My Freedom “Song” – Healing From Guilt and Shame

In honor of Easter and all that it represents for believers – the selfless death of our Saviour, Jesus, to pay for our sins and His resurrection from the grave to give us new life FREE from the consequences of our sin – I wanted to share some of my personal freedom “song”….specifically my journey to heal from my struggles with guilt and shame.

I’ve struggled with body image and disordered eating for more than 20 years. Body image and weight issues run deep in my family and I got the message (directly and indirectly) early on that the way I look, the shape and size of my body, and the way I take care of myself give me identity and value. While the intentions of those around me were good, I interpreted the message to be that I wasn’t “right” the way I was and that my worth as a person and my happiness in life was very much tied to my outward appearance. The problem was that no matter what size I was, I was never deemed just right (and now know there is no standard definition for just right as it differs for each person). I was “too much” of one thing or “not enough” of another. While I focused primarily on my body, I also struggled to be comfortable and accepting of my personality. I’m naturally sensitive and feel things deep in my core. My natural inclination is to wear my heart on my sleeve and this isn’t comfortable for everyone. I found myself in limbo constantly struggling to find the middle ground where I would finally be pleasing and acceptable. On top of this, I experienced several events in my middle and high school years that left me feeling hurt and abandoned. It seemed the people I loved and needed the most left me when I was at my most vulnerable moments. I internalized it all and started to believe that the circumstances I was going through were because there was something wrong with me or a result of something I had done. If I was different, maybe I would be more acceptable and people would love me more. My response was to pull inward, try to take things in my own control, hide who I really was and not let others in. I turned to the one thing I knew (or thought) I could control – my body. I learned to use my body as a tool. As something to create an identity around. As something to be known for. Or, as a way to be a “somebody” when I felt unnoticed or like a “nobody.” I was eventually diagnosed with anorexia and depression and while I received treatment for both at the time, there have been lasting effects.

I’ve been in and out of therapy many times but my body image and eating issues have been the seemingly ever-present thorns in my side that wax and wan in intensity but never seem to go away. I started back up in counseling in the fall with the desire to finally tackle my issues head on and attempt to get to the real root of the problem. As I worked with my therapist to unpack my past and dig deeper into the feelings and emotions that I’ve buried, I was having a hard time identifying where it all started and couldn’t seem to put words to how I felt or why I did what I did.

Then, one Sunday at church in the fall of 2016, the worship leader prayed that the song we were about to sing would speak to everyone where they’re at. The word “shame” appeared on the screen and practically jumped out at me. Then, the very next day one of my favorite podcasts was on the topic of dealing with guilt and shame. I felt God speaking to me that it was guilt and shame that I have felt for all these years and I’d been hiding behind them. I took this revelation to my next counseling appointment and we quickly got to work going deeper into what made me feel that way and how I acted as a result.

Guilt and shame are two of the most powerful emotions that hold us back from being who God designed us to be! So many of us are tormented by guilt and shame over things that happen to us in the past or things we have done (or still do!). Guilt and shame kept me from sharing myself. They created a veil that I hid behind. I bottled up the real me, the girl and woman God created me to be, and kept her from everyone around me. I didn’t reveal her because I was afraid of rejection. Afraid of not being accepted. Afraid of not being loved. I hid how I felt. I didn’t speak up for myself. I didn’t advocate for what I wanted or needed. I allowed others to use me and mistreat me. I took it all because I didn’t feel worthy of anything different. I kept very tight control on my life and what others could see of it. I kept myself at a distance emotionally even from the ones I loved the most because if they really knew me, there’s no way they could love me.

By the grace of God and a lot of hard work and introspection on my part, the Lord has blessed me with a newfound freedom to be ME! I’ve dropped the chains of guilt and shame that have shackled me for so long. I’ve finally been able to open up, share my story, be vulnerable and transparent even when it’s not comfortable or when it’s scary. To be the mess I am without judgment and shame. To allow my emotions to shine through and to speak up for myself. As the song “Freedom” goes (included below), I’m free to dance and sing! And what have I learned through it all? That the Lord is FAITHFUL and that He can restore even the most broken. That He created us each with a unique identity, story, and life that is WORTH living and worth sharing because our stories of brokenness and humanness shine the light on our deep need for an all-powerful, loving, grace and truth filled Lord. That He has already paid for my sins on the cross and there is no room for condemnation when in the presence of Jesus. It is only through our brokenness that we can see our need for Him and also connect in real and meaningful ways with others who are on their own life journey.

I openly admit that I’m not healed of all of my issues, but I joyfully stand in freedom from the guilt and shame that plagued me for so long. Freedom and healing is a lifelong ride with the final destination being heaven. I’ve only written a few verses of my freedom song but I am confident that the Lord will continue to direct me until the end.

Since music speaks so powerfully to me, I can’t help but share three songs that have moved me in this on this specific topic.

 

Hillsong’s rendition of Darlene Zschech’s song “At The Cross”

Oh Lord you’ve searched me,

You know my way

Even when I fail You,

I know You love me.

 

Your holy presence

Surrounding me

In every season,

I know You love me,

I know You love me.

 

At the cross I bow my knee,

Where Your blood was shed for me,

There’s no greater love than this.

You have overcome the grave,

Your glory fills the highest place,

What can separate me now?

 

You go before me,

You shield my way,

Your hand upholds me

I know You love me.

 

At the cross I bow my knee,

Where Your blood was shed for me,

There’s no greater love than this.

You have overcome the grave,

Your glory fills the highest place,

What can separate me now?

 

You tore the veil, You made a way

When You said that it is done.

 

And when the earth fades,

Falls from my eyes,

And You stand before me,

I know You love me

I know You love me.

 

At the cross I bow my knee,

Where Your blood was shed for me,

There’s no greater love than this.

You have overcome the grave,

Your glory fills the highest place,

What can separate me now?

 

You tore the veil, You made a way

When You said that it is done.

 

 

Bethel Music’s song “Freedom”

 

You came to set the captives free

You came to bring us liberty

My sin and my rejection

Your blood and my acceptance

Now I’m alive to bring You praise

 

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom

Every chain is broken through You, Jesus

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom

 

Whoa oh, oh, oh

 

Your blood has covered every sin

Your grace empowers me to win

My pain and my oppression met

Your blood and my acceptance

Now I’m alive to bring You praise

 

I’m free I’m free, I’m free to dance and sing

I’m free, I’m free, I’m free to shout it out

I’m free, I’m free, I’m free to dance and sing

I’m free, I’m free, I’m free to worship You

I’m gonna worship you

 

Sovereign Grace’s song “He Who is Mighty” 

 

Oh, the mercy our God has shown

To those who sit in death’s shadow

The sun on high pierced the night

Born was the Cornerstone

 

Unto us a Son is given, unto us a Child is born

He Who is mighty has done a great thing

 

Taken on flesh, conquered death’s sting

Shattered the darkness and lifted our shame

Holy is His name

 

Oh, the freedom our Savior won

The yoke of sin has been broken

Once a slave, now by grace

No more condemnation

 

Now my soul magnifies the Lord

 

I rejoice in the God Who saves

I will trust His unfailing love

I will sing His praises all my days

 

 

There is so much value in sharing our stories with one another and I’d love to hear YOUR story, so please share in the comments section below!