“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:17
Shame…what a hurtful emotion. One of the cultures in my family love to use shame to try to make one change their ways. When someone doesn’t turn out the way they hoped for, they tell you how they are bringing dishonor to the family. When I was in my early 20’s and dealing with an eating disorder, some people in my family would tell me in their first language that my pants were crying because I was in their eyes, fat. If they hadn’t seen me in awhile and I was heavier, they would say things like, “what happened? you used to be pretty.” They would then blame my mother and she would be mad at me because she didn’t like the shame on her. Vicious cycle.
The pressure from family, friends and society can be very heavy with shame. We feel if we tell them how horrible of a person they are, it would get them to change and they would become a new person. We know it doesn’t work. If it did, there wouldn’t be overweight people, abusers, addicts, criminals. Shaming doesn’t work.
When the horrible terrorist attack occurred in Orlando, Florida at Pulse Nightclub, I was sad and hurt. I knew that certain people would be saying this was the judgment of the Lord on gays. And so it happened. I was reading an article about one of the people who survived the attack. She said, she was so shocked by what happened that she walked into a church for the first time in her life. I am not sure if she was gay or straight as both were present in that nightclub. Now, if anyone at church who condemns the gay lifestyle told her she was a horrible person for going to a nightclub, would she have an idea of who Jesus was? I don’t know what actually happened in her experience, but I sure hope she was hugged and loved on in that church she set foot in.
There is a great series of Christian documentaries by Darren Wilson. There are four in total: Finger of God, Furious Love, Father of Lights and Holy Ghost. All of which have the theme of showing the love of God to everyone. In several of the documentaries, they run into people who are shaming sinners. They have signs that they are going to spend eternity burning in hell, for various things unless they stop living in the world and give their lives to Jesus. Darren asked one of them, how many people have they converted to Christianity and he said none. He said he has been protesting sinners for years. Is it me or do they need a new method? I know we want people to give their hearts to Christ and change their sinful ways. But when shame is involved, it shuts people down and turns them the wrong way. Jesus spoke truth in love, but never in a shameful way to change the person. God can change anyone’s heart. We are to continue to love with boundaries until that day comes.
When I had family telling me to lose weight because I needed to find a man, their words did not make me want to do it. I wanted to bury my face into a gallon of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. My friends spoke life into me and loved me no matter what my size was because they didn’t care. They just encouraged me to take walks with them and make healthier meals. I began to lose the weight, met my husband and lost more. Love has a funny way of doing that.
When we see people sinning and living lives that we know are harmful, it is both difficult and sad. But we need to continue to show love and be the example that Jesus would want us to be. Would you want anyone telling you are doing something wrong by demeaning or belittling you? I know I would want to see the example and receive encouragement. I have made the mistake with my daughter where I said something shameful regarding her doing something incorrectly. She was in tears and said, “Mommy, you never showed me how to do it, I am only 5 years old.” That was a shot through my heart. My lesson learned: discipline through love, not shameful punishment.
Lesson learned: Shame no more, change to love and encourage.
“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for trying to encourage change through shame. I am thankful that you love us, not shame us that we want to change. Break the chains of shame in my life. Let me see people the way you see them as valuable. I believe that you have the power to change any person. Thank you for your love, grace, mercy and forgiveness when we make mistakes. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!