Shame vs. Conviction

I’d like to talk a little bit about my limited understanding of how God convicts us to change in comparison to how the enemy shames us. I heard Pastor Joby of 11:22 put it very well – if what you’re hearing is a message of condemnation, it’s from the enemy, not God.

If God is who He says He is, He’s about love. So, what is conviction, anyway? That can be a confusing one. I am no theologian or Biblical expert, so I can only speak from my own personal experience and from working with my clients. My understanding of it is that guilt and shame feel like an oppressive weight pulling you down, drowning and paralyzing you. Conviction feels like a pull towards something better, like God is saying to you, this is wrong, go fix it. Not “Shame on you!” but rather, “I believe in you, and you can do better.”

How does this connect with being better? The enemy wants to convince you that it’s too late, so why bother. That there’s too much damage done, you’re a failure, you’re a bad husband/wife, father/mother, worker, leader, man or woman. God tells us the truth – that we are His, we are beloved, and we are good. That we can be better. Shame reminds us of our failures and discourages us from trying. It encourages us to wallow in self-pity. Conviction challenges us to get up, dust ourselves off, and try again. To keep going and to remember that a great deal of success in marriage, parenting and life is just showing up and doing your best.

When I talk to people who have messed things up, the enemy tells them that their family would be “better off” without them, they are engaging in self-hatred. They contemplate divorce and sometimes suicide. The lie they are believing is that they can’t do better, they can’t be better, and they can’t overcome the damage they have done. If you look at your past and how you’ve overcome mistakes and hardship, you know that this belief is factually just not true. If you choose to believe what God says – that with Him ALL things are possible, the lie is plain to see. Here’s the question – do you want to believe you are a failure, period, end of story, or do you want to believe that you can be better? Your family doesn’t need you to quit. They won’t be better off without you. They will be worse. They will be so much better off WITH you if you choose to fight for them, to become better, to stick it out and stay the course. You aren’t strong enough to do this. You’re not supposed to be. That is why we need our good and loving God, who can help us.