“YOU TOOK AWAY MY WORTH!”
The headlines screamed at me and caused me to slow down and do “a double take.” I am sure most of us have heard or read about the story of the sexual assault of the unconscious young lady by a Stanford student. The story has caused outrage and division among people as to what is fair and right punishment. What I find so disturbing from this entire event is the fact that the young lady who was assaulted now believes she has no worth….no value…no voice.
The demeaning assault made against her has formed a dark shroud of shame over her. “Emily Doe” has now become intimately acquainted with dishonor, humiliation and mortification. And by her own words, she emphatically states, “the damage is done, and no one can undo it.”
This saddens me because I know so many believe that shameful experiences have the power to define who we are as a person. For sure, traumatic events come into our lives uninvited and they can be devastating, but there is something we can do with them. There is someone who can “undo it.” Those harrowing and painful things done to us CAN be remedied.
Shameful events can and do happen to all of us – some are mild like bullying or name-calling, but others are deeply distressing and crippling. There are forces of darkness that want us to believe that we are the only ones who suffer with these issues and that it is unchangeable. This is simply not true.
Too often our sin and emotional baggage gets linked to what we believe about ourselves. In other words, our personality and identity becomes associated with the things we struggle with.
The strategy of the enemy is for us to believe that we actually “are” how we feel or behave, which is not true at all. Satan wants you to believe things like: you “are” depressed, unhappy, worthless, unable to change, stupid, a failure…the list could go on and on. It is important to realize that our feelings and behavior are situational and we can change them. The truth is feelings and behavior are not who we really are. They might be things that we struggle with, but they are not our identity, or who we are in Christ.
This includes the things that you may think about yourself at a deep level. You might not consciously recognize them, but you find yourself thinking them or saying them about yourself on a regular basis.
I have counseled and ministered to many young girls and women who have been sexually abused, trafficked and molested. All of them come away with a sense that their inward self is fatally flawed and that something is intrinsically wrong with them. I heard repeatedly the fact that they believed they were damaged or defective on many levels within themselves. I remember one sweet teenage girl had literally carved in her leg the words, “I deserve to die.” Her belief that she was deeply flawed led her to the conclusion that death was the only escape from her torment. I am happy to report that this same girl is now a young woman who is living a life of peace, and joy because she has finally found her true value in the eyes of God. The intense belief of shame can be consuming and excruciating because there seems to be no hope in reversing its condition. In my humble opinion, it is the worst feeling ever experienced by mankind.
When someone is walking in deep shame, it becomes a wall that separates them from others. The very people whom you desire a connection with are the ones that are blocked access into your true self. I believe shame is a tool forged by the hand of our greatest adversary, Satan. With it, he wields blows against our self-worth and knocks us down to levels that are near impossible to rise up again. Shame then becomes a barrier that has the power to prevent us from experiencing the love and destiny that God has designed for us as individuals.
All the modern therapy of the day will not be able to permeate the layers of shame and reach ones core identity unless they turn to the One who created them. It is what we do with the events themselves, that determines if and how we can overcome them. When you allow yourself to be fully known by the God who created you, you can be fully loved. And isn’t that what all of mankind desperately craves – to be loved?!?
As we understand that at the very core of our shame, we have lost our dignity, we can begin to ask our heavenly Father to reassemble the pieces of our identity. Our true self can resurface and restoration is possible. All the fragmented pieces of our soul are able to be re-assembled back together into wholeness. True restoration results from being molded by the Word within, rather than the world without.
I keep a piece of paper in my bible that has the following statements regarding my heavenly Father. This is what I am convinced of:
He restores my soul – Psalm 23
He heals my soul – Isaiah 61
He keeps my soul – Psalm 121
He knows and understand my soul – Psalm 139
He allows my soul to live – Psalm 119:175
He will not allow my soul to be destroyed – Psalm 16:10
He converts and changes my soul – Psalm 19:7
Once we understand who God is and we see His character and nature, we can begin to see who we are. God does not change and He is not a liar. What He has promised, He will accomplish. When we realize that our lives have the ability to be wrapped up in the bundle of HIS life, we can walk out of shame and recapture our dignity.
I think we can all see our world is struggling with a severe case of identity crisis. There is so much confusion. Am I a woman? Or a man? Children are questioning which bathroom to use in school and the very fabric of our society is becoming frayed. Our culture, perhaps parents, or friends, tell us who we are based on our actions. “I drink excessively, therefore, I am an alcoholic. I have killed therefore, I am a murderer.” Or maybe words spoken over you “You will never amount to anything.” You are good for nothing, I wish you had not been born.”
Our thinking has been shaped by our environment, the world systems, and the art, music, and literature around us. Some of us have received more identity from the world, flesh and devil than we have from the kingdom of God.
Religion calls us a sinner – God calls us a saint. Our parents may have called us illegitimate but God says you are my son and my daughter.
What we desperately need is a lens change – a change of perspective
In the bible, knowledge is about experience. Not merely hearing something but, believing a truth to the point where it changes you and your behavior. Our thoughts line up with God’s word and who HE says we are and we receive His truth as the final word.
When we come out of “this world” and into the Kingdom of God – we need to realize that the mindset of the Kingdom is counter culture to the things of this world – to the mind of Christ. A Kingdom mindset thinks the opposite way of the world.
We are not capable of fully existing inside of God’s love and power until we fully understand who we are. The great news is, things in the past do not have to negatively affect our present or future. I beg you dear reader, dive into God’s word. Believe every word and allow His thoughts and plans to wash over you and cleanse your soul.
We need to “re-frame” our thinking into an alliance with Christ and what He says: the renewal of our thinking is the essence of transformation – Romans 12:2
Upgrading our identity in Jesus requires 3 things:
- Receiving God’s perspective of who you are IN HIM
- Adjusting our thinking in line with His thoughts over us
- (MOST IMPORTANT) Using the same language over ourselves that the Lord God does – so that our confession, declaration and proclamation expands our territory or inheritance in the Holy Spirit.
I have prayed countless times for the young victim named “Emily Doe.” I pray she realizes she doesn’t have to be a victim forever. She has an opportunity to be an over-comer…an over-comer of shame, pain and loss. I pray she realizes what the selfish young Stanford boy did to her doesn’t have to remain imprinted on her body and soul. She can walk out and regain her dignity and self-worth.
Listen! Can you hear it? There is One crying out…lift up your ears and hear the voice of Him who is calling out through the darkness of injury and agony…. “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
In the Power of His Love – Lisa