How to Overcome Shame: The Potency of Story

by Abby Alleman on September 23, 2020

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 “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” Revelations 12:11 (ESV)

There are many ways to die of shame. But, there are even more ways to live without it. It’s my heart to help you choose life today.

A little over five years ago I nearly, truly died in a Hungarian mental ward. I was as weak as I’d ever been in my forty years of life. Although technically a wife and mother, I was not able to fulfill either of these treasured callings.

As I managed side effects of medicines for my newly diagnosed bipolar disorder, I heard God say, ‘I want you to share your story. The one you are living now.’

I was absolutely terrified. How could I be so vulnerable about this life with mental illness which seemed so shameful? In His kindness, God made sure I knew I had all of the time I needed. But he didn’t change His mind about what He wanted from me.

He wanted me to die to the secret, inward shame, so that, I could truly live. Because I was completely perfect in His eyes, through Jesus, I could find the courage to die to what others thought of me. With the telling of my story, God was redeeming the unbelievable levels of pain I had endured.

Not only was there no shame in the telling, as I remained completely perfect in His eyes, but I also gained a golden resilience which made me more and more ready to speak life and light into the darkness of shame itself.

Now, five years later, I recently signed a book contract to write my story, my journey with mental illness. Tens of thousands of words of my story bound and made for anyone to purchase. At times, I am still border-line or full-blown terrified, but when I feel afraid, I just keep writing, keep telling.

I love this verse in Psalm 34:5 (ESV):

“Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.”

The shame the Enemy wanted to use to keep me in fear, crumbling in the corner of life, barely hanging on, has been defeated through looking to the God of my story. Thus, I declare to the darkness that it cannot have me!

Shame goes back as far as that first fallen choice. Therefore, as God sets about to redeem this broken world, shame is one of the last enemies to be fought. If we, the people of God, can deal with our hidden shame by the honest, vulnerable telling of our stories, then this enemy doesn’t stand a chance.

We utterly overcome through the blood of the Lamb, that perfect one who stands in every gaping whole of our shame, both personal and collective, resolutely declaring, ‘No more!’ He holds us tenderly at any point when we are weary from the fight, and through that love, we find the strength to keep overcoming.

Friend, I don’t know where my words find you today. Are you dying of that awful cloaking shame, standing in the corner, broken, in the space of your life? Are a million seeming failures towering before you, leaving you cowering?

I offer you life, free of shame, through the God who treasures you and loves you beyond all description. No matter what place in the world you are, His love is right there along with His abiding presence. He has come to give you life and wants to bring all of your struggles into his healing light.

I know your struggles could be so deep, you see no way to fix them. I know there are things which could, at least for now, take you out of ministry as a missionary. And yes, that shame, it may be speaking the most perverse lies to you constantly, declaring itself king of your story.

But, He is ever greater. He is the light of the world, covering this whole planet with indestructible light, ‘upholding the universe by the word of His power.’ He is searching for you, wherever you are, to give you true life–the overcoming life.

Trust in Him in fresh ways today. He wants to take the full truth of your story and change the world through it, as he heals your shame. Let him, my friend, let Him.

You don’t have to put your story out there for the whole world to read and dissect. But, if you want the overcoming life, you need to find that one safe person and become vulnerable with them. There is barely a pain greater than the one of silent shame. Ask me how I know.

You are made for so much more.

And I am coming to you, from a rare dreary day in Florida, as someone who has both hidden in shame and overcome it through the telling of my story.

There is only one true choice. Choose the shame-free life today. I am cheering you on.

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About Abby Alleman

A farm girl at heart, Abigail (Abby) loves the surprising stories God writes. Since her first plane trip at the age of twenty landed her in Barcelona, Spain, Abby knew her life would never be the same. She holds degrees in both Math and Spanish and is a former high school teacher. She has served as a translator and short-term missionary in Latin America and inner city Philadelphia. But her most treasured journey is when her big dreams came crashing to the ground, when heartbreak and humility brought her home to her family, God and eventually right to her husband, Jared. They have worked with the student ministry of CRU for over ten years in both the U.S. and Hungary. She has three small kids and blogs her life and love of story at Abigail Alleman ( www.abigailalleman.com ).

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