Exposure is key to ending toxic shame. Exposure simply means exposing the things that bring the feelings of shame. Last weeks article ended with the two rules for exposure which are 1) expose to God and 2) expose to at least one other person.
First, exposure to God is necessary for forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:9). Exposure to God brings freedom from the “wasting away and groaning” of shame (ps 32, 51). I recommend from experience to not sugar coat this process. Often people treat this by praying, “God forgive me because I sinned.” Exposing specifically produces better results. For example, “I am having sexual thoughts about a woman I saw at the store” is more productive of an exposure that “I sinned.” This may be difficult to do at first but remember God already knows the details of our thoughts anyway so tell him (ps 139).
Exposure to others can get a little more complicated. James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to one another.” However, caution needs to be taken on who to expose to. First, if a person tells you all about everyone else when they are not around, they probably do that to you when you are not around. Find people who can be trustworthy. Even sponsors in programs and some counselors have been found to be untrustworthy so be very careful to whom and what you say. Second, expose to people who show compassion to others rather than condemnation. Third, expose to people who know their own wretchedness. No one is a perfect human being. Those who recognize their own imperfections are typically better people to expose to.
Once the right person or people are discovered for exposure it can be scary. It is easy to be afraid that they will not love you anymore and ostracize you from the group. This is true that some may do that, but why desire to be connected with people who don’t love you with your mistakes? Especially, when more people will still love you anyway knowing the truth about you. Then relationships can truly grow where people are honest with each other and are continue to love each other in light of our scars, wounds, and mistakes. Then the toxicity of shame disappears and healing can begin.