Shame is an emotion with a purpose. Its purpose is to spur change in the one who feels the shame. Take note – the emotion, the experience, it has a reason for being.
Shame is usually misused. Not always. But usually.
In the World, shame pushes the one who has been shamed to hide. Note: Hiding is not changing. This is a misuse.
Matthew 10:26 tells us that there is nothing hidden that will not be known. One can therefore identify the lie or lies that the World is pushing on the person who is ashamed.
- “If you hide, you can continue as you are without changing. Just pretend that the thing of which you are ashamed doesn’t exist”.
- “You need to pretend that everything has always been perfect in your life. Scars are shameful”.
- “Messes are easy and fast to clean up. If you can’t clear the storm debris from your life within six weeks’ time, you’re weak. Weakness is shameful.”
- “You need have always been perfect.”
Let’s think this out in context of the body. I’ll talk about my own issues, because I think they’re fairly common. Feel free to insert your own – and discuss in the comment section.
I’m ashamed of my weight. I’ve been working hard to clear up the storm debris for years, but only this year have I found an effective shovel – and I had to employ someone to help me. (I’m ashamed I had to pay someone too – but that’s another discussion). My weight reveals the storms that came through my life decades ago. It reveals the failed attempts at clean up. It reveals the years I didn’t try. It does not reveal the truth of who I am – or how I behave – today. I wish it would go away instantly, but it won’t.
I’m ashamed of my aging process. Not ashamed of being 46, but I am ashamed of my 14yo self for not getting prescription skin care before the scarring (that didn’t show much before my 40s) kicked in. I’m ashamed of the crepey skin under my face because (see above) I didn’t shovel out the storm debris earlier, when my skin was somewhat more elastic. I’m ashamed of wasted years.
I’m ashamed of my inability to walk more quickly or run. I want to be just as capable as the people around me. I think of myself as a helper, not as one who is helped.
Let us now analyze. Shame at my weight functioned to finally push me to get the help that I needed. Did I need the help? Yes. The shovel I’m using that finally is working is complex and constantly changing. Does it matter what I think other people think about me? No. Is there a benefit in hiding? No. I need to dress the woman I am *now*, I need to stand tall and be who I am *now*. Shame serves no more function, now that it has stirred me to action. I can thank shame for getting me to this point, and then I can put it to bed.
Shame at my age serves very nearly no function at all. The only benefit that it has is having pushed me to a better skin care regime. I have earned my silver streaks, and they’re interesting and pretty. I’ll have a youthful face in Eternity. Now, I live in this one. I refuse the World’s lie that I should remain ageless. There is great value in maturity, wisdom, and growth. I strive for those, and take pride in being who I am.
Shame in my disability serves no function whatsoever. I work hard to have the greatest level of mobility and function possible. It is more than I was promised when I injured myself. Scars happen, and my past experiences have been of use to others – as well as radically restructuring my life in ways for which I will forever be grateful. My scars are part of who I am, and what I bring to the table. There is no need to hide.
What about you? What parts of your body are you ashamed of? What action do you need to change that which shames you? What do you need to embrace as part of who you are? Remember – nothing will remain hidden. Bring yourself out into the light.
Shame serves a function, but its function is only to stir you to change. Once that is done, thank it – and move on. You are not meant to live hiding in the shadows!