In you, O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame! Psalm 71:1
Shame. It entered the world when we ate the fruit and exposed our nakedness.
Shame is what keeps us vigilantly manipulating our public images, throwing up misdirection with perfect looking photos, saying we are fine through forced smiles, pretending we are too busy to spend time with others, giving a firm handshake while we make sure to look the other person in the eye in an attempt to convey confidence.
Shame can manifest in so many ways. Shame can be hard to detect. Not only in others but in ourselves as well. Maybe even more so in ourselves. Maybe, because it is normal operating procedure in our own lives, we aren't able to clearly see how we have come to depend on it to protect us. Shame always serves a purpose because it is based on a false belief that I am broken in some way, and if others "saw" how I am broken, I would face consequences. Never positive consequences. PAINFUL consequences. So we have to hide. We are really good at this. Often so good we deceive ourselves as well as others.
I had a dear friend, who at the age of 67 confessed that he had never learned to read. He had hidden this fact his entire life. Over 67 years of life he had built a successful business, was an elder in his church, he had raised his children, taken in foster children, regularly attended bible studies and small groups with bible open in his lap. All the while hiding his secret for 67 years because he thought that people would think he was stupid, broken.
His weeping as he released his deepest fear communicated the soul wrenching pain he experienced as he finally shared his secret. No one rejected him. We loved him all the more for trusting us enough to share. Unfortunately, he died a few years later leaving an amazing legacy, having touched many, many lives.
If he had been able to share this earlier in life, the people around him could have taught him to read. He would have escaped his shame decades ago if only he would have share it sooner.
This is what shame does, it steals life from us. Squeezing slowly, day by day, until our life is gone. Unless we release it.
God's love for us in not diminished by our sin and faults. In fact he seeks us out so he can heal our shame. Dr. Ted Roberts, Pastor and founder of Pure Desire Ministries which counsels men and women in dealing with shame says, "We are wounded in community and we find our healing in community".
It is when we can find a safe, loving community where we can share our hurts, fears, and doubts that we can let the shame drift away. Isn't this what the church should be? Yes. Let it start with you and I.
Are you a safe person?
Are you involved in community where you can be open and venerable?