Hope Eliminates Shame

A memory from my past whispers, “Shame on you,” and suddenly I am four years old again. I have spilled melted ice cream on the floor. An accident. A lack of mature motor skills. I know that now, but my four year-old self only heard the phrase, “Shame on you.” authenticity - shame

Last week, I finished the book “Daring Greatly” by Brené Brown and once again, I wondered about shame. How many times was shame placed irreverently and inadvertently on my infant soul?

How many times did I believe it, and invite that verdict inward so that as an adult, I am still reeling from the impact?

Shame began in the Garden of Eden when Adam said, “This woman you gave me….” He blamed Eve for the sin of eating the fruit, and he blamed God for giving him a woman who was not perfect. The serpent, aka Satan, used that seed of shame and since then has perpetrated this disease on all of Eve’s daughters.

Men also struggle with shame. When someone reminds them they are less than perfect – not a stud on the football field, not enough as a husband and father, not as handsome as Colin Firth (but of course – no one can compare to Colin Firth).

And on and on the shame goes, through the generations. We shame our children and each other. Why can’t you be like your brother?  Why are you bringing home a “C” when you should have earned an “A”?

Shouldn’t you lose a little bit of weight? Wear a different shade of makeup? Be more like the family in the pew ahead of you? Isn’t it past time for you to have a best seller?

And before we know it, we are again wallowing in puddles of muddy shame.

In our hearts, we know God does not place blame and shame on us. Yet, our brains play the same old tapes.

What Brené Brown writes about with such audacity is that becoming our vulnerable selves faces off against the shame and helps us be who God created us to be.

The joy of finding our authentic selves and living out of that reality is that no one can ever shame us again. 

I pray to God that I never shame my son or anyone else. To my knowledge, I have never used those words, “Shame on you,” and I hope I never imply them by rolled eyes, a sideways glance or a snickering sarcasm.

My hope is built on the fact that I am accepted by grace – with no qualifiers, and I want to extend that same grace to others. Because who we are is much more important than what we do or even what we never accomplish.

And even if the world and our culture doesn’t understand the difference, at least my soul knows the Divine one will never ever shame me.

Let’s challenge each other to be our authentic selves, to lay down our whispered past and find hope in the coming eternity. Let’s live out our lives in joyful abandon, always and forever — without shame.

©2015 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

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11 thoughts on “Hope Eliminates Shame

  1. I am also reminded that when we were small we heard and understood as a child. Even a “why won’t you ever go to sleep,” don’t you know better than to ____________, and more statements that we now see as benign told us we were “not good enough.” According to scientific evidence, this is all stored in the amygdala, that tiny portion of our brain that tries to decipher whether we should fight, fly, or freeze. Over the years it keeps trying to protect us by repeating to us the statements we heard as a child in a futile attempt to save us from harm. However, telling us we were “not enough” then was a lie and still is a lie. The answer, as I research this, is to acknowledge these thoughts and look for the beginning roots. We should look at these thoughts as an adult, thank our brain for its attempts to save us from harm, and begin to feed ourselves new truths. I Corinthians 13:11 KJV “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” This verse is about much more than being sinful as one who doesn’t know about Christ, I believe this verse is also about healing and hope. Much love to you.

  2. This is a very relevant subject for me. I have lived with WAY too much shame during my life, starting with my mother saying, “Bad girl, Debbie, bad girl.” Now at 52, guess what I say to myself? “I am bad.” Over and over until I catch myself or the Lord interrupts me and says, “Please don’t say that. You are not bad. You are my darling daughter.” Oh, how I want His tapes to run in my head, instead of the shame-filled ones! Thank you for writing on this.

    • Thanks, Debbie, for your honest confession about this subject. I think all of us hear those tapes running in our heads and we have to work against them. I sometimes suggest “Mirror love.” Just look in the mirror at your beautiful face, stare into your eyes and speak the truth, “I am God’s darling daughter. God loves me, and there is nothing about me that is bad.” Then repeat when necessary.

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