As you continue reading our series on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), we hope to help you deal with a universally despised pain: shame. Starting with definitions, let’s explore the difference between “shame” and “guilt.” Counseling professionals describe a sense of guilt as “I did something bad.” The feeling of shame runs deeper and cuts more deeply: “I am bad.” 

In his book “Shame Interrupted,” Dr. Ed Welch, faculty member at the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF), explores the connection: “Shame is the deep sense that you are unacceptable because of something you did, something done to you, or something associated with you. You feel exposed and humiliated.”  

True healing from shame requires patience, persistence, and above all, the love of Christ. Guilt and shame both have consequences, and a healthy conscience will stir up guilt in the face of committing sin—and hopefully drive us to repentance before a holy, loving God. There can be misplaced guilt, as well. But in the context of abuse and neglect, shame is the bigger problem. We’ll explore the road to redeeming shame in coming posts.

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