God made us for connection. Connection is why we are here—it’s what makes life worth living. When you ask people about happiness and joy, they almost always move toward feelings of disconnection and loss. Why is it that when we bring up connection, the discussion always goes toward disconnection?
Brene Brown, in her famous TED talk on Vulnerability, says that “the big unnamed thing—the thing that unravels connection—is shame.” Shame is the fear of disconnection. Shame is that inward question we always ask but hate to admit about ourselves: “am I worthy of connection? Am I good looking enough? Am I smart enough? Am I strong enough?” No one wants to talk about it, but it’s the lingering question of our heart.
Shame undermines wholehearted connection. Shame is the fig leaf of Adam. We hide our heart from others and live half-hearted lives, begging to be loved, but unwilling to reveal what holds us back.
We can’t be wholehearted until we look shame in the face and say “imposter!” Vulnerability and honesty begin the unraveling of shame. Learning to face what shames us, admit what it is and confess it to someone is the breakthrough into new connections. Vulnerability about what shames us is the first step toward wholehearted living.
God says you are worthy of love and belonging. You are a chosen vessel for His glory. You are beloved. Wholehearted living begins when we face up to our shame, call it out and carry it into the light. Read and reread 2 Corinthians 4, until joy fills your heart. In my most shameful time, God opened up my heart as I studied this passage. The “manifestation of the truth” of my belovedness brought a breakthrough into joy and connection.
Breaking the power of shame,
Steve Holt M.A., D.D.
My newest book, Worshipper Warrior, can be found at www.steveholtonline.org