Posted by: Botolff | September 27, 2009

What do I do with shame?

I have pondered much on these posts about shame.  Does that mean I think you should be more inclined to believe what I say as a result?  No.  It means that I believe this topic is central to our human experience, and requires a lot of thought to step into it.  I also believe that the topic of shame is rarely addressed…because we are too ashamed to risk it.  Shame is prevalent and powerful, deceiving and seductive, confusing, full of fear at times, but also a catalyst to hope.  Shame is real, and deeply rooted in our lives.  Because WE have impressed it upon us or drawn it out of us?  Yes, but I believe even more because evil is the author of it and resides very close to it, directing it to wreak havoc in the very core of our souls.  I don’t take talking about shame lightly, because we are full of it.  WE are full of it.  So much so that even the mention of a conversation about it, often feels threatening and causes more of it.  I don’t believe this topic of shame should be treated lightly, because the weight of shame on us is often more than any of us can seem to bare…on a really good day.

So, what do we do with shame?  Well, I think it depends on where it’s coming from.  But one thing I believe very strongly is that it’s not healthy to deny shame, or to wallow in it.  To deny it bends us towards being perpetrators of it, and to wallow in it suggests we’ve resigned ourselves to being victims of it.  Either one is not good, and both will need to be addressed in every one of our lives if we want to find some freedom from the shame that haunts us.

In some of the posts ahead I will be talking about what we do with other people’s shame (that which we have been taught to hold for them, as well as the shame someone is trying to put on us); and our own shame (that which we are responsible for creating in our own lives and other’s).  But amidst my written pondering, and any “tips and techniques” which may surface as a result, I think it’s most important to remember…God.  

You see, I don’t believe we can, nor should we, try to extricate shame from our lives.  It is impossible to live life without shame, even with the purest of hearts.  As a result, shame becomes of the utmost value to us.  For that which evil intended to do harm with, I believe God will create goodness from, if we are willing (not commanded) to see.  But I don’t know where you are with your story, and I want to be careful not to add more shame for you by making directive statements about God and “our” stories.  So instead, I thought I would share a little bit about my journey as of late and hope that it can be of some insight into or assistance with your own.

But that will have to wait until next time, because the sun is out and I would like to express my gratitude for it by experiencing some of it, instead of just looking at it.



  1. Jamie…

    Thanks for taking the risk and addressing the subject of shame…

    I recognize that the shame I have acknowledged in my own life is a small part of what I carry with me each day. I can relate it to the icebergs I recently saw in Alaska…we see only a small portion…it’s the unseen that can be so devastating.

    Looking forward to your thoughts…anticipating the pain and the hope…

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