My little cousin Kim often stayed with us when we were little. My mother once bought her a hooded shirt with a little elf emblem on the left chest. Our grandmother, who lived in my back yard, was not having it though. When she saw that little elf she thought it looked too much like a little devil so off it went, and was promptly replaced with a less ominous patch.
In her own way that day, our grandmother was insuring that Kim would not be carrying the enemy around with her. Does it seem like the enemy is always showing up in your day? I used to carry around a lot of guilt, shame and embarrassment over my past, and the enemy was happy to come along for the ride too. Over the past couple of years I’ve been trying to sort out these three moral emotions and the enemy’s tauntings over them. If you, too, are struggling over your past mistakes, I’ve got something tell you: The real source of guilt, shame and embarrassment is NOT you.
I had a funny thing happen to me a couple of years ago. I don’t mean funny as in humorous, but funny as in odd. I was watching a movie. Maybe you saw it, too. The title is You Again with Kristen Bell. Bell’s character, Marni, had become a successful professional despite being less than successful in high school. Actually, she describes herself as borderline ridiculous throughout the movie. High school can be awkward for some, and terribly awkward for the rest. You can probably relate.
The main character, Marni, has just learned that her beloved big brother has announced his engagement to Joana, Marni’s arch nemesis from high school. Joana had been a real mean girl, too. No wonder Marni was terribly upset at the thought of this person not only re-entering her life, but joining her safest place – the family unit. Understandably, Marni sets out to expose the bride and end the engagement.
Through a series of funny and haphazard events, not only do we learn more about Marni’s sources of guilt, shame and embarrassment, but surprisingly, we learn that Joana is trying to run from hers as well. Even mean girls can regret being mean girls.
I was enjoying the movie, as it was resonating with me. Everyone has similar stories from their high school years, whether they were the awkward ones, had friends who were the awkward ones or were the mean ones to the awkward ones. We all share some personal grief over those difficult years.
Like I said, I was enjoying the movie up until the scene of the rehearsal dinner. In the movie, there is an awkward scene of the bride’s ex-boyfriend giving a toast, and it was pathetic. You could not help but feel sorry for him, while at the same time, wishing he would sit down and be quiet. This is where this funny thing happened to me. While feeling embarrassed for this guy, a memory of me giving an awkward and awful toast at one of my friend’s weddings came bolting forward to the forefront of my mind. I had not been embarrassed about it before, but now – ten years later – for whatever reason I was suddenly mortified over it.
This memory came forward with a vengeance too. For days, weeks and months, I could not stop thinking about it; it was truly haunting me. Because of this new-found embarrassment, I vowed to never return to my hometown for fear of running into anyone whom had been a member of that wedding party. I had convinced myself that it was now a well-known fact that I was the biggest idiot to have ever lived in that town. Have you ever felt this way when returning to your hometown or a class reunion?
After suffering under the power of this phenomenon, I began to wonder if this overwhelming feeling of embarrassment was from my own self-evaluation of this memory, or was it the enemy attacking my mind. I felt I had been sieged by this embarrassing moment from my past. But, how could that be? Satan is not omniscient so he could not have known that that movie would provide the perfect opportunity to plant a negative thought into my mind. And even if he was able to know what I was thinking, he does not have the ability to plant anything into my mind. So, was it me or him doing all of this taunting? But, if it was me, why was I continually beating myself up over this mishap? Why couldn’t I make this self-loathing ritual go away? Who was to blame? Maybe you, too, have wrestled with this question.
After doing some research, I came across the perfect explanation – it is Satan’s attack. Although he does not know what I am thinking and is unable to plant thoughts in my head, he is the great influencer of all things negative. He has devised well-laid plans for each of us. He has declared war on God’s creation and has had thousands of years to test strategies and strengthen his method of operation. Even though he is intentional with each of us, he also uses a buckshot approach to his schemes. Basically, he is throwing everything and the kitchen sink at us. The culmination of our insecurities attacked by Satan’s negative influencers causes us to feel less than who we are in Christ, which is the devil’s trademark scheme.
Satan is the guilty party when it comes to overwhelming thoughts of guilt, shame and embarrassment. He is the one who taunts God’s people. He has no intention of allowing any of us to enjoy the abundant life Jesus died to give us. He has been watching us, studying us and listening to us. He has devised well-laid plans to trip us up, and this is just one of his many ploys. But he is not unstoppable!
Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last–salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth–the one who accuses them before our God day and night. Revelation 12:10
Whether it’s sick or funny, have you noticed that we would never allow others to mistreat us the way we often mistreat ourselves? So why would we allow the devil to mistreat us? When we correctly place blame for this source of negative emotions, we are more apt to rise up and do something about it. But, if we accept our own negative self-talk and beat downs, we are more apt to agree with ourselves, which leads us to a place of no hope or resolution.
I hope you resolve that the one true source of guilt, shame and embarrassment is Satan, NOT you.
Have you had any experiences similar to mine when it comes to regrets over the past?
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Award-winning author Gina Duke is a wife, mother and Director of Women’s Ministry at her local church. Gina is also a speaker with a B.S. in Organizational Leadership. She is able to bring a clear word for authentic Christian living. Through her book, “Organizing Your Prayer Closet: A New and Life-Changing Way to Pray” (Abingdon Press), she imparts 1 Peter 4:7 with the gift of structured prayer journaling. Gina also blogs and offers numerous videos and resources at GinaDuke.com. You may also follow her on Twitter and Instagram @TheGinaDuke.
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