So too with our potential to feel shame it was given to make us aware ahead of time of right and wrong which will cause our conscience to behave towards God but when attached to us albeit by a lie related to something which has happened or is happening, importantly not always something which we have done wrong, it is the thing which covers us with a veneer that actually keeps us from the hand and mercy of God. In Genesis after the fall it is recorded that Adam hid. He didn’t hide from God, but rather the presence of God. In fact the capacity to not feel shame is seen in the bible, it is a relative of hardness of heart!
They were unable to feel shame. Zeph 3:5
Having met my shame with a diagnosis of cancer I began to find others who felt this shame for something which they had not done or caused and yet a conspiracy can quickly begin taking the well meaning words of advice and comfort and twisting them into a reason for self blame, doubt and hence shame.
It can be propelled in the healthiest of environments. The relation between diet, exercise and illness is gaining rightful and greater ground but it can insidiously be converted to a source of self criticism leading to shame. It can easily become a feeling that if I had lived right I wouldn’t be sick. We are also learning a lot about how thoughts can to cause illness, made popular by Henry Wright (book title) and once again we may by our behaviors and thoughts have contributed to our disease. Once again there is a danger in shame, if I hadn’t done this or that and the conclusion of causing our own illness and for that feeling shame.
The commonality of my experience in others began to surprise me. It was common, yet also strangely complex in the overlapping reasons I was discovering for shame to enter uninvited. Added to the diet and thought life contributors was the surprise that in a culture that believes in the supernatural and the faith to believe in healing there is another cause of shame. When we passionately believe in and for healing and that healing doesn’t come as we expect or believe there is another place for shame to linger again preventing relationship with the one who bore our sorrow, sickness, sins and shame! Is this me preventing this, have I done something wrong?
Then for me as others with illnesses such as prostate cancer, breast cancer, cervical or uterine and no doubt others there is the threat to our identity as men or women unable to function as we were created to be.
Thrown into this complex world of whispering shame I realized that this was a part of the fall. That moment when Adam ate of the fruit of the tree his response was to hide. The response which should have come first and prevented him, his God given conscience became the response after the action which caused him to hide from the one who alone is able to forgive. That response echoes in every one of us who foolishly hide our stuff from an all seeing and knowing God. In fact we see in Genesis that it is the presence which Adam hid from and that will be replayed by us if we allow shame to be the hiding place created by the whispering inner voice.
I began to discover that the greatest way to attack shame in me or others is authenticity. If I am real with me God and others then shame is exposed, removed and I can let God know where I am. Authenticity belongs to the Kingdom, confess your sins one to another, shame belongs with the religious sprits, they that will do all they can to keep us from an authentic relationship with God. The same sprit that caused Pharisees to invent rituals which hide sinful behavior. Jesus addressed them telling them that the cup was clean on the outside but not the inside. Jesus came and invited us to confess our sins so that they can be washed and cleansed and our access to God be fully realized! His message was clear the first Adam hid, the second Adam removed any reason to hide!