June 14, 2004
No Shame - Part 2
"When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my
groaning all day long" (Tehillim / Psalms 32:3).
Last week I mentioned how I had been struggling with
shame in my own life. You may or may not have noticed
that while I wrote about how a recent experience
helped me with my feelings of shame, I never got into
the details of it.
Feelings of shame may arise due to our doing shameful
acts, others telling us that we have done shameful
acts – whether we really have or not, or both. The
feelings and effects of shame are always the same: we
want to cover up or we want to run away and hide.
However we deal with it, we mustn't let others see us
or associate us with that thing that we are shameful
In my case I was dealing with the receiving of very
heavy criticism. While I knew there was some truth in
what was told me, I was still working through the
content of the things said. I wasn't clear yet as to
what was accurate, what things I needed to address,
what was coming out of personality differences, what
was based on misunderstanding, and so on.
It was a bit of a revelation to me to discover that I
was burdened by something beyond just the bare facts
of the situation. I was doubting myself. I was angry
and confused. As a result my first tendency was to run
away and hide, so that I didn't have to deal with this
at all. I didn't want anyone to think I was bad or
incompetent. So instead of dealing with the situation
head on, I wanted to cover it over. I wanted to run
away. I was ashamed.
I don't know about you, but I think for some of us
receiving criticism is like having someone gazing at
our nakedness. We feel exposed – so we want to protect
ourselves by covering up. Notice that we can be in
this state whether we have really done wrong or not.
Shame is so destructive, because it prevents us from
facing the truth, whatever that truth might be.
Actually we never have to feel shame. God has provided
the remedy. Just as God provided effective covering
for Adam and Eve who desperately tried to cover their
own shame with fig leaves, so God has provided us with
adequate covering through the Messiah.
According to the Psalm read earlier, David knew the
agony of trying to hide his sin. But when he came to
the place where he could openly admit his wrong, he
"Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover
up my iniquity. I said, 'I will confess my
transgressions to the LORD' - and you forgave the
guilt of my sin" (Tehillim / Psalms 32:5).
We never need to hide. Even when we do serious wrong,
the only way to experience true forgiveness and
freedom from shame is to bring ourselves and our life
situations into the open. If we would allow ourselves
to see ourselves as we really are, and look to God to
cover us, then we will be free from shame.