Many of us wonder “How can we connect to God and hear God’s voice?” We want to know when God is speaking, but often we overlook the mindset piece that can hinder our ability to hear God’s voice. When we’re struggling with shame and feeling not enough or we’re dealing with guilt it can be incredibly hard to hear God’s voice over our own mental chatter.
Let’s talk about how to address the issues of shame, guilt and not feeling enough so that we can connect with God and truly find the freedom and peace he offers when we can hear God’s voice and walk in obedience.
WHAT YOU'LL LEARN:
- [5:57] [LISTENER QUESTION] How can I connect with God and trust God when I’m feeling not enough?
- [10:02] How Does Guilt Form in Our Mind?
- [11:24] Guilt As Related to Conviction and Condemnation
- [14:19] Bible Verses About Conviction
- [21:34] How the Gift of Salvation Releases Us from Feeling Not Enough
- [25:19] Managing Guilt and Shame So As To Stay Connected to God
- [27:25] Struggling with Guilt or Shame? Ask Yourself These Questions to Identify Subconscious Thought Patterns
- [29:15] Learning to Trust God Again After We’ve Been Hurt
[5:57] [LISTENER QUESTION] How can I connect with God and trust God when I’m feeling not enough?
Today’s episode is based on a question submitted by a listener:
“I still have trouble reading the Bible because I interpret it as telling me that I will never be good enough. I suppose it’s true. I understand that Jesus died for our sins, but it makes me feel guilty and ashamed rather than loved and that I will go to hell. I believe in God and Jesus, but I still feel stopped or held up in my faith. I think it comes down to trusting God. I don’t think I fully let go in order to trust. I really do try to live a good and faithful life but still feel that’s not enough. But I only want change in small, non frightening increments.”
It can be challenging for us to acknowledge our struggles to hear God and grow in Christ when we don’t really understand what we are doing wrong. We are not alone in feeling like this so I am going to break down each part of this question to help us work through this topic together.
We have to come to two realizations about God’s ways. First, no, we are not good enough. We are sinners who have sinned since we were first born and we will continue to sin throughout our lives. Even though we have a relationship with Christ and He is cleaning and changing us, we will never be fully rid of sin in our lifetime.
The second realization is God has made a way for us to be good enough to be redeemed despite our faults and that has nothing to do with our actions. The forgiveness that we have is solved not because we’re working harder to change that or that we can fix it ourselves but because God has fixed this for us.
We can have a logical understanding of the truth that we have been saved, but yet we are unable to shake the feeling of not being good enough. This means that there is something in our subconscious that still has a “soundtrack” that is telling us that, despite God’s promise of redemption, we still aren’t good enough. Although, from a logical sense, we can process the truth that we are good enough, there’s a dissonance between our subconscious mind and our logical mind. Therefore we aren’t able to experience the freedom and joy of God’s promise that we are enough.
[10:02] How Does Guilt Form in Our Mind?
When it comes to these deeper issues of identity and worth, our logical thoughts are filtered by what we’ve already established as truth in the subconscious. Our subconscious thoughts will be especially strong over our logical mind during times of stress.
Our brain is designed to keep us safe so if we feel or see guilt, our brain protects us by blocking us from exploring those feelings. As a result we’re left with guilt because we know we “should” connect with God, but we aren’t sure how to handle the shame we feel.
[11:24] Guilt As Related to Conviction and Condemnation
Guilt is the result of us feeling like we should have done something differently. Guilt is an unhealthy tainting of conviction.
Conviction is a burden from God that moves us toward healthy change. God convicts us as a way to correct us towards being our best selves. Conviction is always rooted in hope and never there to say that we are bad, wrong, or that we cannot change.
Condemnation is the twisting of this good conviction that God has. Condemnation is saying that “You are bad. You made a mistake and you’re never going to change. And you should feel bad about that.” So it is important to understand that when we feel that conviction coming in, we have to decide whether it is guilt or conviction.
Ask yourself if there are things that you feel convicted about. When we ignore conviction for a long time, negative thoughts start to creep in and tell us that we’re bad or evil or that there is no hope for us.
If we ignore conviction it can begin to turn into guilt and condemnation so it is important to examine what we’re feeling. In the light of God’s purity and His desire to continue to help us rid our lives of sin and be our best, we are going to feel conviction. However, we must decide what we are going to do with that conviction. We can choose to see it from God’s intention–as loving correction that we can lean into and trust.
[14:19] Bible Verses About Conviction
Romans 3:9-20 says “No, not at all, for we have already shown that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin.
As the Scriptures say, ‘No one is righteous— not even one.No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.’
Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with lies. Snake venom drips from their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. They rush to commit murder. Destruction and misery always follow them. They don’t know where to find peace. They have no fear of God at all.”
Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God.
For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.
So if we were standing in a courtroom right now, we would be convicted as guilty of sin. That is not a condemnation. It is a reality of our state of being.
Romans 3:21-24 says “But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago.
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.”
Romans 3:27 says “Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith.”
Romans 4:4-5 says “When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned. But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners.”
If we had to work to be right before God then we would have the responsibility of continuing to question whether we were good enough or not. We would have that weight of condemnation on our shoulders but because our connection with God has nothing to do with our actions everyday.
2 Corinthians 7:10 says For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.
I’m sharing these Bible verses with you because I want you to see that we have a reason for feeling like we aren’t enough, and that conviction can turn into condemnation and guilt if we don’t manage it. The guilt we feel is essentially a twisting of the conviction that comes when we line ourselves up with the truth of the law itself.
Romans 5:16 says The result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins.
God’s free gift of salvation is given to release us from the burden of sin and allows us to experience freedom and hope.
Romans 5:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.”
Romans 5:11 says, “So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.”
[21:34] How the Gift of Salvation Releases Us from Feeling Not Enough
Do you hear the recurring theme here – the joy of God giving us this gift?
Our salvation is a gift that we are all given and we have God’s permission to celebrate it.
A good example of this would be if your child had a rare form of cancer that required an expensive treatment that is not covered by insurance and an anonymous benefactor hears your story and offers to step in and help foot the bill. Would you feel guilty or ashamed if you were given this gift? No, you would be so grateful and thankful.
That is how God means for us to respond to His salvation. God doesn’t want us to be mad at ourselves because we will never be up to His standards but to be grateful that He has made a way for us to allow that to draw us closer to Him.
Our enemy is going to do whatever it takes to twist the good gifts that God has given us. Now, this does not mean that we should take advantage of this free gift that we have been given. Jesus says that if you love me, you obey my commands so we have an ongoing responsibility to respect that relationship.
[25:19] Managing Guilt and Shame So As To Stay Connected to God
God has given us these guidelines to help us honor Him and keep our connection with Him strong. God gives us the good conviction to change and the enemy wants to take that conviction and twist it and turn it into guilt.
For example, the enemy wants to take God’s beautiful gift of sex and turn it into pornography. He wants nothing more than for us to view our God-given talents and achievements as lenses to judge our self worth and identity.
We have to always be on alert so that we don’t allow our connection to God to be tainted by our own perceptions of not being good enough, or by our own shame and guilt.
This all starts with what is going on in our heads – the dialogue that is taking place all the time as these issues come up. If we have a feeling of guilt or are struggling with shame, it all starts with a thought.
[27:25] Struggling with Guilt or Shame? Ask Yourself These Questions to Identify Subconscious Thought Patterns
It is easy to let ourselves feel guilty or shameful, but I want to encourage you to start looking at subconscious patterns. Here are some questions that we can ask ourselves to identify where patterns of guilt and shame may come from:
- In the past what have you learned about what it means to be enough?
- What have you learned from others about what it means to feel loved and worthy?
- What are the thoughts that come up for you around receiving a gift?
- Is there such a thing as a free gift?
- How have guilt and shame been used as a motivation in your life in an unhealthy way?
The last question might sound a bit odd, but I encourage us to consider it when looking at guilt or shame because many of us who struggle with perfectionism and people-pleasing use guilt and shame as motivation to keep achieving and proving ourselves. In the past, I used this as a way to motivate myself to achieve and do well. I would use the feeling of not being good enough to continue moving forward.
However, now that I have been released from perfectionism, performance and people-pleasing, I don’t lean on guilt and shame as motivation. Because I’ve established on a subconscious level that I am enough in God I can connect with God and obey His commands for me from a place of knowing that my worth is already complete. When we can operate from the perspective that we’re already enough, it makes a world of a difference for both our self-esteem and ability to connect with God and be released from shame.
[29:15] Learning to Trust God Again After We’ve Been Hurt
Trust is truly the foundation of any relationship. If we have areas where we have been wounded, we sometimes associate God as a part of that wounding. Naturally this affects our ability to trust God.
Therefore if we want to connect with God, we need to figure out how to move past and trust issues we may have. It’s the same thing as a marriage. Whether it’s infidelity, lack of trust, or money issues – it can be hard to automatically regain that trust with a spouse if we’ve been wounded. Should trust be broken in a marriage we recognize that we must address the pain in order to move forward. Therefore if we’re struggling with feeling enough or with shame and guilt (and there’s trauma or other difficult life issues in our past or present) it’s worth considering if we somehow have issues trusting God because of these events.
Here are some questions we can ask ourselves if we believe we may struggle with trusting God: How have we been hurt? What false beliefs about ourselves or God do we need to release? What do we need to let go of in order to move into fully trusting and surrendering to God?
We tackle this issue in week two of the Christian Mindset Makeover. We discuss building our life on the promises of God and go through several exercises to really dive deep into our mindset. In week four and five of the Christian Mindset Makeover, we go through what we need to do to surrender, which is something we also covered in episode 164 of the podcast.
We need to figure out what we need to do to surrender and let go of things that we are and are not responsible for. Many of us struggle with this in our relationship with God because we have things that we have never confessed and dealt with. Confession can become part of that surrender process as well.
In week three and four of the Christian Mindset Makeover, we talk a lot about releasing that fear and moving into trust again. This allows us to bring in the deep healing that we need to absorb God’s truth about who we are and our worthiness.
Brain priming is also an extremely powerful tool for allowing us to reprogram our thoughts from the inside out so that we can find lasting healing. We’re not telling ourselves affirmations. Instead we’re literally changing these broken subconscious soundtracks so that they line up with the promises of God!
Brain priming is a key element in the work we do in the Christian Mindset Makeover. Learn more about this powerful program here (or check out this free workshop that explains more about managing negative thoughts, brain priming and the Christian Mindset Makeover itself).
OTHER PODCAST EPISODES ON CONNECTING WITH GOD:
- Ep. 142: How My Battle with Depression Helps Me Grow Closer to God with Amber Cullum
- Ep. 150: Rediscovering the Power of God’s Redeeming Love with Francine Rivers
- Ep 164: 2 Questions to Ask When Surrendering to God for More Peace
- Ep 165: How to Pray Confidently and Consistently for More Connection with God with Valerie Woerner
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