How to avoid feeling shame …
Ever have someone shame you? It’s an awful feeling, don’t you think? The face-flushing, guilty-headache, hot-cheeked, where’s-the-door-right-Now? feeling that stinks like no other.
And you may not consider yourself someone who dumps shame on others – I certainly didn’t think of myself that way – but if we’ve ever begun a sentence with, “How could you…?” or “What were you thinking?” or “Seriously?” then you are as guilty of “shame dumping” as I am.
Let’s stop doing that, shall we? It’s simply not RESPECTFUL.
Last Sunday, being lazy, I texted a friend of mine, “Hey, what time is the party?”
I knew she was also invited to a mutual friend’s 50th wedding anniversary party.
Time stopped when she texted back,
It was yesterday.”
My whole family had been looking forward to this event.
And I had it on my calendar for Sunday.
That wasn’t helpful.
And the flood of a hundred “OH NO” thoughts, missed moments for my friend, my husband and I (we hit 25 years in a week), our kids, and feelings of regret and remorse filled my eyes and spilled over onto my cheeks.
I had messed up. And not just for myself, but others who were counting on me to “have it all together.”
After telling everyone the bad and oh-so-sad news, I did the next thing – I took her gift, something she LOVES, along with the card, to her house. Thankfully, she was there – along with about 25 other family members.
I got to apologize to a crowd.
She and I cried together, and she dished me some grace. I apologized again. She forgave me.
And on the way home, God shared with me a few things.
You know those nudgings you had last week to find and check the invitation?
The ones you didn’t work too hard to carry out?
That was Me.
“Father, I’m sorry I didn’t listen to You. You are right. I should have paid attention more. You tried to help me, and I kept brushing You off.”
Remember how you asked Me to teach you to love last year?
Love yourself. Forgive yourself.
I knew I had let a number of people down. I knew a few of them were disappointed in me. I knew I had hurt my friend by not being there on one of the most important nights in her life. All these things can feel like disrespect when you are on the receiving end.
Then I had this sense that even though all those things were still true, even though people still might feel pain because of my mistake, there was also something else, another very important Truth – that because of Him and what He did on the Cross, I was forgiven – I could still be sad that I missed it, but I could forgive myself – and that was loving myself well – and that was not only okay, but part of what He means when He talks about coming to bring us abundant life and freedom.
Then I noticed something… (stick with me to the end to grab how all this plays into today’s dare from The Respect Dare)
A few things were missing from this experience.
And their sister…
I felt like a grown up. I respected myself.
Since that day, I have managed to mess up SPECTACULARLY again.
Yep. Three days ago, I REALLY disappointed one of my kids with a HUGE miss that will cost them and us a lot.
We worked through it. I cried over making the mistake, no, that wasn’t why I cried… maybe it was possibly wasting time and money… nope, what was it??
It wasn’t my lack of perfection.
It wasn’t my pride.
What was it? Why did I cry?
I cried because of loss. For the kid’s opportunity that was gone… and for the chance to do well by someone who is one of my favorite people in life. The loss of blessing a loved one.
And he let me know how he felt, and I validated his feelings.
He forgave me.
I was a little concerned that he would be angry – and angry at me, not just at the situation, which was legit – for a long time. He had a right to be upset over what happened and upset at me for messing up.
He wasn’t upset at either.
And we BOTH had life abundant and freedom.
Our relationship is probably stronger, too.
He told me the other night that God may have a different plan than what he thought and that he was fine with it.
Again – the blessing of life abundant and freedom – and love.
So even though both of us are paying about this whole situation, dealing with the consequences, we are moving forward.
And WITH RESPECT.
And it is mutual – by “mutual,” I mean more than not taking it out on the other, but also not taking it out on ourselves. Respecting both – which in effect is obeying God. Which He TOTALLY digs.
I wish more people in families could do this. I wish we did it more, honestly.
- Allow mistakes and failures without blame, which shames others and damages relationships
- Celebrate the learning that comes with mistakes
- Validate another person’s feelings, even when those feelings aren’t awesome and are caused by something we did or didn’t do
- Forgive others and ourselves
- Mutually respecting ourselves AND others
Healthy relationships have little if any space for blame, shame, and condemnation.
I used to think that the verse below meant I “did all the things” so my husband’s and kids’ lives were easy. I used to think (decades ago, thankfully) that it meant I was a perfect wife. You know, “Proverbs 31” and all that.
Since then I’ve dumped those two things. “Not harm” means nixing the shaming, blaming, condemning, contempt, nagging, complaining, disrespect, criticism, judgment, the pursed-lip eye-roll harsh tone of voice, and the “Why did you’s?” and “What were you thinking?” and “You always…” and “You never…” comments.
Part of “bringing good” is sharing the load of burdens, but also taking care of what’s mine to deal with.
It’s Biblical to deal with our own burdens, and it is Biblical to share another’s burden.
Sharing the load:
Galatians 6:2 Help carry each other’s burdens. In this way you will follow Christ’s teachings.
Philippians 2:4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
Romans 15:1-2 We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 2:9 For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.
Taking care of what’s mine:
1 Timothy 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Proverbs 28:13 Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
It’s having the mature, adult behavior to love others & self well.
We are called to grow and mature. He loves us too much to leave us the same.
Ephesians 4:15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,
I love my son’s band’s song, “Safe,” as one thing it deals with the fear of maturing. He’s getting married next week. It is all good. (His band is really good, too. Sorry for the shameless plug – I’m going through a lot of “happy/sad” as a mom this week!)
Speaking of “good,” now that I’m older, and I see the tons of good that God manifests out of pain and hardships, I’ve redefined the word, “good.” I think it’s more in line with His, too.
Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
I guess it could NOT be good if you aren’t answering with faith when you are “called according to his purpose.” If this confuses you at all, learn more about this powerful and simultaneously terrifying thought here.
I know women who don’t protect their kids from an alcoholic and abusive husband. That’s NOT good. I’m not going to start a rant disparaging men, because frankly, women aren’t any better – we all have our issues as a collective within our separate genders.
I should also mention that sometimes, maybe even often, if we are stuck in sin, part of how He wired us includes an allowance of the blame, shame, and condemnation – UNTIL we repent, which means to ask forgiveness, try to make things right with whoever we’ve hurt and God, and then change our behavior.
Psalm 38:4-6 My guilt overwhelms me–it is a burden too heavy to bear. My wounds fester and stink because of my foolish sins. I am bent over and racked with pain. All day long I walk around filled with grief.
When we keep doing the wrong things, we end up with guilt.
Who needs that?
So today, as I close after spending literally the longest time EVER writing a blog post (tough to do with a badly sprained wrist) I am choosing to look for and claim all the good things our Father gives us. I refuse blame, shame, and condemnation – for myself and others.
May we all have more abundant life and freedom as we walk out our faith!
What about you? Have you blamed, shamed, or condemned yourself or others? Have you experienced freedom from that – either sometimes or often? Would love to hear from you!
Love to you,
I am simply stunned by this. I am (at least) a third generation shamer, blamer and condemner. I have been struggling with the effects of shame, blame and condemnation my entire life. Why then would I do this to my own husband and children? Some of it was lack of awareness, I guess. I didn’t have a specific name for my problem, until the last 10 years or so. No one has ever asked me if I am repeating the cycle with my family. The focus has only been on my recovery. Thank you for waking me up today. I will not let this go.
My husband speaks to me in a shameful, blameing, condescending manner on a regular basis. I never realized how much until reading this. Thank you.
How do i hold my own and confront him about the eay he speaks to me? He also gives me the silent treatment and refuses to answer questions on a regular basis.
My marriage is in limbo right now and has been for over 3 years. I am slowly sticking up for myself and have a lot of work to do.
“. . . . My husband speaks to me in a shameful, blaming, condescending manner on a regular basis.” . . . . I’m praying for you . . . . . So far from counseling I have learned that: My mother abused me, very badly; So, I abuse myself AND I attract those types of people (-they are familiar/ -like family) into my life; they see my permission slip and they abuse me too. I abuse myself before anyone else does. If I can solve the inside, the outside will be mostly fixed. The abuse would not be happening *externally* if it is not happening *internally*. I have to BE the change I want to see in my world. . . . . . sigh & huge exhale. . . . .I don’t know if I can do that but that would be honoring to God I am sure. Your husband has the exact same problem. . . . It may be how you found each other.
We are creating our problems. I create my problems, no one else. If I were not abusing myself NO ONE else could either. They see my permission slip, they take it and abuse me. We want to put our problems out there, its “THEM,” its “those type” people, not us. But, again, that can’t happen –externally- if it is not happening –internally- You and only you abusing yourself allows abuse to continue, even with the next person. We have to BE the change we want to see in the world. Your husband reams you out? Stop speaking ream internally. He needs to do the same. He is totally abusing himself too. . . . . Maybe work on it together and fall back in-love with each other. Christ will help you.
>“What about you? Have you blamed, shamed, or condemned yourself or others? Have you experienced freedom from that – either sometimes or often? Would love to hear from you!” . . . . . I’m not what I’m going to be; I’m not what I should be, but thank God, I’m not what I was. . . . I was constantly shaming, blaming, condemning, damning. . . . I am now aware but I am still trying to find “the problem.” We need to work way back up stream dealing with the source, the shaming, the “shoulding”, the blaming, the condemning, the damning that just fuels more evil. . . . . These symptoms are a solution to a problem but they are NOT the problem. Now, obviously they are a really, totally inadequate solution to the real problems. The symptoms are something but they are not that something. Unless we excavate, understand and heal the BIG OTHERS in our lives, we will, always carry areas where we aren’t fully healed. Symptoms are never just secondary failures or distortions of a basically sound System—they are indicators that there is something “rotten” (antagonistic, inconsistent) in the very heart of the System. That is what happens when you don’t heal old hurts. The hurts just wait for new heartache to come along and then show up, just as sharp and horrible as the first day you woke up with them.
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