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.