Book club hosted by Claire Musters



She Speaks Fire: Battling shame, reigniting your faith, and claiming your purpose By Mariela Rosario (Thomas Nelson, 978-1400237623)  

Mariela is the founder of the She Speaks Fire community, a ministry that seeks to help women walk free of past hurts. In her deeply inspiring, challenging and practical book, Mariela is very open and honest about the pain from her childhood that caused her to seek love and affirmation from all sorts of places as an adult – accepting abusive relationships and becoming addicted to drugs in the process. It was an encounter with God while at home that turned her life around, although she continued to battle shame. In the years since then, she has discovered the power of speaking out our stories, including our shame, in order to help one another. Too often we are scared of what others might think – and scared of the emotions that may rise up as we revisit our stories – but Mariela encourages us to look beyond our fear and step out to live more authentically, refusing the lies that our enemy tries to get us to believe.

Centred around the biblical story of the Garden of Eden, Mariela draws out eight lessons we can learn in the gardens of our own lives about: identity, purpose, community, approval, boundaries, senses, lies and nakedness. Throughout the book, she willingly shares how she has learned these lessons in her own life, and doesn’t sugarcoat the reality of the lies we believe and how determined we have to be to stand against them. At the end of each chapter is a box ‘speaking fire into…’ in which she invites the reader to speak out declarations of truth into the specific area they have just been looking at. 

Could you explain how shame took a hold in your own life?

A very distinct memory that I share in chapter one is having nobody show up for my first birthday party at age ten. I remember the overwhelming desire to disappear and not be seen in the emotional pain that I found myself in, so hidden places became my habitation. I was convinced that I could not be seen for who I was because who I was wasn’t worth the time or attention of the world around.  

As I moved into adolescence, shame manifested in various ways in my life. I struggled with low self-esteem and constantly sought validation and approval from others. I also developed perfectionistic tendencies, constantly trying to control every aspect of my life and hiding any perceived flaws or vulnerabilities. This led to a constant fear of failure and deep feelings of unworthiness.

Shame also affected my relationships, as I struggled to let people get close to me and share my authentic self. I feared being rejected, judged or abandoned if people saw the ‘real’ me, so I stayed guarded and kept others at a distance, even those closest to me.

How did shame play out in your day-to-day life as an adult?

I constantly sought validation and approval from others, believing that I was not enough on my own. I would avoid any situation that could potentially trigger feelings of shame and would go to great lengths to hide my true self. This led to isolating behaviour and a fear of vulnerability, as I was afraid of being judged and rejected.

I struggled to fully trust and open up to others. I was always on guard, trying to prevent anyone from seeing my flaws and imperfections. This created distance and barriers in my relationships, as I was afraid of being truly known and rejected.

In my career, shame manifested in the form of imposter syndrome and constantly doubting my abilities and accomplishments. Despite external success, I never felt like I deserved it and was always seeking external validation to alleviate the shame I felt inside.

Please you could describe the moment when God broke in?

For 29 years, I had lived without a relationship with him and had been struggling with shame, addiction and brokenness. But in the midst of all this, something inside my heart invited me to open up the Bible one night at 3am, and that’s when God met me in a supernatural way.

I began reading about how God created the heavens and the earth and created male and female. As an artist myself, I understood the intention and expression behind every creation. And in that moment, I had a revelation of my true identity in him. I realised that I was not a burden to this world, but a gift given by God. It was like a veil was lifted from my eyes, and I could see everything clearly for the first time.

In that moment, I also experienced a supernatural deliverance from all of my addictions. I knew that it was God’s power at work in my life, and I couldn’t deny the love and grace that he had shown me. From that day on, I began following Jesus with all my heart.

Why do you think shame has such a hold on us, even as Christians?

Shame is a powerful emotion but we may not realise that it is operating in our lives, and therefore we are unable to address it. Satan, who is often referred to as the father of lies, uses shame as a weapon to attack and deceive us, just as he did in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. By filling our minds with lies and distorted beliefs about ourselves and our worth, he keeps us trapped in a cycle of shame and guilt.

Unhealed trauma can also contribute to the strength of shame in our lives. When we have experienced painful or traumatic events, it can leave deep wounds that can manifest as shame. We may feel like we are damaged or unworthy, and these feelings of shame can linger for years if not properly addressed and healed.

Another factor that can contribute to the hold of shame on us is comparison. In a world where everyone’s lives are on display through social media and other platforms, it is easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others. We may feel inadequate or like we are not measuring up to a certain standard, leading to feelings of shame and self-doubt.

You structure the book around ‘garden lessons’ – could you explain why?

In my exploration, I discovered that the Garden of Eden serves as a perfect roadmap for overcoming shame. Starting from the very beginning, the garden has much significance as it is the place where God first mentioned that humans were free from shame. 

The garden was a place of innocence, without any hint of shame or guilt. However, with the Fall, shame entered the human experience and has been plaguing us ever since.

As I delved into the concept of shame and its origins, my curiosity led me to wonder what the world was like before shame existed. How did this emotion enter our lives and why? This journey of seeking answers led me to the idea of using garden lessons as a guide to understanding and overcoming shame.

What is the most important lesson you hope your readers will glean from your book?

The central message of this book is a powerful and transformative one: that shame has no place in the lives of those who believe in Christ Jesus. It is a lesson that is vital for all readers to understand and embrace. Shame is a toxic emotion that can falsely convince us that we are unworthy, unlovable and fundamentally flawed. 

I firmly believe that God has created each and every one of us as beautiful and unique individuals. However, the presence of shame in our lives often causes us to hide our true selves, to shrink away from the world, and to deny our own worth. This book encourages readers to break free from these destructive patterns and to boldly step into the fullness of who they are in Christ Jesus.

I hope that through this book, readers will be inspired to cast off the cloak of shame and embrace their true selves, unashamedly and unapologetically. I want readers to emerge with a renewed sense of purpose and confidence, fully equipped to face the world and share their unique gifts and talents with others. With Christ by our side, there is no need for shame; instead, we can live an authentic and free life.

Mariela Rosario on: The books that have changed my life


The Garden Within by Anita Phillips

This book has greatly impacted my life, as it taught me the power of self-reflection and self-care. Dr Anita has a revolutionary revelation about the concept of tending to our inner garden, cultivating our minds and souls as we would a beautiful garden. This book has helped me develop a deeper understanding of my thoughts, emotions and spiritual wellbeing. This is a must read!


Why Am I Like This?  by Kobe Campbell

As someone who has struggled with mental health, this book has had a profound impact on me. Kobe is a trauma therapist who through this beautiful work shares her personal experiences and struggles, as well as providing insight and advice on how to navigate through difficult and

hard-to-explain trauma. Her words have given me comfort and hope, and have helped me better understand and cope with my own struggles.


The Soul of Shame by Curt Thompson

Thompson’s book has changed the way I perceive and deal with shame, both in my personal life and in my interactions with others. He explores the origins and effects of shame on our brains and relationships, and offers practical ways to overcome and heal from it.