Watch | Listen
We’re going to get to what Jesus teaches us about shame. But first, we need to tease shame out from two other words we often use interchangeably with it.
And those are embarrassment and guilt.
We end up switching these three words out for one another when we talk, because all three make us feel pretty similar.
Whether we are embarrassed or guilty or ashamed, we might feel our face flush, our palms sweat, our heart race. All of these feelings make us cringe.
But they are, nonetheless, really different in their cause and especially in where they take us.
Let’s start with embarrassment.
Embarrassment happens when we do something foolish or uncomfortable or even gross, especially in front of someone else.
For example, I was embarrassed when I got all the way to the top of a five flight staircase for a water slide, then chickened out, and how to walk all the way back down the stairs to the ground squeezing past the other kids waiting in line for the slide. That was embarrassing.
And it was especially embarrassing because I was 30 years old.
Or, for another example, I was embarrassed when I was talking with my hands one afternoon like I always do and forgot I was holding my cell phone and it flew out of my hands and right into a lake.
And I was especially embarrassed when we took it into the cell phone store to have it fixed, and water kept dripping out of it, after I told them “I don’t why it’s not working!”
So that’s embarrassment.
Then there’s guilt. This one has some of the same effect on us as embarrassment – the flushed face, the sweaty palms – and may have started with a foolish or stupid action, but it comes with the added awareness of having done something wrong, especially if it hurt someone else. Guilt is a tough one.
But guilt has one small positive piece. Sometimes it actually motivates us to become better people, to repent, to make things right. We’ll look at that more later.
But then there is this third one. The insidious cousin of the other two. And that’s shame. Again, flushed face, racing heart, sweaty palms.
But here’s why it’s different.
Shame makes us feel not just that we did something bad, but that we ARE bad.
So embarrassment is when we say “I did this foolish or even horrible thing” and guilt says “I did this horrible thing and it hurt someone” but shame says “I am horrible and wrong.”
Today we are going to focus in on this last one. Because we dole shame out, all the time.
We shame other people by looking at their lives and deciding who they are because of what we observe and perceive as breaking our version of the moral code.
And we shame ourselves.
Continue reading “Letting Go of Shame”