.”

“Regret is the closest emotional synonym we have for the word ‘scar.’”

I think everyone ministering to young adults should have this book in their office. It gives a ton of insight, wisdom, and points you to a lot of other great resources in the footnotes.

I don’t know how to transition here but I just want to share one of my other favorite quotes from the book.

In the chapter on dealing with lust Maxwell says, “There is no higher way to value a human being than to regard their relationship with God as your highest priority.” And I think that’s just a beautiful mindset to have when it comes to lust.

I’m giving away 10 free copies of this book to young adult pastors and ministry directors who fill out a quick survey. DO IT!