Shame, Charlatans, and What to Do About It
JUNE 6, 2023
Pay close attention to the nature of shame and how people use it in the world.
Though it is everywhere, those that find themselves in religious work will often use shame to control and manipulate outcomes because the results are almost immediate. Grace takes longer; grace requires presence. Shame produces short stints of manufactured obedience. Why? Because shame is not just about actions; shame is concerned with identity. Guilt says “I did something bad.” Shame says “I am bad” and when you are bad, you’ll operate from the core to change everything quickly. The human soul withers in the hot sun of Shame.
If you confess to one of these religious charlatans that there is lust in your heart, the Shamer will say, “What? Oh my lord! You really are that way, aren’t you? That must be awful. I’ve never been tempted like that.” Don’t miss that; the Shamer will pump you full of self-disgust; causing you to question your own self-worth, and even more so the love of God for such a person. The goal of Shame is to isolate you; causing you to feel as though you’re the only one who can’t get it right.
Shame leads to self-hatred. Grace leads to self-acceptance. But not cheap grace. Cheap grace isn’t ready for real life just like an unripe banana. It is hard and bitter inside. Real grace operates in relation to the God revealed in the face of Christ Jesus. It is on the grounds of his own life that we begin to grow tender towards the wound within. Rather than patching the wound with the dirty gauze of lust, we begin to sense the work of the Spirit as he moves toward the wound not so much as to cover its ugliness but to heal its pain. Yes, there will be scar tissue but you will be whole.
Spending years in therapy and Spiritual Direction has given me the permission, strength and language needed in order to address trauma, betrayal, death, grief, and loss. Had I not submitted to the wisdom and care of others I would not have been capable of navigating life’s challenges. Changing the way we think gives us the power to change the way we behave in this world. You wouldn’t be ashamed of going to the dentist for a toothache or a chiropractor because your back hurts. Why on earth should shame be attached to mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual health? Cut the Shamer off at the pass! Take the path of presence, vulnerability, wisdom, and tenderness with yourself. Why? Because those are the only means by which Jesus will relate to you.