Lame feet and a crooked mouth. These were the disfigurements by which she judged herself. She believed that is how everyone else viewed her too, including the Shepherd. In her estimation, there was nothing beautiful about her. What hope was there for her condition?
If you have read Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard, you will recognize our friend, Much-Afraid. If you have not, there is no other book that I recommend as highly when I am privileged to listen to a woman’s story. If I hear certain shame-based remarks and sense there is a Much-Afraid hiding inside, I suggest they pick up a copy. It is a little volume God used to help transform my thinking, perspective, perceptions, and most of all, apply His truth to my heart. The pages are laden with healing balm for those who believe there is something wrong with me: the definition of shame.
Author and researcher Brené Brown mentions three things that are necessary for shame to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, and judgment. I cannot agree more. I didn’t have to research it; I lived it.
When caught in the grip of shame, the last thing one wants to do is become vulnerable. Be exposed? Are you kidding? Shame is like a cloak used to cover up what we want to hide – forgetting or ignoring that God knows all about us anyway. Furthermore, sometimes it’s not God we’re worried about. It’s everyone else we can actually see. So the temptation is to pull the cloak of secrecy just a little bit tighter.
Secrecy at least keeps shame internalized. Doesn’t it?
It doesn’t? Alrighty then. If others actually do notice what we’re trying so hard to hide, we’ll try the silence route. We just won’t talk about it. Ever. Maybe we’ll eventually forget about it. To which I say, fat chance.
To open one’s mouth and name the shame to a real ‘flesh and blood’ person is a no-win proposition. Isn’t it? Shame woven with fear and anxiety makes it difficult to take the step of breaking the silence. But it is not impossible, for with God, all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26b NIV) Even naming the shame…
Though our internal belief system may tell us there is no one who is safe or will understand or will actually hear our wounded heart, there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother to us. (Proverbs 18:24 NIV) First and foremost, Jesus. Sometimes He delights in using a flesh and blood ‘search and rescue’ team (parents, pastors, counselors, teachers, small group…) with his Holy Spirit leading the operation. Sometimes, a one-on-one with a close, trusted friend. There are options. The Shepherd never leaves His sheep trapped and defenseless.
However, there’s that awful third point of judgment. It’s like we were born with a gavel in our hand!
Wait. We were.
When shame was activated in that forbidden-fruit eating day of Adam and Eve, roots took hold.
There are good roots and not so good roots. From the good roots we drink in life. From the not so good roots we drink in death. There’s a biblical term for these not so good roots; they’re called bitter roots.
“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:15 NIV)
Yet, that is precisely what happened, happens, and will happen…until we take the first step and decide we do not want to live this way anymore. Grace is an outstretched hand away.
The Bible has a lot to say about judgment. We know this, but we find ourselves slamming down that gavel all too often. Worse, we can’t even say why!
Like Much-Afraid discovers in Hinds’ Feet, there is hope; there are answers. Join me next month when we’ll dig deeper into bitter root judgments born of shame.
Underneath all the tangled roots, there is beauty on the other side of the secrecy, silence, and judgment.
Point to ponder: Which of the three is your default ‘disfigurement’? Secrecy, silence, or judgment?
Wellspring of Life | www.nancybentz.wordpress.com