If it was possible for shame to have shape, form and color it would be a horrendous ugly, smelly, dark, fungating mass of darkness. Unfortunately the Christian Faith and church has historically used shame and fear to “motivate” people into behaving. This is how we got books like “The Scarlet Letter,” that display acts of shaming those deemed as sinners. In the USA we still shame people but it less a problem than 200 years ago. But the even bigger problem is the shame we place on ourselves. Many of us walk around as self shamers.
It has brought forth the question in me how do I know the difference between conviction from the Holy Spirit and shame? I do not want to be infested with shame but I also believe that conviction by the Holy Spirit is a real thing and a healthy part of Christian growth. So what is the difference?
I am not an expert but this is how I distinguish between the two. When I experience conviction from the Holy Spirit I normally feel a sense of urgency to deal with the sin. I admit to God the sin and ask for his forgiveness. I ask for his help to walk away from the sin. If it is a repetitive sin I am having difficulty not repeating then I turn to a trusted friend, pastor or counselor to help with overcoming temptations. These people can also help with accountability. In this place of repentance and turning from the sin there is hope, freedom and happiness. All positive emotions. All good things that lead to moving forward in life.
Now shame typically leads to inability to admit or talk about the issue because of the guilt/shame. Instead of leading to freedom and Hope, the shame leads to worsening of your image of self, inability to move forward in life and overall dark emotions. People have various ways of dealing with shame which are all typically unhealthy. Shame is the opposite of conviction by the Holy Spirit. Shame never leads to freedom.
Shame is an ugly beast that is often hard to conquer. Professional counseling is often needed. If you struggle with shame, seek help. God does not desire anyone to walk around carrying the shame beast. It’s a weight no one is meant to carry. Amen.