Why Shame Isn’t Good for You

The teacher scowled down her nose at two seven year old boys. “You should be ashamed. Why don’t you look ashamed?”

The smaller boy, who’d grow up and become my husband, tugged his ear, “I don’t know how to look ashamed.”

The freedom that comes from being loved!(1) (1)Whether we know the look of shame or not, most of us know its searing pain.

In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown tells the story of a conversation a woman had with her neighbor that encapsulates the risk of exposing our flaws. When the woman revealed that she was a recovering alcoholic, her neighbor said, “Well, I’m not sure I feel comfortable with my kids playing at your house any more.”

The first woman swallowed hard, took a deep breath, and said, “Your children have been playing at my house for two years. I’ve been sober for over twenty years. I haven’t changed in the last ten minutes. Why have you?”

This story shows why we carefully hide our shortcomings under cloaks of knowledge, professionalism,  humor, kindness, perfectionism, and accomplishments. We strive to impress God with our busyness. If fellow strugglers can’t handle our faults, how could a holy God embrace our unvarnished nakedness?

Sadly, some religious teachers and well meaning parents mistakenly believe shame and guilt will make us holy. In reality, shame fosters addictions, bullying, isolation, and hypocrisy.

On the other hand, Jesus startles us with grace. He tells the woman caught in the act of adultery that He doesn’t condemn her. He reveals a holy God’s hatred of sin but unconditional love for flawed humans in a few simple words, “Go and sin no more.” Jesus is the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for us.

Think about your struggles and the times you’ve failed. Now read these amazing words from God to you:

26 The Spirit helps us in our weakness…the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 …the Spirit intercedes for God’s people…

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose…

—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? … 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons neither the present nor the future…nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:26-39 NIV).

In light of the above passage, consider these questions:

  • How does the Spirit respond to you in your weaknesses (v. 26-27)?
  • How does God redeem your failings (v. 28)?
  • What member of the Godhead condemns you (v. 31-34)?
  • Where is God’s love when you mess up (v. 35-39)?

When we confess our faults to Jesus, He points to the cross. “Yep, I covered that one too. I promise I’ll take the sin, disappointment, and pain you’ve given to me and use it for your eternal good and the good of all who love Me. Now go, in the power of the Spirit, and live like My royal heir. Share My transforming love with others.”

If you believed these Scriptures applied to you and your failures how would it change the way you lived? The way you treated others? They do apply to you and me. Now let’s stop being ashamed. Let’s let Jesus lift us up to be more than we ever thought we could be.

I value your thoughts. Click here to comment. And if you enjoyed this post, please share the love with your friends!


Debbie W. Wilson


The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown

Give Yourself a Break: Discover the Secrets to God’s Rest by Debbie W. Wilson

You Raise Me Up — Seleh song on Youtube

Sometimes I link to the following great sites:

Titus Tuesday, Reflect link up, Turn it up Tuesdays, #TestimonyTuesday, #IntentialTuesday, #TuesTalk, #Tell it to me Tuesdays, #w2wwordfilledwednesday, #Wedded Wednesday, #Women with Intention,  #LivefreeThursday, #WordswithWinter, #Grace and Truth


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  1. Jane Wolfe

    I hope you are loving Brene Brown as much as I do. Her shame research changed my life. You always Refresh my faith!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Jane! I am enjoying her book very much.

  2. Sandi

    I really appreciate your thoughts and the topics you discuss. Today’s email was very helpful for me. Thank you.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Sandi. I’m glad it was helpful. I love Romans 8.

  3. Sandi B


    Thanks for these words of encouragement. They point me boldly back to God and give me verses to combat Satan!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Sandi. Did you see the link to the song?

  4. Diane

    This is very powerful — thanks for the reflection on the Word

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Diane. This passage is amazing, isn’t it?

  5. Ann

    Shame is absolutely crippling and I just love the scriptures you shared here – some of my all time favorites!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Mine too, Ann.

  6. Pam

    This is excellent, Debbie! Shame seems to be an ever present lurking enemy that seeks to overtake us on far too many occasions, causing us to forget we are forgiven and covered by His shed blood and extended grace for what we have failed to be or do as well as what we did or were that we should not have been.

    Thanks so much!

    Blessings on your day!

    • Debbie Wilson

      God bless you too, Pam. And thanks so much.

  7. bluecottonmemory

    It grieves my heart when other Christians try to throw our sins back on us – bury us under shame so we cannot bask in the redemption, salvation and mighty love God offers us. You make such good points – and your photo is just pure joy!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Maryleigh. I loved that photo too!

  8. Liz

    Jesus startles us with grace. YES!!! Thanks for your words. #w2wwordfilledwednesday

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Liz!

  9. Beth

    What a heartbreaking portrait you’ve painted for us by starting off with your husband’s experience as a young boy. When shame enters the picture, for all intents and purposes, I believe we all feel like a frightened and confused little child–unsure how to make things right again. Thankfully, our Savior has made everything right for us. Now we can walk in the comfort of His grace and the purity of His blood covering our sins. Beautiful message today, Debbie! And one that I’ll be sharing!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Yes, Beth, I’m very thankful that our Savior has washed us clean. Thank you for reading and sharing!

  10. Lexie Robinson

    Thanks for posting! I think shame is a direct consequence of The Fall.

    God bless!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Lexie, I agree. The consequences of the fall certainly affect all of creation.

  11. Lori Schumaker

    Hi Debbie, I am reading “The Gifts of Imperfection” right now! So many takeaways – highlight after highlight! Shame is such an important topic. It one so many of us either have, do, or will struggle with. This was a wonderful post! I’m praying it speaks truth into many!
    Blessings and smiles,

    • Debbie Wilson

      That’s great, Lori! I’m enjoying it a lot. Blessing on you.

  12. Gayl

    Yes! Nothing can separate us from the love of God. He waits with open arms to forgive us when we fail. He showers us with his grace and we need not be ashamed. I love the passage of scripture you shared. Thank you for this beautiful reminder of God’s love. I love that Selah song and I’ve heard good things about Brene Brown, so I may have to find that book.
    I’m your neighbor at Words With Winter.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Gayl. I appreciate your ministry in writing too.

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