“To refuse God’s forgiveness is to step under a cloud of shame, which is a place God never intended us to be. Refusing to forgive ourselves and living in shame are one and the same. Just as forgiving others sets us free from the hate place, forgiving ourselves sets us free from the shame place.”- Sharon Jaynes
In Chapter 6 (“Leaving the Shame Place”) of When You Don’t Like Your Story, Sharon Jaynes begins with the defining characteristics of shame. Sharon cites scholar and psychologist Gershen Kaufman, who said:
“Shame is the most disturbing experience individuals ever have about themselves; no other emotion feels more deeply disturbing because in the moment of shame the self feels wounded from within.”
Furthermore, Sharon observes, shame serves as a zoom lens. As a result, it tightens your view so you see only your faults. Yet, some confuse shame and embarrassment. However, the two are quite different. Since embarrassment is temporary, no lasting effects on life occur. And we often find humor in embarrassing stories. Not so with shameful stories.
In addition, people often confuse guilt and shame. While guilt is a feeling, shame is a feeling that leads to a condition. We feel guilt as a result of what we’ve done. But we feel ashamed because of who we are. In other words, guilt says, ‘I made a mistake.’ But shame says, ‘I am a mistake.’
Therefore, shame drives the fear that people will dislike us if they know the truth about where we’ve come from or what we’ve done. We feel small, damaged, and never enough.
Finally, shame wraps its talons around our necks and squeezes. Above all, shame universally destroys destinies, dignity, and callings. It whispers that on one else is as bad as you – if others only knew. Shame’s victims keep silent.
When God asked Adam and Ever where they were, He wanted them to admit their actions. And that, Sharon notes, consists of the first step toward emerging from the shadow of shame that results from sin. Put another way – say it, name it.
Today’s question: What life events caused you to step under a cloud of shame? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “The devil sings you the song of shame”