We don’t talk about her much, but she’s always with us, covered under beige makeup and pink blush, on pale lips under rose-colored lipstick, hiding in our forced smiles.
She often escapes into safe, yet dark, claustrophobic closets of isolation, hiding out in tunnels of introversion.
She’s the ghost of millions, across landscapes, wearing sarees, hijabs, bikinis, high heels and pearls. She’s on street corners chewing gum, dressed in mini-skirts, ripped fish net stockings, outspoken tattoos etched into her skin, you can almost see them bleeding. She’s driving carloads of kids to soccer games in mini-vans in suburbia.
Her name is shame – -shame clinging to souls like barnacles on slimy rocks, sticking like tar on stomach walls. Her inhales breathe relentless untruths, that she is not enough, yet she can’t find fresher air.
Her buried past, littered with hurt, abuse, blame, belittlement, seduction, haunts. Like Monica Lewinsky, she made mistakes. Publically disgraced on the Internet at light speeds, she wants to die. Her mother won’t let her shower with the door closed. Others, once called too fat, not pretty enough, cut, throw up after meals, and drink too much. Many, pretty, skinny, objectified, striving for magazine model perfection, shrink into oblivion. Like dirt being thrown over a grave, they forget who they are. Many drag depression, sadness, loneliness, invisibility and self-denigration like bags of dirty laundry through their days. Somewhere things went wrong though — bullied, punished, shamed, ignored, buttocks slapped, religious guilt shoved down throats, shame mixes like poison in blood, pumps through our veins, as if this is destiny.
Yet, in Christ, shame is not our destiny.
“Whoever believes in him will not be put to shame”- Romans 9:3
“Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us”. -Rom 5:5
Imagine Mary Magdalene’s shame as an outcast, before Jesus healed her of ‘seven demons’, rotting, demonized by society. Or consider the prostitute, mute, head hanging low, knees in dirt, circled by a condemning public, rocks in hands, until Jesus untied her tongue and soul and set her free.
“Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; for you will forget the shame of your youth.” -Isaiah 54:4
Jesus the one who came for the shamed: the downtrodden, blind, poor, the sinners, the lepers, with half fingers, and stubbed toes. Jesus, who tells us in so many words, we really need to love ourselves, because we are so loved. Jesus who heals the shame that binds us.
Shame is the stuff of dungeons and tarantulas, spider webs, rats and skeletons, a dreaded landscape that lives in varying degrees in each of us. It requires Christ’s hallowing glory to shine it’s blazing light into shame’s corners, returning us whole, into the divine image of God.
In Christ, denigration, disrespect, and oppression have no license. In the glaring light of Christ love, Christ places a stop sign and a mirror in front of shamers. Loved in Christ, we learn the beauty of loving and protecting ourselves from shame’s destruction. In Christ, like Mary Magdalene, we become resurrected, Christ-filled women and crowned disciples.
Will you consider looking in the mirror today and ask yourself honestly, does shame hide in me, does it drive a portion of my life? Is depression, procrastination, or pain burying any shame? Can you ask yourself, who or what shamed me? When you look in the mirror and see shame in your pupils, can you take it out of hiding, place it next to you, into the light of Christ’s divine love? And in doing so, will you entertain the glorious notion, that shame doesn’t belong to you?
I have come to give life, and give it abundantly! – Jesus