Healthy vs Toxic Shame

“And hope does not put us to shame, because our God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” - Romans 5:5

The world defines shame as: “a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.” Everyone can recall a moment when we felt this shame, publicly, or privately. We all have a sinful nature and are prone to do something shameful in the world’s eyes. However, this feeling of shame was torn in two when Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, just like we were. Our heavenly Father has made a way for us to live entirely dependent on Him and move from a place of toxic shame to freedom.

In the book “Voice of the Heart,” author, Chip Dodd, draws a line in the sand between healthy and toxic shame. Explaining how healthy shame acknowledges our deep need for our heavenly Father and the people He has specifically placed in our lives for our growth and benefit. Living in acceptance of our neediness as humans allows us to live life to the full through the Holy Spirit. While healthy shame develops humility and dependence on our heavenly Father, He helps us reject the unhealthy shame of the world. Making room for Him to work in and through us.

We are at war on this earth. Our enemy uses toxic shame to work against us by stirring up contempt towards ourselves. Creating feelings of inadequacy or defectiveness in our intended design and purpose. As a result, we shut down and close ourselves off from the gift of allowing our heavenly Father to provide for us and work in and through our limitedness.

 However, when we accept the gift of healthy shame in our lives it also produces hope. By allowing ourselves to realize our limitedness and need for our heavenly Father, we are intentionally re-calibrating ourselves with True North. Where we are fully placing our hope in a perfect Father who will never put us to shame in a toxic way and provides everything we need on our journey with Him.

Calibration Questions:
- How does this perspective shift the way you view shame?
- Is the shame you experience in your life toxic or healthy?
- What are some areas of toxic shame where you need to realign your hope and give your needs to your heavenly Father?

Additional Readings:
“But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me” (2 Tim 4:16). This then he now predicts: “Through your supplication and the supply of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope,” For thus I do hope. For that, he may persuade us not to leave the whole matter to the prayers made for us, and contribute nothing to ourselves, behold how he lays down his own part, which is Hope, the source of all good, as the Prophet says. “Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according to as we have hoped in Thee” (Ps. 33:22). And as it is written in another place, “Look to the generations of old and see, did any one hope in the Lord, and was made ashamed?” (Eccles, 2:10) And again, this same blessed one says, “Hope putteth not to shame” (Rom. 5:5). This is Paul’s hope, hoping that I shall nowhere be put to shame.

“According to my earnest expectation and hope,” says he, “that in nothing shall I be put to shame.” Do you see how great a thing it is to hope in God?” Whatever happens, he says, I shall not be put to shame, i.e. they will not obtain the mastery over me, “but with all boldness, as always, so now also, Christ shall be magnified in my body.”

⁃From “Homily 3 on Philippians” by Saint Chrysostom

“Voice of the Heart” - Chip Dodd

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