One night when my daughter was in kindergarten I was putting her down to sleep, and as I was leaving the room, she said, “Daddy, a girl at school called me a mean name.”
“What was it?” I asked.
She covered her face with her hands and said, “I don’t want to say.”
“You know we don’t keep secrets. I want to know what she said.”
She paused, I asked again, and then she quietly said, “She called me fat.”
I sighed and thought, “My daughter’s in kindergarten — is this happening already?”
“Do you know what fat means?” I asked, hoping she would say no, but she put her arms to her side and held them out widely.
“Come here,” I said. I took her in my arms and tried to tell her that she wasn’t actually fat, that the comment didn’t make any sense, and she shouldn’t believe what the other girl said.
I know how dangerous insulting words can be. I got picked on when I was a kid and the words the bullies used went into my heart like a poisonous arrow. As I sat there with my daughter, I knew she needed more than a hug and a pep talk.
“Let’s pray together,” I said, and then I asked Jesus to dig down in my daughter’s heart and pull that toxic word out of her.
I asked my daughter to hold her hands open and pretend we were holding that ugly word like an object. Then we stood up, opened the curtains, and flung the word out the window.
The next thing we did was pray for the girl who insulted her. I let my daughter make up her own prayer, which basically consisted of her asking God to “help that girl be nice.” Sure, it was a simple prayer, but it put my daughter in a position of compassion, rather than bitterness, judgment or inferiority towards her classmate.
All of us have had toxic words spoken to us, words that got way down deep inside of us and brought shame (maybe they still do). Just like my daughter, we can begin a process of releasing those words by going to Jesus for healing.
We can tell Jesus the painful details of what was said to us and then release those words to the cross of Christ, again and again, if necessary. We can visualize the offenders and bless them in prayer (Luke 6:28); and in doing so, we can let go of our attachment to them. Last of all, we can ask the Lord to bring to mind anyone we’ve shamed during our lifetimes and pray for those people.
Jesus knows our shame. Hebrews 12:2 says as much: “For the joy that was set before Him [Jesus] endured the cross, despising the shame.”
Jesus despises that shame that you’ve endured. He hates what it did to your heart when they called you fat, sissy, stupid, nerd, ugly, loser — whatever it was. He despised shame so much that He died hanging there naked on a cross, took your shame to hell, and left it there.
Don’t be dominated by shame anymore, regardless of who planted the seed inside of you. Jesus bore that shame, and now you can walk in the confidence of those who are forever covered in the glory of God. Because of Jesus, your shame is finished.