When Hope Eliminates Shame

A memory from my past whispers, “Shame on you,” and suddenly I am four years old again. I have spilled my 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.”

strong woman in golden circle with adjectives describing her

That phrase was often used in the 1950s-60s of parenting. I heard it repeated to my siblings, my cousins, my schoolmates.

When I finished reading the book, Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, I wondered about shame. How many times was shame placed irreverently and inadvertently on others? How often is it still used as a curse?

How many times did I believe it and invite its verdict inward. As an adult, I still reel from its impact.

Shame toward women began in the Garden of Eden when Adam complained to God, “This woman you gave me . . . .” Adam 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 blame shame. Since then, he has perpetrated this mental and emotional disease on many of Eve’s daughters.

Men may 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).

On and on the shame travels, through the generations. We shame our children and each other. “Why can’t you be more like your brother? Sister? Why are you bringing home a ‘C’ when you should be earning an ‘A’?”

Shouldn’t you lose a little weight? Wear a different shade of makeup? Move up the corporate ladder? Be more like the family in the pew ahead of you? Isn’t it past time for you to have written a bestseller? Why do you have such an old car? Why haven’t you updated your kitchen?

And before we know it, we are again wallowing in the puddles of muddy shame. In our souls, we know God does not place shame on us. Yet, our brains can play the same old tapes.

What Brene 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 the words, “Shame on you.” I hope to never imply them with rolled eyes, a sideways glance, or 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 what we accomplish.

And even if the world and our current culture does not 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. To find hope in the coming eternity. Let’s live our lives in joyful abandon. Always and forever — without shame.

©2024 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved

Image by johnhain/Pixabay

To celebrate International Women’s Month, check out how Abigail moved past her shame in No Visible Scars.

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