Shame; Church

It’s ironic, but the strongest resistance to the process of healing from shame is shame itself. We’re ashamed to admit that we need healing, that we have been damaged in ways that cause us shame, but to be healed we must acknowledge all of our wounds. The journey from shame to freedom, and a full life in Christ, must be a blatantly honest, nothing hidden voyage…

When you’re suffering from shame the last thing you want to do is make yourself vulnerable. Your vulnerability is one of the reasons you’re suffering from shame in the first place, so why would you want to open yourself up for more?

~ from Unashamed by Christine Caine

 

Yes, indeed the Church should be the very place for this to happen. Church should be the safest place, where everyone is vulnerable, in their different ways. Sadly, so often it’s not. Often church is somewhere we either hide our true selves (or deny they exist) or we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and lost, yet still people don’t help, don’t reach out in love, instead extending only judgement. Churches are filled with the ubiquitous Christian smile (peace be with you!.. so long as I don’t have to talk to you in any other context) glossing over doubts or failings. After all,  we can’t be a ‘good’ Christian if we show anything other than our middle-class Sunday Best. I imagine this applies to English congregations in particular. How sad. If only we would let Jesus in.

The King will answer and say to them, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, to the extent that you did it [showed kindness] for one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it for Me.

Matthew 25:40 (AMP)

Unashamed: Christine Caine

Shame… prompts us to toss away the good gifts we are given…

Hiding my feelings had already become a way of life for me [as a child]. Shame does that. It teaches us to hide ourselves… Shame… pushes you down and prevents you from becoming all you could be…

When you are abused, at first you are ashamed of what is happening to you. Over time, though, you begin to think it is because of you that it is happening…

…I thought, there must be something very wrong with me. I must be at fault. I must be a bad person. I am not worth protecting. God must not love me. I guess I’m not worth His attention. Shame does that: it whispers lies to your soul…

I had no concept of the difference between the shame of what was being done to me and the shame of my own actions… I worked hard to be sure that all those frightening feelings were locked away and invisible… 

I was a child damaged by shame, shackled to it, and I dragged it with me from childhood into adolescence and then into adulthood. Most likely, you have done the same…

~ from Unashamed by Christine Caine

This is a rather large set of quotes to put in a single blog post, but I do hope Christine Caine will forgive me(!). I bought this audiobook last week. I sensed that I needed to read it. In just one chapter I have recognised so much of the broken parts of myself that I am in awe. Christine does not share the exact same past as me. Our stories are different, yet everything that I’ve quoted above was so descriptive of my situation that I felt I could have written it. Much of it consists of things I never knew how to put into words. Even now, with all the hard work I’ve done as part of my recovery, I also realise that some of these things – well, I thought it was just me who thought like that. Shame does that: makes you think you’re the only one because you’re somehow responsible, even when you know that, logically, you’re not. Which shows I still have a way to go, because I thought I had changed these negative beliefs.

This is what I think God is trying to tell me (and who knows – maybe He’s needing you to know it, too): humility is good. Humility looks like Jesus. Humility is not the same as feeling worthless or useless. That’s not humility; that’s shame. Shame has no place on the shoulders of one who belongs to the King of Kings.

God be praised for His perfect timing.  I can’t wait to hear more!

The Ultimate Upcycler

‘When you’re first abused, you’re filled with shame about what is happening to you. When it happens over a long period of time, you then begin to think it’s happening because of who you are…

When you’re abused, you shut down and think you’re used goods. You think God could never really do anything with your life. You can hear a thousand sermons on destiny and purpose and God having a plan for your life – plans for good and not for evil – but if you come at that with a shame-based nature, then deep down you can never believe God could use you. It has certainly been the fight of my life to get to the place of trusting God to redeem the broken pieces of my past for his glory.’

~ Christine Caine

This thing about it being ‘who you are’ is what gets missed. It’s what other people least seem to understand. Christine has put into words (and very succinctly) that which I have struggled with for much of my life. I’m not sure if I don’t still believe it, at least partially; I’ve come a long way on this journey! Do you know what the biggest miracle has been, as I see it? My dear husband. How did he see past the layers of shame and self-loathing to not only who I was, but also to who I could be? Every day he sees the best in me. How is this possible? God surely knew what He was doing when He gave us to one another. I am so very thankful.

On a slightly different note, I am very much into recycling, renewables, etc., having studied the Environment and climate change as part of my degree (currently on hold). I love the idea of upcycling. Upcycling is repurposing a previously used item so that it can be used again instead of undergoing recycling (which does add to greenhouse gases) or being thrown away. Upcycling is creative and fun. It’s thrifty and it benefits the environment. Upcycling is the ability to see potential in junk and turn it into something new and useful. Recently I have been turning cardboard boxes into storage boxes by carefully covering them with colourful duct tape (this makes them both more attractive and more durable). I now use these in the kitchen and in my wardrobe. Very useful.

What’s the connection between the quote from Christine Caine and the rest of it? It’s this: I do struggle still with the idea of being useless, unwanted and ‘used goods’. But maybe God’s good at upcycling. Maybe, in fact, He is the original Master Upcycler. I think that might just be so. Upcycling can take some time and effort. For a while the thing still looks a lot like junk, but eventually, eventually… there is the practical equivalent of a metamorphosis. A redemption, if you will.

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The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me
    because God anointed me.
He sent me to… care for the needs of all who mourn… 
    [to] give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes,
Messages of joy instead of news of doom,
    a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.

extract from Isaiah 61:1-3 (The Message)

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Post script: please pray for our dear Prince. He’s still in a lot of pain and the doctors don’t know what’s wrong. He has a procedure under general anaesthetic booked for next week. Please pray this goes smoothly and we get some answers. Please also pray that Prince understands what is happening and is able to control his anxiety. It’s hard enough having autism without all this in addition.