Saturday, June 23, 2012

Comfort overcomes shame

Shame is caused by the awareness or exposure of guilt, or a hurt reputation or embarrassment, whether or not this feeling is due to sin. 

Feeling shame and shaming others leads to complex webs of sin. God's mercy overcomes sin through His Holy Spirit's incredible conquering work and as His people care for each other.

Shame is caused by being wronged, abused, or mistreated.  Personal rights are violated.  The clearest example could be when a child is verbally, physically or sexually abused by an adult. The shame received by such abuse can be far-reaching.

                   Bringing comfort and mercy to the MRJC
As I am serving with men as a chaplain at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, virtually all the men I meet with for listening, counseling, and prayer are surrounded by screaming shame.

MRJC in Kent
I continue to share with Jerry who hasn't spoken with his family since he began his stay at the MRJC.  He continues to send mail home to his kids but hasn't heard anything from them.  When he calls home, nobody answers.  He carries a load of shame.  

Sal was just sentenced to 18 years for his crimes.  He goes through seasons of shame and prays for his victims.  He is walking through what prison life will be and how He might experience God's mercy.

Chuck shared last week he doesn't want to take away from the time I have with others in his unit but asked me to spend time with him.  We took turns picking out Psalms to read with each other. He needs comfort and mercy for the shame he experiences from his crime.

                                         Shelter from the storm at FSM 

Our high school Faith Student Ministries Sunday morning Gathering is working through the Beatitudes in Matthew.  Here is how it all starts...
   Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
   Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  ~Matthew 5:3-4


FSM shelter at Lake Meridian Pa
We are focusing on our church FSM as a "shelter from the storm" where we love and care for each other in deepening relationships.  In the first step, from verse 3, we are utterly humble and helpless within our own resources to cope with our dysfunctions. 

At every level in our local church bodies, from youngest to our seniors, we are learning to care for one another in safe ways. We know the church is not always safe.

In the second step we are addressing this Sunday from verse 4, we mourn our own sin and the sin of those around us.  Jesus instructs us to engage in godly funeral grief over ugly and wicked sin.  In real life contrast, we are brought up to make ourselves "get over it" and "be happy,"  becoming a cover-up of the ravages of sin in real time.   
Jesus says His kingdom people receive His comfort and then comfort and exercise mercy with one another in relationships together. 

We don't just start doing this naturally and we don't do it well, ourselves.  We need God desperately and He promises to empower us through it.  

Comforting each other involves letting God have His way in disciplining us as His children, part of the care and nurture of the healing shelter from the storm we call the local church family.

                   Safe sharing at Celebrate Recovery
I began attended a local Celebrate Recovery group once again recently, not now because I have some family member who is crawling wounded through cycles of addiction, but because I am needing to be nurtured through my own sense of abusive dysfunction within my family of origin and my own experiences on my journey.  At a recent meeting, we were privileged to hear a teaching on shame by a local family and marriage counselor.

                                  Shame humiliates

It is hurtful and hurting when you and I were: 
  • teased at school 
  • humiliated in teams or groups
  • belittled by family members or bosses, or...
  • told you were a "bad boy," or asked "where are your brains?"
  • never good enough 
  • feeling we don't measure up
  • exposed to porn
  • engaged in substance abuse addiction cycles
  • falsely accused and unjustly punished for cheating or stealing
  • abused by a work supervisor marring your reputation and employment future
  • embarrassed when you were improperly corrected in public 
These things are exhausting and runs me through gauntlets of hurtful memories.  

A friend also involved in the same things and I are using the Celebrate Recovery Step series to dig into these things.  We found an inventory worksheet very helpful.  Scripture applied and obeyed are powerful tools God uses to bring about His mercy and comfort.

          Scripture to exercise His mercy and comfort
Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the LORD!  Let us lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven.  ~Lamentations 3:40-41

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.  ~John 16:13

 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.    ~Romans 12:1-2 ESV) 

The counselor at Celebrate Recovery focused on toxic, poisonous cycles of shame. The shamed person feels a need to preserve their image and protect against embarrassing exposure.  Under these pressures, the shamed step in line or feel pressured toward expectations of compliance. One way of massaging these feelings is to develop co-dependent relationships not to really care for others but to regain a sense of value to gain adoration and praise. 

Celebrate Recovery and other faith-based step programs focus on the root causes of sinful, self-seeking, and compulsive behaviors.  Addictive behaviors seek temporary methods to cover up pain and the fears of being exposed. Active participation in the meetings and the various steps are healthy ways to begin receiving help in genuinely safe places.



gary rice said...

We sometimes don't realize what shame is until we take a in depth look at the situation and problem it may have caused.After bringing it to a focus we can recognize that out of our mouth comes " I am ashamed of that" and that kind of shame is an honest shame. It's when someone makes you feel worthless and less than nothing by there words toward you that you take that shame and ask God, forgive me for my sins and wrongfulness and take this shame from me and let me use it to better my self and bring salvation to my soul. " I have love of God in my heart and Jesus took my sins and shame from me".

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. I am believer in Jesus Christ the Lord and son of The most High God and have been struggling to grow in his ways. I just sinned a darkening sin again after posting to a facebook group asking for this 4th step inventory (I found God while attending Alcoholics meetings and did all of the steps) then the Lord pitied me by a response that lead me to a site that lead me here.....
Anyways, that sheet looks like it.. Vary important stuff to deal with converting to Christianity, to renew the mind so the faith grows.

Is there more sheets? anyway to download these? I'm looking for the ones that have all : Resentments, Fears, Harms other than Sexual and Sexual harms lists in this same format.
Thanks for beleiving in our Father, The one true God