Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sunday thoughts on shame

So, recently I read this blog post about shame over at All Things Reasonable written by Mike Adams (who is the hubby of one of my other favorite bloggers, Tara Adams). In this post Mike talks honestly about how shame divides us from other humans when we need them the most, how we all tend to buy into the concept that to show weakness is to be perceived as somehow "less", unworthy of love and friendship. As he says "Shame is a monster at our gates, which causes us to tremble and hide."

This post has been on my mind a lot, I have been back to the page numerous times to re-read Mike's thoughts, to try to take his words into my own heart and reflect them back into my life. I have always described myself as an "open book" type of person, my personal motto being, "Don't ask me unless you really want to know the answer". But am I really an open book? I definitely have secrets that bring me shame, things that no one knows (or very few people) that I wish I had never done. Words and actions that can never be taken back, never be undone. This shame has colored many of my most important relationships, often without the other party knowing anything was wrong.

And what about my most important relationship, the one with my Savior? I have no secrets there, but there is still shame. I know in my heart that I have been forgiven by God, that He has released me from the burden of my sin, and yet I cannot seem to forgive myself. I carry the shame like some kind of twisted badge of dishonor. What does this do to my relationship with God? If shame can divide me from other people, can you imagine what it is doing to my spiritual walk? So, what do I do??

The answer is both extremely simple and incredibly difficult for my human heart. I have to confess my shame, which is religious speak for talk to God about it. I just have to talk to Him about it, in the same way I would talk to you. And I have to keep talking. Every time my shame pokes its head up I have to tell God, to give him the opportunity to help me heal and overcome that shame. I think that part of the problem (at least for me) is that after my initial forgiveness I thought that was all I needed. "WOOHOO! I am forgiven!! Life is gonna be all rainbows, roses and sunshine from here on in! I am good to GO!". Too bad life doesn't really work like that, you don't get rainbows without rain, roses without thorns, and too much sunshine will leave you nursing a nasty sunburn!

Sure, I am forgiven, washed in the blood of the lamb (more religious speak) and made clean, but I am still human, still living on Earth, still fragile and easily distracted. In other words, still likely to sin, to hurt others (and myself) and feel shame. So, I have to keep the conversation going. I have to share my thoughts with my Savior, seek His guidance and His forgiveness as often as it takes to overcome my fear and shame. And when I am actively doing that, connecting with my fellow man gets a bit easier. Admitting my shame and healing those relationships that I value most becomes a realistic goal. Of course being human, I have a way of making this simple task complicated and difficult. Good thing I have a patient and loving Father (and that he gave me a patient and loving husband!).

We are not designed to live in shame, we are designed (fearfully and wonderfully made) to walk in the light of freedom and love. The key is to reject that shame, to offer it up to God and let him take it and fashion it into something new, something that can be used to connect us both to Him and to our fellow man. It may seem impossible but never forget, nothing is impossible with God! (Matt 19:26)


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Whew! I have been working on this post for weeks, I can't believe it's finally done. Well, sort of. There is one other thing I wanted to discuss about Mike's post. If you clicked over and read it (or if you are already familiar with his blog) you will note that Mike is an atheist. A nonbeliever. And yet his words have moved me, have made me think, have caused me to look deeper into myself and my walk of faith. I find that incredible and beautiful. There was a time in my life that I bought into the notion that I had nothing to learn from anyone who did not share my faith. In fact, I had been taught in my youth that to turn to any other source of inspiration other than the bible was to open the door to sin. The fact that I actually bought into that type of thinking shames me, but I was young. The young sometimes believe foolish things (so do the middle aged, but that's a story for another day!). Today, while I do study my Bible (though not as I should) and believe wholeheartedly in its message of salvation, I am more open minded. I believe that God speaks in many ways and I try to keep my heart open to His message wherever I may find it. I am thankful for the click of the mouse that lead me to Mike's blog, for his words that took root in my heart, and the nurturing of those words by God until they finally bloomed as my own in this post. It is my hope that these humble words might take root in your heart and work to move you into a closer walk with God and with those you hold dear. 



Mike's definition of faith, which is so similar to Hebrews 11:1. That makes my heart smile! 





2 comments:

  1. Hey Tamara,

    I just received your comment and came right over to read! Thanks for the link and for your thoughts!

    I really enjoyed reading your take on shame and I love how you've made this topic your own.

    Your closing thoughts really touched me deeply. Though I can't take credit for the quote about faith. I took that from a website: characterfirst.com

    I have worked really diligently to foster interfaith service and cooperation between my Unitarian Unversalist church and other churches in the area. I love to hear other people talk about similar values and you did it so beautifully, thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Mike, thank you for the inspiration! :)

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