ShameShame is defined by dictionary.com as "the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc. done by oneself or another." We've all been there, embarrassed, guilty, humiliated by one thing or another, picked on, mocked. But there was a time before shame became part of your existence.
My grandparents and I had an evening ritual every night that I stayed with them. After dinner, we would turn on Lawrence Welk, and I would situate myself upon an old iron and leather foot stool. That little stool became my platform. The living room floor was my stage. I sang and danced with my whole self during that hour, and my grandparents clapped and cheered me on. It didn't matter that I didn't know the words or the melodies or the dance steps. I sang and danced my little heart out. I knew no shame in those moments.
Shame is not something that occurs from inside ourselves, initially. As we grow and become more aware of the social constraints around us, as others point out our flaws and mistakes, as we watch the people around us and learn from them, as we are ridiculed and humiliated, we react by feeling shame. We become embarrassed of ourselves or the people around us. I was so confused when my classmates started calling me names, because in my mind, I had no reason to be ashamed. I had done nothing wrong. Yet when my friends began taunting me, I was overcome with feelings of humiliation and self-consciousness.
Adam and Eve had no shame, originally. "And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed." Genesis 2:25 They were naked. And they were not ashamed. They had not been taught that nakedness was taboo. They had not experienced guilt or sin. They were innocent and free to do as they pleased, within the boundaries God had set before them. No one had told them that they SHOULD be ashamed or that there was anything wrong with their nakedness. Until they ate of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. "Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings." Genesis 3:7 When God came to speak with them after this, He was not pleased. "Who told you that you were naked?" Genesis 3:11 Shame was not part of God's plan for Adam and Eve. And it is not part of His plan for you and I, either.
LessHis plan for each of us is that we must become less so that He can become more.
Fearless. "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7
Guiltless "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." Romans 3:23-24
Angerless "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:31-32
Less me, more God. "He must increase, but I must decrease." John 3:30
Shame is not of God. It is put upon us by the world, but we do not have to accept it. We don't have to take on the constraints that others place upon us. We don't have to accept their labels as true. Instead, we can take hold of the Less that God has for us. We can be fearless. We can be guiltless. Like that little girl who once stood upon a stool and shared her heart for all the world to see, we can be shameless!
This post is part of Suzie Eller's #livefreeThursday #shameless