The night Marc left earth I blurted out …. ‘It’s not over’. I don’t know why I said it but I think I was instinctively saying his legacy wasn’t going to be forgotten. Now I realize my life would come back into contact with some long known but forgotten friends.
For one thing, I got re-acquainted with an old friend/adversary since my beloved son was murdered. His name is shame. I say friend cause I forgot how he’s a necessary part of my life, your life! I say adversary cause I didn’t know how much shame had permeated my life not only thru the crime, but in other levels I just hid underneath. Cultural shame, family shame can be as strong as moral shame! That’s not how it’s supposed to be –
Shame’s had a rotten time of it for some years, what with everyone wanting to do what their friend or co-worker is doing, or what our culture many times promotes, whether it’s right or not. And often parents and teachers almost condone shameful behavior by glossing over or not correcting wrong attitudes or actions when they see it.
Having to deal with tragedy and painful facts about human behavior at it’s lowest point brought shame back into my life big time! I’ve been reminded how important shame is and how we moral people like to think our minor infractions are often justified by the ‘times’ being so stressful or freewheeling.
Shame says certain behaviors or attitudes are going to cause you pain if you’re too friendly with them. He says if we try to block him out he’ll just give us nightmares or lead us into confusion, addiction, more bad choices. He’s trying to get our attention but we generally dismiss him and take a pill or drink to block his voice. And all it does is put off the pain and make it harder to break thru into clarity again. Sometimes we need to ‘fall’ just so we can face the fact we feel bad inside, and need to correct an attitude or desire in ourself.
Shame and guilt are often tied together. Guilt is judicial in character; shame is relational. Shame relates to how we view ourselves, others after a particular act was committed. Shame shows evidence of a conscience.
Sometimes shame makes us feel worse than guilt.
Many times we don’t know what’s wrong and seek a therapist, when it could be something we can easily correct in ourselves if we looked at our conscience or motives. I should feel guilty if I stole a CD but I should also feel ‘shame’ for having stooped so low as to damage my character or reputation.
Shame for real transgressions is a part of the way God made us. God wants us to have a gnawing inside if we are guilty and don’t deal with our wrong behavior. He gives us shame so we avoid certain attitudes if we want to feel good about ourselves. God makes something ‘shameful’ cause He doesn’t want us to demean ourselves or others.
Shame is there to remind us to stay away from certain people or activities where we’ll be pulled into lying, or ‘sinning’. Shame keeps us safe from getting into trouble, hurting others or ourselves. God doesn’t want us to ‘follow’ the crowd and be led down some path that will be painful to retreat from. Some sins can hurt us for years, even life!
Shame came around big time after Marc went to heaven. He said, ‘I’m one big reason people feel bad about murder’! They know it’s a shameful thing to happen to people unarmed, to a good man ….. to a deeply loving mom! People think that shame belongs to the murderer or the victims family and not to society. They’re wrong. A city can carry shame for any number of crimes, behaviors they are lax about or condone.
More and more we’re becoming immune to shame, which is really tragic! What’s sad nowadays is that our families, schools, even churches aren’t sharing this truth to anyone, so people are often not living with a clear conscience as their guide. We’re learning at too young an age to judge a person by their looks, money, talents instead of their character. Sometimes a family gives off strong ‘don’ts’ that we learn very early, and we are being made into little robots of our family’s heritage and tastes and we squelch the individuals need to develop their God given conscience. Our conscience is a precious thing, it needs protecting!
* Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary ¹ gives this definition: Shame – A negative emotion caused by an awareness of wrongdoing, hurt ego, or guilt. In the Bible, the feeling of shame is normally caused by public exposure of one’s guilt (Genesis 2:25; 3:10). Shame may also be caused by a hurt reputation or embarrassment, whether or not this feeling is due to sin (Psalm 25:2-3; Proverbs 19:26; Romans 1:16).