Shame is a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. To be ashamed is to be embarrassed by my actions, characteristics or associations. It is also when I am reluctant to do something for fear of embarrassment or humiliation.
I remember playing a game of truth or dare while drinking with “friends” many years ago. It was my turn, and I was challenged to take the dare because the truth was too easy… (boring). I didn’t have a problem telling the truth with this group because none of them knew me well enough to ask the things that would be incriminating or embarrassing. Not to mention the fact that I don’t get embarrassed by things that most (women) would get embarrassed about. Because we were drinking, I was nervous about the dare and I knew it was going to be ridiculous….and it was. Long story short I did what I did not have to do, and I was ashamed.
I often think back on the things that I’ve done while in the shower. I’m not sure if that’s symbolic of my need to cleanse myself of the shameful events of my past, but none the less, it’s what I do. While I’m standing there I’ll have an occasional unintentional reminiscent moment which causes me to shudder, then ask the obvious question of myself, “why did I do that?”
I look at the teenagers that walk through the mall cussing, sagging and behaving very disrespectfully with no care about the small children or the elders and frankly no care for how bad they are making themselves look, and I remember when that was me. I look at the young girls wearing next to nothing, putting themselves on display and leaving virtually nothing to the imagination, with disgust, but then I remind myself that once upon a time that was me. When I was doing those things I wasn’t thinking about anybody but myself. If I felt good and looked good, it didn’t matter what anyone thought. The possibility that a little girl passing me in the mall might be influenced by my behavior and could possibly put herself in harm’s way trying to do what I was doing was the furthest thing from my mind.
The light bulb moment that brought it all home for me was the day that my then 17-year-old daughter (now 28) told me that she was an adult and wanted to move out. Her words, “I’m going to do me.” This is something you hear people say all the time. This is a very problematic statement for obvious reasons, but most will try to justify it. No matter how you try to justify it, it will always be a promotion of selfishness (lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure). We as humans are given liberty with the necessary boundaries, guidelines, and parameters, but it never seems to be enough. We always want to escape the necessary boundaries. The excuse for this behavior is “I’m grown.” Extreme behavior is a characteristic that is worn proudly by the entire human race. A lyric by Andy Mineo ‘You wanna know the real problem in America? Always has been and it always will be me. If you had any other answer, you’ve been deceived.” MAN that right there is the absolute truth although I would change “America” to “World” and I would change the last line to “If you had any other answer you’ve allowed yourself to be deceived.”
Ashamed of Me
Let’s look at something super simple and decide for ourselves if it makes any sense. So when you are a child, you’re discouraged from using profane language, drinking, smoking and pre-marital sex. All of these things are frowned upon when you’re young because they aren’t good for you and could lead to bad things…….BUT as soon as you turn 21 it’s party time. All the things that were bad for you before are now a part of what makes life fun?
I was determined, or so I thought, to be a virgin until I was married, then he came along. He was funny; he wasn’t extremely handsome from my point of view, but fun is a big winner for me. He persuaded; I told him that I was saving myself for my husband….I was sixteen at the time. Long story short I gave in and by eighteen my name was added to the statistics of teen pregnancy. We know all the things that we are “supposed” to do. The things that will help us and keep us on the right track are in God’s word. He even told us exactly what to do in the time of trouble. He gave us very clear and concise instructions but time and time again we choose to do things our way. All throughout history we have seen how doing things our way has worked out for us. I have to admit shame for the fact that saying I believe God was something I did because I was supposed to. It was easy for me to attach myself to a natural fight for right, coming up with all kinds of brilliant ideas to battle against the “oppressor” regardless of who it was. I would enter into these fights without consulting with God and even if I did pray and ask for help or guidance, I rarely waited for the answer. For those times I am ashamed. When I recognized that I was a pretender and not at all faithful to the Word (God’s word) as I thought I was, I was very ashamed.
In these very trying times, I am challenged to choose God over the plans and ideas of my own and of really smart people, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness.” “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”
Choosing to Trust
I’m probably considered a radical believer because when God says that fasting and praying will loose the bands of wickedness, undo heavy burdens, let the oppressed go free and break every yoke, I believe Him. In discussions with believers and even pastors, I’m asked, “What else am I going to do besides fast and pray?” In other words what natural ideas am I going to come up with to add to GOD? The same God that is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent.…….ummmm am I the only one who understands how utterly counterintuitive that is? Well, I won’t come up with any natural ideas; I will continue to go to His word. I will fast and pray, I will put on the whole armor of God, I will study to show myself approved unto God, I will worship in spirit and truth, I will share the Gospel, I will believe God, and I will stop and listen to Him.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” -2 Timothy 2:15
About the Author
This post was submitted by Terri Harrison who blogs at My 40 Something Life.