Isaiah 54:4 – “Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth.”
A STCH Ministries Family Counseling client sought relief from crippling guilt and shame. The misplaced guilt the client struggled with stemmed from not wanting to be like his parents and feeling he had to hide his past. He helped raise his younger siblings due to a sexually abusive father and absent mother whose drug addiction led to frequent jail time. He believed himself guilty because he felt embarrassed by his family, he thought as a Christian, shouldn’t he love them unconditionally?
His counselor, Peyton, set a goal to help the gentleman discover those feelings did not belong to him. Guilt, a deep feeling of regret for an act which may or may not have occurred in the past, led to shame, the feeling of failing to live up to an imagined ideal of oneself. After many sessions processing through these emotions and establishing healthy boundaries, Peyton established that the guilt and shame he was carrying belonged to his family.
Often in a dysfunctional family, the children feel shame for their parent’s problems. Children cannot understand that their family is not “normal” or healthy and may think they are the cause of the problems. This idea may make them believe that the problem has to do with themselves, rather than the family. Family secrets can produce shame. Keeping a parent’s drug habit or sexual abuse a secret makes the child feel like they have something to hide and gives them the message “Don’t let people see you as you are.”
Peyton selected an insightful workbook called Making Peace with Your Past: Help for Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families by Tim Sledge to help her client. The lessons guided them through identifying the key characteristics of a dysfunctional family—how shame may transfer to others, defeating shame and understanding that spiritual cleansing is essential to win over shame. The client gave his shame and guilt to God and experienced God’s emotional renewal thus discovering his family was not his destiny. He learned to love his family with healthy boundaries in place.
Through faith and counseling, he surrendered guilt and shame to the Lord, developed a refreshed outlook on his life and experienced a great sense of relief. The client’s life reflected Psalm 3:3—“But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” The client gave himself the grace and mercy he deserved, and his faith is stronger than ever.
If guilt or shame is a problem in your life, STCH Ministries Family Counseling offices are available in 16 locations around South Texas. Please visit: https://www.STCHM.org/family-counseling/