Shame, Identity, And Why We Can’t Stop Singing, “This Is Me.”

The Greatest Showman has taken the world by storm as a powerful story of human triumph. If you haven’t seen it, drop everything you’re doing and go see it now. (Because priorities).

Some of you are like me, and you’ve not only seen the movie, but the phrase, “Alexa, play ‘The Greatest Showman‘ soundtrack,” is heard throughout the day…every. single. day.

Full disclosure? I’ve even taken my love of this movie to a whole different level. I came across a video tutorial of some of the choreography for the movie’s flagship song, “This Is Me,” and I’ve been practicing in my living room. No, really.

This Is Me” is a powerful anthem. It is a battle cry for anyone who has ever believed that they are unworthy of love and value,  but who are daring to step beyond the shackles of shame and hiding.

The movie depicts an array of unusual characters that the world has labeled “freaks” and “monsters.” We see Tom Thumb, a twenty-something year old man with dwarf syndrome, whose own mother kept him hidden and even denied having a son. We see Lettie, the bearded lady, who is introduced to us hiding behind her work of cleaning laundry, too ashamed to come out from behind the curtain.

Their outward oddities played a role in their being ostracized, but it was their hidden shame—their belief in their lack of worth, value, or belonging—that really held them prisoner.

We’ve all bought into the same vicious lies at some point or another. I’m going to bet that you have felt the gripping weight of pain, shame, and feeling unworthy at some point in your life.

Perhaps you’re feeling those things right now, tangled up in the darkness that comes when we believe no one will want us, love us, accept us as we are. As Keala Settle begins “This Is Me,” our hearts cry like mourning doves, knowing these words so well:

I am not a stranger to the dark
Hide away, they say
‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one’ll love you as you are

We create our masks to hide behind. Tom Thumb hid in the confines of a ramshackle house. Lettie hid behind bed linens clipped carefully across a laundry line. Some of us hide behind achievement, others behind addiction. Some hide behind screens, and some behind productivity.

We all have experienced shame that has beaten and silenced our souls into hiding. But we are called to step out of the shadows and into the liberating light of freedom.

Shame suffocates the truth about who we really are.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to burst down the barricades; it is time to break free.  It’s time to take our identities back; to send a flood and drown out the shame and the lies with the truth.

On the other side of this screen is a human being made from the very hands that carved out the oceans, who set the galaxies in motion. You are a masterpiece. You are loved simply because you are.

You are loved. Period. And anything that speaks to the contrary is a lie straight from the pit of hell.

You, with your scars and bruises, your mistakes and failures, your baggage, your dreams, your feelings of being too much and not enough all at the same time. Even if you do not believe it, the truth is that you bear the Image of God—His DNA, his fingerprints.

To the person who has been abandoned, abused, and maligned: you are wanted.

To the person secretly questioning if your life matters: you matter more than you can fathom.

To the person consumed with pain and sorrow, hoping to crawl into a cave until you heal, too ashamed to reveal your broken heart to others: it’s time to be brave and step into the light.

To the person striving with everything you’ve got to earn approval, receive affirmation, and learn to be pleasing: in Jesus you can rest from a lifetime of trying to earn the love that is already yours.

To the person whose story has been used as a weapon against you; whose failures have been used as reasons why you are unloveable and too far from grace: Christ has overcome.

We must know the truth, not platitudes, not feel-good-statements, but the Truth Himself. He loves us, He is for us, and we don’t have to jump through hoops for Him.

“This Is Me” is an anthem for all of us; it is a battle cry against anything that would condemn us, shame us, or convince us that there is no hope.

Another round of bullets hits my skin
Well, fire away ’cause today, I won’t let the shame sink in
We are bursting through the barricades and
Reaching for the sun. We are warriors. 
Yeah, that’s what we’ve become

Jesus has broken the chains of barricades holding you as a slave. You are a warrior.

Let’s be done hiding. Let’s be done with shame.

Let’s step into the light and say, “I am brave. I am bruised. I am who I’m meant to be. This is me.” Beloved son or daughter. Uniquely crafted. Wanted. Purposed. Beloved.

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