I was invited to join a group who would be critiquing our friend, the speaker. She wanted feedback from those who would be honest and helpful. She comes to this point in her talk on “Grieving Maternal Loss”, where she speaks about “Shame”, and how it becomes like a storm…A Shame Storm. She continues talking, and it’s as if I’m stuck in this place where I see shame swirling dark around me, and it is an ominous storm. It is a current storm. It has nothing to do with my friend’s topic, and everything to do with the bucket-loads of shame that I had been carrying around…for years.
I smile and help stack chairs; get into my car and about 2 miles down the road, I break wide open. So much shame. I’m so broken; so flawed; damaged, shameful.
This did not happen twenty years ago, when I started truly facing my past. It didn’t happen eight years ago, when I had to go back to counseling (for the third time) to confront the anxiety that was smothering me. This happened just over a year and a half ago. I was in a good place. I hadn’t named “SHAME” as a trigger. In fact, I discovered that shame was one body of water I had not sailed upon. I can genuinely say I had not even realized shame was an issue for me, until that night, driving home.
As the days passed, and the storm raged, my friend shared a book title and author with me. She highly recommended I read Daring Greatly by Brene’ Brown. I sailed through the first chapter of the book; cried a lot; put it in my book basket, and didn’t pick it up again until last week.
I’m like any of you reading this. I don’t like how shame feels. I want to pretend I’m still in a good place, and ignore the shame storm.
That’s just it. As I turn the pages, this time with a highlighter, I’m understanding that being here and naming my shame, is actually a good place; a healthy place.
Brene’ says, “We all have shame. Shame is universal and one of the most primitive human emotions that we experience. We are all afraid to talk about shame. The less we talk about it, the more control it has over our lives. Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.”
It’s good to define it. It’s better to name it; speak to it.
“Shame derives is power from being unspeakable. That’s why it loves perfectionists–it’s so easy to keep us quiet. If we cultivate enough awareness about shame to name it and speak to it, we’ve basically cut it off at the knees. Shame hates having words wrapped around it. If we speak shame, it begins to wither.” (Brene’ Brown)
SHAME reminds me of CONDEMNATION.
Condemnation: n. the expression of very strong disapproval.
Here is what God’s Living Word has to say about condemnation:
“So now, there is no condemnation (shame) to those who belong to Jesus Christ. And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin, that leads to death.” – Romans 8:1
No shame. No SHAME! NO SHAME!!!
As I read about speaking to shame, I remember this project that Jennifer Rothschild has us do in her study Me Myself & Lies.
When Shame roars “God doesn’t listen to you!”
I say, “He hears their cries and saves them.” (Psalm 145:18-19)
When Shame roars “You have no value or purpose!”
I say, “Fear not, I have redeemed you. I have summoned you by name, you are Mine.” (Isaiah 43:1-2)
When Shame roars, “Your problem is unfixable!”
I say, “Nothing is too hard for God.” (Jeremiah 32:17)
When Shame roars, “You are abandoned!”
I say, “If God is for you, who can be against you?” (Romans 8:31)
When Shame roars, “You are a loser!”
I say, “In all, you are more than conquerors.” (Romans 8:37)
When Shame roars, “You’ve blown it. God can’t accept you!”
I say, “Nothing can separate me from the love of God.” (Romans 8:38-39)
When Shame roars, “Nobody cares about you!”
I say, “He comforts us in our troubles.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
When shame roars, “You have no willpower!”
I say, “God has given me the spirit of power, love, and a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
I’m continuing to read this book, and learning much as I go about combating shame with vulnerability and courage. And I’m also combating shame by speaking God’s Word to it. If shame hates having words wrapped around it, I will wrap the entire Word of God around every single condemning shame-filled thought!
This I do know: I am not alone. You are not alone.
“When you go through deep waters (or shame storms) I will be with you.” – God (Isaiah 43:2)