Finding Freedom from the Cave of Shame

 “Our brokenness is a bridge, not a barrier.”

Have you ever experienced what seems like the end of the road—a feeling like you’re trapped in a dark, inescapable cave? Alone, enslaved, ashamed, and often believing that you are too far gone for help. You can stay there. You have stayed there. Wallowing in self-pity, eventually no longer being beaten up, but beating yourself up. Nobody can hurt you like you.

afraid addiction disqualified me from relationship

The reality is there is an evil one who has waited for you to arrive at the cave, who wants to destroy you. It is his voice you’ve been listening to all along. And now you see it. You are being torn apart by the one who whispered the goodness of this seditious choice. You have been seduced by a creature more deceptive, more vulgar and hideous than the sin he enticed you into.

Yet the Father has already planned how He will use this pain to bring healing and redemption to your life, as counselor Jay Stringer describes:

“Unwanted sexual behavior, be that pornography, an affair, buying sex, and the like reveal far more than just your sin. It reveals the unexamined and therefore unresolved issues of your life. Sexual behavior serves as an uncanny map. It displays the locations of our past harm and the present-day roadblocks we do not know how to navigate.

We are more likely to be ashamed of our sexual struggles when we do not understand them. It is key for us to understand that our behaviors are never random or capricious. There is always a reason. If you want freedom, you must identify the unique reasons that brought you here.

Fortunately, God is not ashamed of your sexual struggles. He understands them to be the very stage through which the work of redemption could be played out in your life. Most of us, however, look at our sexual failures with self-hatred. We despise ourselves for returning to a behavior that consistently hemorrhages our soul with shame. The tragedy is that this self-contempt is the very thing that blinds us from seeing the kind heart of the Father.

Sexual failure is the geography of the arrival of God. The presence of God is most often found in places of human weakness and struggle throughout the scriptures. Why would it be any other way for us? The Father enters the cave of our shame, not to condemn us, but to open our hearts to hear the music of redemption. He intends to heal your sexual struggles, but He is not content to stop there. Present sin is always the doorway to the wider work of the gospel. The gospel brings healing to the wounds of the past, and comfort, even power to the difficulties of the present. May we turn from our self-hatred to receive the kind and curious face of God.”  

This cave of yours is the final destination on the road to the evil one’s ultimate sleight of hand—a believable lie. It’s a lie that says this time you have gone too far. “I am unlovable.” God must condemn my filth and degradation. I am too broken, too failed, too disgusting to love. Not just that big love He has for the whole universe. That love doesn’t really help me right here. It’s too general. I need to know that He loves me. Uniquely and distinctly me. Here, in all the moments of my betrayal.

The moment you put your faith in what Jesus did on the cross for you, all manner of incredible happens to you. Near the top of the astonishing list of realities is this: You receive a brand new core identity. Your shame story, all of it, was eradicated at the cross. When your name is brought up in heaven, no one sees you identified in your shame. They see an endlessly more outstanding you. They see Christ in you.

You might think, “That must be a misprint. It can’t be as easy that that.”

It isn’t. And it wasn’t, that day on the cross. What Jesus accomplished allowed the most scandalous approach to be His plan. He would be able to meet you in your shame, in your fear, failure, self-hatred, and loss of hope. And you are made righteous, made holy, called holy. You were never a saved sinner. You are a saint, who, yes, messes up. A brand new, shame-free creature.

You have a choice to continue in the lie you have been buying. If you see yourself as a saved sinner, you will always believe you are a disappointment to the Father. If you trust your assessment of yourself, you will act out of that. You’ll never be enough, and you will give yourself permission to fail over and over. Because that’s what someone like you does. You have to hide. You have to pretend. You have to wear masks. And, it gets stronger and worse and more intense. It costs the people around you.

Or you can make a different choice, for moments at a time at first, to trust who God says you are. You are new. You are righteous. You are already forgiven. You are His beloved. And inside you dwells rightness, holiness, cleanliness, power, and beauty. Jesus did this. Jesus did all that re-wiring in you the day you trusted Him on the cross.

That’s the choice you have before you. It’s scary to truly believe it. It’s hard to trust it could be true. It’s hard for you to dare risk it because you see your own behavior, so you have to no longer trust your assessment of yourself and instead make this incredible daring gamble that He’s right. That God’s right. That this is who you are.


The Heart of Man in Select Theaters Nationwide September 14

*As a note of caution, The Heart of Man film includes a 15-second scene of an unmarried couple in an implied moment of intimacy. In the scene, the woman’s bare back is shown from above the waist. In another scene, a man uses a word of profanity to describe the depths of his despair.

This article is adapted from the upcoming film, The Heart of Man, a story inviting the sons and daughters of God to leave behind our broken, moralistic, and religious way of thinking and relating to God and to others. Once we begin to know who God is (and as a result who we are), we can experience true freedom. Freedom from performance. Freedom from managing our behavior so we appear acceptable to God. Freedom from our addictions, compulsive behaviors, secrecy and double lives. This film offers an invitation to the banquet God is throwing all of us.

The Heart of Man is coming to select theaters nationwide on September 14th only.

Get your tickets now for The Heart of Man and receive true hope for those struggling with sexual brokenness.