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Shame is so powerful that it can drive you to believe that not only are you unworthy of being loved but that you have no control over your own life. That no matter what you do or how hard you try nothing will ever change. @ AVirtuousWoman.org #ATimeToClean

A Time to Clean: Day 6

You can read the rest of the posts in this series here.

If you look up the definition of shame, you’ll find these words: “a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.”

But, shame is more than a feeling of guilt. It goes deeper than the idea that you’ve done something wrong. For the woman who bears a mark of shame, it’s like the scarlet letter – an almost tangible feeling that she’s not worthy of being loved.

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Dr. Brene’ Brown said it well, “Shame is the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging.”

When You Feel Unlovable

I can personally testify to what shame did in my life and I know I’m not the only woman who has looked in the mirror and wished she was someone else.

As a child I was picked on and teased unmercifully. I was teased everyday by nearly everyone in my class for years. I was the child who didn’t fit anywhere.

And when I looked in the mirror, I agreed with the world. I was ugly. I was unlovable. I was unwanted. I was nothing. Nothing worth having.

Because I believed I was unlovable, I felt a desperation – a deep longing and need – to be loved by someone. Anyone.

I didn’t know what it really meant to be loved by Christ. I only knew how much I desired to be loved and accepted by the people around me, by the world.

I never fit in. My heart was more than insecure, it was damaged and broken. Shattered by the cruel voices that taunted my every moment.

I never fit in with kids my own age. And then I became a mother. Pregnant at the tender age of 14. I felt shamed. Every where I went I could feel the stares, the questions, the assumptions, and the judgments.

The shame lasted. Continued for years, even as I attended church as a 19 year old mother of two. I didn’t fit in with the soccer moms in their thirties. I didn’t fit in anywhere I went. And after two decades of rarely having friends, and never having lasting friendships, of struggling to talk to people, of always feeling ugly and unlovable… I was still desperate for someone, anyone to love me.

By the time I was 21, I was a divorced mother of three. A young mother with no education, no husband, no job, no home of my own.

Shame was who I was.

Your story may be different from mine, but when you look in the mirror all you can see is your shame. So many circumstances can cause us to feel shame – being bullied at school, abuse from your father or indifference toward you by your mother, or even choices you’ve made – drugs, alcohol, sex, abortion.

Shame is so powerful that it can drive you to believe that not only are you unworthy of being loved but that you have no control over your own life. That no matter what you do or how hard you try nothing will ever change.

Shame is so powerful that it can drive you to believe that not only are you unworthy of being loved but that you have no control over your own life. That no matter what you do or how hard you try nothing will ever change. @ AVirtuousWoman.org #ATimeToClean

Shame can leave you feeling powerless. 

Jesus came to save us from shame. He was shamed and scorned so that we can live forever with Him who will never shame us.

There’s a story in the Bible of a young woman, who was caught in the act of adultery and drug out into the streets to be publicly shamed.

Imagine for a moment this scene. There’s this young woman, probably naked or barely covered, her sins have been exposed and there are elders – prominent men who are respected in the community mocking her, judging her, ready to kill her. She’s overwhelmed, broken, terrified that this will be the story of her life.

That this will be her story.

And Jesus comes to her rescue and He tells the mockers and haters to leave her alone. 

“Jesus went across to Mount Olives, but he was soon back in the Temple again. Swarms of people came to him. He sat down and taught them. The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him.

Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt.

Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?”

“No one, Master.”

“Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.” John 8:1-11 {The Message}

Neither do I condemn you. 

Your past is your past. You can’t change it. It’s time to own your own story and claim victory in Christ. Because the ending to your story doesn’t stop at yesterday. You have today. You can choose today to claim the promise of forgiveness and redemption through Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth, and the life.

He is all powerful where you feel powerless. 

When our past is colored by shame, every failure, every imperfection is magnified. We can’t see past our shame until we choose to be set free. As a wife and a homemaker I’m only now beginning to be okay with my imperfect self and yet I still struggle with it! When we hold onto shame, our homes suffer because we can’t find the joy in the mundane because it’s all colored with imperfection and shame.

This doesn’t have to be your story. 

My Testimony

So, a few weeks ago I had the privilege to talk with Tiffani Riveron and share my story. I wanted to share that interview with you here.

Click here to listen to {or download} my interview with Tiffani. 

Today’s Goal

  • Are there things from your past that are laying claim on your life that you need to give to Jesus?
  • Ask Jesus to bathe you in His love so that your innermost being feels loved and worthy of love.
  • Pick up a journal and write down your thoughts about what He has shown you or print my free prayer journal.
  • Choose an area in your home you want to tackle.
  • Fill at least one bag or box full of stuff to give away. You can donate to our Appalachian Community Center if you’d like.
  • Take a picture of your bag. Share it on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, or Instagram – use hashtag #atimetoclean {optional}
  • Leave a comment below about what you chose to get rid of and anything else God has laid on your heart.
  • Do your best to wake up early tomorrow and spend time in prayer. Use your prayer journal. I’ll be waking up around 6:00 am.

What is your story?

I want to hear your story! If you feel led to share, please comment below or send me an email.

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      1. Wow, Melissa My husband recently passed away and did not fill in insurance correctly I loss him to Pneumonia he had a Double Lung Transplant ., this has left me in terrible debt with the stigma of Shame that I can’t care for myself. I can’t breath somedays with the emotional pain I feel but I carry on. I hear the gossip but I carry on. I feel like the child at school that was bullied mercilessly Help me Lord Patricia Willis
  1. Your testimony touched me. It helped me remember the reasons I feel unworthy (never fitting in at school, indifference toward me by my mother). I cannot explain how religion played a part in my growing up years, except to say it was used as a temporary Band-Aid to be brought out on special occasions or when my family was/is falling apart. As an adult, my beliefs did not fit the 'mold' of my family's beliefs. In a small town, three churches later, they appear to be much like my family and I don't fit that 'mold.' Letters inviting you back with a card enclosed, asking how much you will be giving this year. Hearing insincere claims that they've missed me on Sundays, but can they still get a discount for their food pantry. The same ladies that are elevated in the church on Sundays, are at coffee in the local diner spreading rumors the other six days of the week. Reading your daily blog has given me hope that in this anonymity, I see others who's beliefs are like mine. God must have sent me here. Thank you for your ministry and I'm sorry for the rambling! Susan G
  2. Melissa, this speaks directly to my heart this morning. I will be giving my testimony at a womens event at our church in a few weeks. Sharing about mocking and inferior feelings is so hard, yet somehow sharing them is also part of the healing. Running through old memories has been so painful, but God is good. He has turned this heart of stone to one of flesh. He has done beautiful things! Thank you for sharing your heart here. So many women need this gentle, beautiful truth. God bless!
  3. I admire you for this Melissa. I'm sure it must have been nerve-wrecking and scary to write this, but it is a vital step to put it all out there and like you said, declutter your heart and mind and soul so that Jesus can enter and do His thing. Thank you for this inspiration to be so brave, so that others can be inspired to be brave in this world as well. God bless you!
  4. Thanks for this post and for your openness. It speaks to me pretty deeply. I've been stuck for so long, not able to walk with Jesus the way I know I need to, because of a very deep feeling that He doesn't love me. That I'm the only exception to His love. I've tried so hard to believe in His love, but I still don't feel it, and this hole in my life is destroying me. After reading this, I wonder if it could be because of the shame I carry for things I've done in my recent past...I won't get into it here, but you might remember me chiming in on your post about Fifty Shades recently, and my shame is directly tied to that and other related things. Anyway, lots to think about. Thank you! As an aside, it pains me to hear you were so cruelly picked on in school. I had my share of that (though not as bad as you, apparently), and it's a big motivation in my choice to homeschool. Not the only reason I do, but it's one of the reasons. I couldn't bear the thought of my children enduring what I did.
    1. Oh, Nettie, you are precious in God's sight. He loves you with an everlasting love. You are his precious, precious child. As a mother I've had my share of heartbreaks - but no matter what my kids do wrong, I still love them. If I had a child who ran away from home, I'd never stop loving them and welcome them back home with open arms when they returned. God is like that. His love never stops. God IS love. But I know how hard it can be to believe that for yourself. I've been there and I know. God is faithful and just to forgive you - you need only ask. The hard part is forgiving yourself, but it is possible to love yourself again! He is doing a good work in you. And I know He will heal your broken heart as the days go on. God bless you! Stay in touch!
    2. Thank you, thank you. You have blessed me just when I needed it. It is coming upon the one year since my husband died. I have been suffering from shame because I stayed with him for 41 years, knowing what he was, but ignoring it. I did it because I took my marriage vows seriously. The Lord has used you to come into my life for comfort. Thank you and God bless you, Dear.
  5. How is it that the very topic I am struggling with is here the very day I am struggling the most. Getting rid of stuff really helps?
  6. I know to well about looking in the mirror and seeing shame. A part of my story is about 13 years ago I married the totally wrong man. He was very verbally and physically abusive, especially more when he drank alcohol. I used to always think I did something wrong, took me many years after I got the courage to leave him to trust another man. But when I looked in the mirror all the time I did see shame on myself. Like why am I letting him do this to me, how come I don't have the strength to fight back or why don't I just leave. I always was embarrassed for anyone to see me. But I finally didn't want to see that no more and I left him and got help. Now I have a great man and a wonderful marriage and no more shame when I look in the mirror! Plus I do believe God gave me the strength to leave him and stay gone and fight for myself.
  7. I just wanted to share that I came across your blog and instantly fell in love with the encouragement you are spreading. Since starting this challenge I have gotten rid of or donated 6 1/2 bags of clothes and have encouraged my husband and roommate to declutter a bit as well. Your story has hit home today. I constantly feel like I don't have control over my life and I feel like I'm scrambling to get a hold. Since a young age my family has been in constant turmoil and I am the only one holding it together. I feel like I'm trying to stitch it back together and it doesn't seem to be working. I can't seem to let my parents go on their destructive way. I feel as though I have to fix it. My husband is nothing but supporting of any decision I make. I'm hoping that this challenge will open up new insights from God as to what I have to do. I am so blessed to have found Jesus at 15 and I believe that he has used and is using my past as a way to help others. Thank you for your encouragement and your bravery to share your life stories with the world. God bless you!
  8. I just stumbled across your blog from pinterest and I am so glad God nudged me to click on the link! Your words could be mine - though not the exact same story of course - but the shame and self-loathing and never fitting in wherever I go, that I know about. Satan is such a rotten liar and we believe these lies of how terrible we are. I'm so grateful that God NEVER lets go of each one of us, I've learned to open up to His healing love - He WILL come in when we just let Him. He's the only One who has ever convinced me that I'm of any value. Thank you so much for your openness and your words of encouragement. Funny! I've been in the process of de-cluttering my house for a few months now and it does do wonders for a person!
    1. Hi Marni, I'm so glad you stopped to visit with me. :) Shame is such a powerful deception. But you are so right God never lets go of us. Nothing can separate us from the LOVE of Christ! God bless you! I hope you'll visit again soon.
  9. OMG!!!! I take it that you are loving the book that I sent you?!?! Yay! That makes me SO happy that you are reading it. Brene is a real game changer. I LOVE HER! When I read a post that you wrote a while back about scheduling vs having a routine... something clicked inside. I had my "aha" moment (Eckhart Tolle calls it "an awakening--he is another AMAZING teacher as well, which I'm sure you know already). Somehow, your style and words reminded me of Brene. I'm sure you have seen some similarities on ya'lls points of view. Anyhow, that's what made me want to get you the book. You sounded like someone who follows her (like I do). Now you will see why I thought that, and I hope she changes your life, as it did mine! xoVanessa
  10. Melissa, if we were closer we would be friends! I am much older than you but growing up in the 60's have a sort of similar story and mercy...yup I thank God for His mercy! My:Scripture picture is from Psalm 40:1-3 and I living out verse 3! Thanks for your transparency...it makes the world brighter when we shine our light! Blessings as you continue to be the light!
  11. Your transparency here is beautiful. And what a testimony to the power of our God that He takes our shame, our aloneness, and uses it to reach others who feel unloved. Lovely, lovely post!
  12. Whoa. It took me a while to finish reading this due to my sobbing crying; I had chill bumps almost immediately. Powerless and ashamed are two words that I have used to describe my feelings more times than I can count. I can completely, COMPLETELY identify with the statement "When we hold onto shame, our homes suffer because we can’t find the joy in the mundane because it’s all colored with imperfection and shame." I have struggled with healing for many years, read many blogs and such all about shame, but I have never heard anyone apply it to the home before. It makes perfect sense! I learned in an abnormal psychology class about how we develop thoughts that lead us into these terrible negative downward spirals, they quickly become habits that can overpower all rational thinking. This is very true to me; My heart is a mess and so is my house! Every single time I try to get my house (or anything else for that matter) in order and it doesn't go to plan, I immediately see it as another failure and quickly retreat into another self loathing cycle. Every. Single. Time. I know I am not alone in this and that is how I am able to talk about it here. I have slowly (very slowly) over the last year begun to find my footing and courage to believe that I AM worthy and lovable, I DO deserve to have a beautiful life, I WILL be more than a sad story. I have started healing in my heart and am ready to start letting that reflect in my home! I learned a long time ago that every story has a purpose, yours Melissa, was to help encourage and guide others like me and I thank you for being brave enough to share yours. Thank you for reminding all of us that we are not alone and that though the journey is long, it is doable!
  13. In reading through the comments section i was grateful to notice a post almost as recent as mine, several months after you issued the challenge. Your 30 Day Challenge is happening in our lives later than in yours, but it is happening none the less. I am still not where you are with the bags gathered and donated, but my heart is changing and growing. I am pacing myself and sticking to the day-at-a-time plan--even though i could race ahead and read it all in one day--because you warned us that this is a painful process. Change usually is, and change for the better is the hardest--and most worthwhile--of all! Thank you for the inspiration. With the World Wide Web, your light is shining throughout the world right now. HIS light, I mean, since that is what you are showing us: Christ is the Light of the World, and you are showing us how to find Him and access His Attonement. I have had my clutter problems for many a year, but you have given me fresh insights that are burrowing deep inside me, healing me from the inside out. In all the many ways i have tackled my messy housekeeping, I had never considered the spiritual factor. (Duh!) But the idea resonates within, and I testify of its truthfulness. Thank you for opening your mouth to share what is in your heart. You are changing the world for the better, one blog at a time. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
  14. Melissa, as I read your words, that I am precious, I am crying within and outside. my husband of 21 years has been emotionally abusive. even when I am sick, beings a working mum and having to do almost all household chores, he insists that I should get up early to do what I should do. No excuse. I am mentally exhausted. He will say nasty things in front of our children, no respect for me at all. I am thinking of leaving and divorce.
    1. Jennifer, my heart breaks for you. If you haven't already, be sure to read these posts: Emotional Abuse in Marriage: http://avirtuouswoman.org/help-for-anger-emotional-abuse-marriage/ Biblical Grounds for Divorce: http://avirtuouswoman.org/biblical-grounds-for-divorce/ God bless you!
  15. I mean my husband told me I can jump but don't bring our children. When I don't obey him or agree with what he says, he stops talking to me for weeks...
  16. Melissa, thank you so much for sharing your testimony, both in written form and in your interview with Tiffani Riveron. Your testimony is a powerful story of God's grace, forgiveness, and transformation through His Spirit. Thank you for your honesty and willing vulnerability in order to help and encourage others. I enjoy visiting your blog about once a week (I follow on Facebook, Twitter, and through Feedly). God bless you, your family, and your ministry.
  17. Hi Thank you for sharing your story, it helps to know someone also went through life the tough way. Can you share what happened after you get serious with God and how it leads to you finding your husband?
  18. Last week I was having an emotional rough day and at around 2 am I was praying and searching on the internet for help. I was determined to fix it. I'm 45 years old and my life just feels out of control at times and not where it should be. I feel alone and have trouble feeling loved. My search that night landed on your page and I just soaked it in. God led me to you and it is wonderful. I'm working on two of your challenges. A time to Clean and Chaos to Calm 15 weeks to a Happy Home. I just read day 6 about Shame and had no clue that was one of things that I felt. It was like reading what I was feeling to a tee (different circumstances but same feelings). I just stared at your words and kept rereading them. Just wanting to cry and wishing I could hug you because of what you had gone through and what I had gone through. You are really stirring things up in my heart and thoughts. I'm also learning more about Jesus and God. This will certainly be a journey maybe a tough one but it will be worth it. I thank you for taking the time to write and share these with others and me. I usually don't reply to things but I just had to let you know that you have a made a profound affect on me. Thank you God. I praise you for working through Melissa to reach me! God bless you Melissa and your family. You are special. This will change my life as well as my two boys.
    1. Paula, your words brought tears to my eyes. God is so good. He loves you so much and I know He is going to do great things in your life. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. God bless you in your journey!
  19. Dearest Melissa, I definitely do not believe in coincidence. Finding you tonight was Holy Spirit and nspired. I'm so grateful that God crossed our paths. I look forward to becoming completely free of my two "job" experiences. I am a lover of stories. Especially the ones where God was there in the midst. I loved reading your testimony. It was difficult, but it was so refreshing to see regardless of our circumstances, His word is truth. He will never leave us. I am a mom of 5 children. 3 biological and 2 adopted that we fostered ( not siblings) and a grandmother of 5. I am a wife, of 38 years, and I work for one of the largest mission organizations in the world. "Campus Crusade For Christ." Regardless of the betrayals by 3 men who were supposed to love and protect me. I consider myself so incredibly blessed that God chose simple ol me to be a light for others. You are such an inspiration and I look forward to being cyber friends. Thank you for your obedience to His calling of writing a blog. Your blog has become my very favorite. I truly could read all night. I must be at work by 7:30 am tomorrow, but as soon as I have a break, I will be back. Thanking Jesus for this most wonderful evening spending time with you. God Bless you ... More soon
    1. Such a powerful testimony! I praise God for you Melissa! I cried when I heard your testimony, because mine is very similar. God is so awesome... He knew your ministry, and testimony would help me to get closer to Him, and to move forward in life... God bless you Melissa!
  20. WOW!!! That is an AMAZING testimony!! I found your blog on pinterest and im so grateful i did! Im 29, a mother of an almosy 17month old lil girl. I will have 17monthes clean from heroin tomorrow. I was on heroin for 11years and homeless. I was homeless and on drugs my whole pregnancy i could not get any help to get clean. My daughters father is in prison. I struggle so much with EVERYTHING! I LITERALLY went from being the lowest of the low, homeless pregnant n on drugs to being a MOM overnight! I grew up in a home w a mom who was raised catholic n an agnostic dad. So Jesus was foreign to me. In March of 2011 I had got out of jail and was saved.. I became curious and started going to church to learn more. But i started using drugs again. I wound up in rehab with a girl who had a bible and little knowledge of it just like me so we read it together at night. We fell in love with the parable of the lost sheep! I got out but conti ued using drugs. It wasnt till i had my lil girl that i stopped using drugs. It cleared up any doubt i had about GOD! Im in love w ur blogs bc i struggle being a single mom. I am very hard on myself about my house being clean. Im still learning EVERYDAY how to be a productive member of society. Thank u for ur blogs. The bible Studies look so fun! I appreciate ur updated blogs for woman like me who cant afford to buy a book... So we can still enjoy all of your insight!!! Praise God
  21. Hi Melissa! Like everyone else that comes across your blog, I too feel I was led here by the Holy Spirit. One night when I could not cry anymore feeling guilty for not being the woman my husband wanted me to be, and ashamed because now I would be a single mom, I felt I had the need to look up what it meant to be a woman after God's own heart, because I did not want to feel unworthy of God. During that Google search I stumped into your blog. This is my day 2 of reading 15 weeks from chaos to calm. I am also glad you have the posts for those that cannot buy your books. My husband left me when I was no longer capable of sustaining myself financially. But in the midst of all that, God has shown I am not alone by leading me here. God Bless!
  22. My husband of 45 years left me for his high school sweetheart. He escaped and has not spoken directly to me since. Two months before he left, I found where he had met with the other woman's lawyer to draw up divorce papers. For the past 13 months, I have been living in a fog. I truly still love him. We had a farming/ranching operation with our two adult sons, and I also teach at a public school, which is 10 minutes away. I have struggled to fake my life, but I feel like it is on hold, waiting for him to come to his senses. I am ashamed and feel unlovable and old -- used up and betrayed. No matter how much I praise God for what I still have, no matter how much I read scriptures, and no matter how much I pray to Him, my life feels surreal. I want my old life back; I cannot have it. I truly still love my husband. Our divorce is still in process; yet, he is now bringing her to family gatherings at my son's home -- during those events, I am not invited. I am lost!
    1. So sorry for your pain, Debbie. Any time there is a divorce, there will be grief and the grieving process can take a long time. I read somewhere that it can take one month for every year of marriage to come to terms with it. Give yourself time. I wish I had an answer for you. Praying for your healing.
      1. I read that it was six months for every year and was shocked! And I was truly surprised that it was 12.5 years out of a 25-year marriage to be healed from the damage the divorce wrought. Debbie, I pray you are feeling more "you" now. I took back my maiden name and feel more like me because of it - I reclaimed my identity. I am not telling you to do so, just sharing my experience. I pray the Lord blesses you with a peaceful heart.
  23. I too have a shame based personality. I grew up in a home with a mother who would yell at us all the time for cluttering up the kitchen with our stuff. It felt like I was being beaten only this was worse because there were no signs of abuse. My father didn’t know what to do. I still at 57 years old have a difficult time expressing anger. I also have a hard time when someone yells at me. I have bi pilot depression that is controlled by medication. I go to counseling every month and I am seeking God to love me. I’m learning to accept his love.
  24. I’m choosing to forgive my mother for always yelling at us. It felt like I was being beaten. At 57 years old, I’m learning about God’s love for me.
  25. Thank you for sharing.I didn't see the link between my constant humiliation at the hands of people I respected as the reason why I struggle with the belief that m am unlovable. I was googling for articles on abuse and the feeling of being unlovable. I am grateful the Holy Spirit that He led me to read your revelation. Thank you for opening up and sharing your beautiful story with us.Love all the way from Botswana
  26. I have noticed you have not commented on any 2020 comments which leads me to ask if you are still active on this blog? Do you still read and respond or is this simply and outdated post that you no longer see or read? Sincerely, Jane Ellen Hillis 67 yr old mother of 3 adult children, grandmother of 6, and married almost 48 yrs to my college sweetheart.
    1. Hi Jane, that's simply not true. I respond to as many comments as I can and I have responded to many comments this year. I publish every week and send out emails every week. I'm so glad you're here! If you have any questions please feel free to ask. :)
  27. I'm not proud to admit that although I'm a Christian I still carry shame. Which makes me feel ashamed. And the cycle continues. I'm in therapy now and because of a few events I felt like God was showing me that shame is woven all throughout me. Like I didn't have shame I was shame.
  28. You are gorgeous Melissa!! Receive love all the way from Kenya. Your story touched my heart and I thank God you found love in Jesus and were able to heal from all the hurt and pain you went through and now you're able to spread the love around. Keep doing what you're doing.