Unashamed: Healing our Brokenness and Finding Freedom from Shame

Reviewed by: Megan Burkhart, professional writing major at Taylor University 


Title: Unashamed: Healing our Brokenness and Finding Freedom from Shame

Author: Heather Davis Nelson

Publisher: Crossway

Publication Date: 2016

Format:Paperback book

Length: 192 pages


Shame. We can’t vacuum it up. We can’t diet it away.  We can’t even hide it behind our smiles, our performance, or our relationships. It can always be there for many people.

In Heather Davis Nelson’s book, Unashamed, the author tackles head-on the issue of shame by offering a biblical perspective focused on community bonding and mutual forgiveness. In the opening chapters Nelson exposes shame as the sneaky chameleon in many people’s lives with the power to make individuals hide and feel unworthy. She distinguishes between guilt (I did something bad) and shame (I am bad), and brings readers into God’s welcoming grace as counterpointed by the shame his son Jesus endured for everyone on the cross.

Shame can come in different forms, and Nelson addresses many of them. Her chapters include topics focused on social shame, performance shame, and marital shame, but also on positive behaviors, such as shame-free parenting. She is not afraid to be vulnerable with her readers and discuss the lies the enemy throws at everyone in the many areas of shame. Often it is events in people’s pasts that lead them to their shame-filled habits in the present. However, Nelson encourages her readers to be open with the trustworthy and safe people in their lives. She reminds every Christian of his or her worth in Christ and how the Lord’s righteousness covers all shame.

Nelson also discusses particular responses to shame, including the tendency to hide, blame, avoid others, or to continue to indulge in shame. Shame thrives because it isolates, it leaves its victims alone with their weaknesses and inadequacies. Nelson urges sufferers to bring these shame-filled thoughts and experiences into the light of Christ-centered community. This ties in with her final chapter on shame and the church. The church can sometimes be viewed as a judgmental, hostile place. Some members are made to feel worse about their sins and struggles, but the reality is that everyone struggles with sin. Before the cross, all sin is equal, and all humans are in need of healing from brokenness.

To further meditate on these topics, Nelson includes questions for reflection and discussion at the end of each chapter to highlight the themes just talked about. These questions require digging beneath the surface to confront the lies and shame people face in their lives, and they remind everyone to look to Christ for a shame-free identity in his eternal family.


Rating (1 to 5)

5 stars

Suggested Audience

The suggested audience is primarily Christian women, but it can be helpful to anyone looking to understand shame. Nelson discusses topics relating to parenting and marriage, but this does not make her book exclusive to parents and married couples. Her words are honest, sincere, and refreshing to the struggling Christian in search of healing.

Christian Impact

Nelson focuses clearly on the characters of God the Father and Jesus the Son throughout her book. She emphasizes God’s great worthiness as a source of comfort amidst struggles with personal unworthiness. He sent his son to cover shame and clothe his children in beauty before him. Nelson’s chapters rely heavily on scripture, and her chapter about shame and the church reminds readers that religious communities should be places where the shame-filled can flock to instead of run from.

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Unashamed: Healing Our Brokenness and Finding Freedom from Shame

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