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.”
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