In church we were often told about sin (anything that separates us from God). It’s a popular topic and rightly holds some importance.As I grow older, however, I’m beginning to wonder if shame isn’t our bigger problem. In the back of our minds, most of us are aware of our separation from God or at least from a bigger plan, a greater connection. Shame drives us away from community, our purpose, ourselves. Shame is no respecter of persons and it always seeks to harm through its isolation. Somehow, we don’t talk much about shame though. Instead, you have to learn to find it through stories and, hopefully, see its resolution through grace.
I wish we talked more about shame and grace.
I know so many people these days who are lonely, isolated, and alone. I wonder how many of them would claim life or the plights of being busy when really their shame drives them to hide from the vulnerability of connection?
It’s funny, I can’t remember a single spoken lesson on shame or grace and yet I can tell you that shame, itself, is a lesson I learned with the same passion I tackle most things from an early age. Shame is the voice that speaks to me in the dark hours of the day or the dark nights of the soul.
The cannot, the never, and the how could you.
It can be hard in those hours to remember the lessons of grace which seem so much more powerful and yet elusive at the same time. I think that makes it so much more imperative that we share those stories, those lessons of grace that we encounter. To help us combat the shame and drown its voice with love, compassion, and grace.
In the fast and furiousness of life it’s hard to bring up fleeting images of those unspoken lessons. It’s in those moments when I steady myself in the quiet that the stories come flooding back. The church may forget about grace sometimes but I’m pretty convinced God loves it and pours it out whenever we let him.
I remember a pastor inviting me to communion with both of us still acutely aware of the just scabbed over wounds on my arms.
I remember someone standing beside me while I cried even though we had butted heads in the past.
I remember people who sat in dark spaces, unsure and probably uncomfortable, but willing to show love despite that.
Grace can be uncomfortable to receive thanks to shame but sometimes it can be equally uncomfortable to give in light of potential discomfort, rejection, or memories of past shame.
Community calls us out and dares us to be bold in the face of rejection and shame and shame bids us to cocoon ourselves against alone and withering. Community gives us space to remember and share when we cannot find our way to grab hold of grace on our own. Grace give us room to be the messy works in progress we are. Honestly, I think we could do with much more grace on Sunday mornings.