Scripture teaches us to love our neighbor as ourselves. But did you ever consider that love, empathy, and kindness start with you? Practicing self-empathy, self-kindness, and self-love are foundational for healthy relationships with others. If we can’t receive empathy for ourselves, then we will be incapable of giving it to others.

Another way we can empower our relationships is by getting into community. God wired you for attachment. Adults need attachment as desperately as an infant does. You were never intended to do life alone. That is part of the purpose of relationships. God wanted you to have secure attachments throughout your adult life—individuals who know and love you just as you are—with no shame.

But re-wiring our brains and transforming our hearts, is a process. The enemy of every healthy relationship is shame. And toxic shame doesn’t go away overnight. Sometimes, I feel relatively shame-free and then something can happen and a critical judge inside of me takes over and tells me how deficient I am. When this happens, I choose to reach out to others and share my failures. I stop and allow Jesus to remind me who I am in Him, and I practice letting love in. I also monitor that critical judge and refute the critical voice with empathy and lovingkindness towards myself. Shame is the great kidnapper of humanity and keeps us from living the empowered, relational life Jesus longs for us.

Thought Bomb: How has shame affected your role in community, and how can you actively de-shame your life each day?

RelationshipsNancy Houston