I like these lines from Scott’s devotional yesterday: …I think it might mean that perhaps we shouldn’t label shame as good or bad. It’s something that exists and can be judged from person to person and situation to situation.
Do you remember that I suggested at the beginning of this series that we humans naturally swing on a pendulum, moving from one out-of-balance position, self-correcting with an extreme swing, and then, hopefully settling into a healthier middle ground?
Labelling shame as good or bad may be one way of describing the amplitude of a pendulum swing. (For those of you who have forgotten the terminology of pendulums, this is the full width of the swing.)
I wonder if we need to expand the conversation and add other elements into the discussion in order to have a fuller understanding of shame? I am curious to know if the unpleasant reactions I have to feeling shame are so uncomfortable as to inspire me to care more about altering how I feel than dealing with other elements of my life that might actually change my relationship with shame. I wonder.
For many years shame was a constant companion of mine. But in the last five years or so, my relationship with shame has shifted. It isn’t a constant companion. I have some theories about this, but I’m not sure that any of them are accurate or even matter.
Here’s what I’ve noticed. Shame slipped off into the night at some point without giving notice that it was moving on. Oh, I still have shame triggers. Don’t get me wrong on that point! But shame is no longer my constant companion. I do NOT feel shame every day or even every week. As I said, I have lots of thoughts on why there has been a shift. But the only point I can make on the subject that matters for this devotional series is this: if you are a person who has lived with shame dogging your heels, my experience is that this is not an inevitable state of being. Things can shift. If shame is your constant companion, I’d recommend a couple of things: one, ask God to continue his healing work in you (because toxic shame is, well, toxic) AND make time for a daily sit. For me, a daily sit is taking a few minutes morning and night to sit quietly, tell God that I know he exists and I know I am not god. I then acknowledge that because I am not God and He is – I sit quietly in silence as an act of surrender. I tell God that I sit waiting for Him to heal, tell, teach, correct, restore, or whatever else he wants to do with me. I admit that what he does during this time is none of my business, and I do not evaluate or judge the quiet time in any way. I close by thanking God for his healing presence. And then I carry on. My experience is that this shifts something in me that I believe makes shame feel either less welcome or less needed. But, hey, what do I know?