Brené Brown, Ph.D., describes shame as “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.”
So if that’s how we feel, the last thing we want to do is let others know, right?
I mean, how many of us want to admit that we wrestle with shame?
Confession (and from a place of deep vulnerability):
Every Sunday morning, I have significant anxiety. Not nerves, anxiety.
This is just a SMALL sampling of what goes through my head.
“What if this is not what it needs to be? What if I am not authentic to the theological meaning?”
“What if I bore them to tears?”
“What if I forget what I am trying to say?”
“What if they’ve just ‘had it’ and are ready for someone new on Sunday mornings/throughout the week?”
“Will they even come/attend? Or will they figure out there are way better ‘preachers’ down the road?”
“What if this is the Sunday/week that no one decides to give financially anymore, and we end up going belly up because I suck?”
I’m not exaggerating.
Nor am I telling you this seeking compliments or “atta-girls.”
Even though I know West is WAY MORE than what I bring to the table, because of my shame, I make stuff “all about me.” (and am ashamed of that – ha!)
This past Sunday, at the 10 am service, I shared that I, too, exist from places of deep shame. It stems from my childhood, and despite thousands of dollars of therapy over the years, until my experience with Johns Hopkins in their Religious Professionals Study, I functioned from that place of shame.
Those questions that the tapes in my head play still exist. Yet, now I have tools to combat them.
“The less we talk about shame, the more power it has over our lives,” Dr. Brown explains in her book Daring Greatly. “If we cultivate enough awareness about shame to name it and speak to it, we’ve cut it off at the knees.”
When we acknowledge shame and bring it out of darkness into light, we refuse to let it define us any longer.
Brown writes, “When we bury the story, we forever stay the subject of the story. If we own the story, we get to narrate the ending.”
This is where Jesus comes in.
Remember, earlier this week, I wrote,
“When you wrestle with shame, remember . . . Take the focus off yourself and put the focus on Jesus.”
What does that mean? And how does that help?
For a moment, look at Jesus and how he lived and loved.
Selflessly. Calling people out on their crap, yet never shunning or condemning them. Merely offering love. Always. Unconditionally.
The woman that others scorned, who had multiple sexual partners, Jesus accepted and loved.
The man that was supposed to be one of his best friends who, in times of duress, denied knowing him. And not just once, but three times. Jesus forgave and loved.
The people who beat him and hung him on a cross to kill him. Jesus forgave and loved.
The criminal who was dying beside him, Jesus, offered paradise and love.
The tax collector who stole/swindled people out of their money, Jesus accepted and loved.
Look, we can find ourselves in the story of being loved by Jesus. We can identify with one of the MANY people struggling with “stuff,” and we can focus on Jesus’ response.
EACH AND EVERY SINGLE TIME – it was love!
Give voice to your shame. Through prayer and meditation, give voice to it. Confess it. Bring it to light.
Then feel the power of Love wash over you in such a way that you know you no longer have to be imprisoned by shame.
Sunday mornings are different for me now than they were 5 – 10 years ago.
The same negative tapes play in my head. But now, I try to focus not on myself but on The One who offers Light and Life.
If I can, so can you.
“I am called and gifted by God. I am worthy, I am loved, I am enough.”
Go be ENOUGH!