NO SHAME ON ME !
Updated: Mar 25, 2020
I'm going to start by asking you to think back to the last time you sinned significantly. So that would ultimately mean when you committed a mortal sin. If you have never committed a mortal sin or can't remember, hats off to you! You're on your way to sainthood! But in this case think back to the time you messed up bad in the pleasing God department. Got that memory? (Mary hasn't lol)
Good! Okay I wonder if you have a similar thought process to how I used to react, post-sinning. It normally goes like this:
"Oh NO!*Or add any non-blog appropriate profanity here.* I have basically just stabbed the guy who gave his life for me in the back! I'm so STUPID and I'm so WEAK and I'm practically like JUDAS! Now I'm going to have to got to confession and it's going to be SO embarrassing! If I wasn't worthy of Gods love before I'm even less worthy now! I let the devil use me to get one up on God! Shame on me! Now I'm going to have to go all the way to *enter different church to yours* or CHINA so I wont bump into my confessor! I cant go to mass on Sunday to my normal church because Fr *enter priest name* will see me not receive communion and will probably spend hours making a list of possible sins I've committed!!!!
I need to cover this up. How can I teat God like this and expect him to take me back?"
All melodrama and joking aside, do you REALLY think Jesus would speak these things over us? Do you think God would want us thinking these things of ourselves? Do you think God wanted us to be overcome with self-hatred and depression every time we slip up and make a mistake?
The short answer to this is no. It is also the long answer. No! Obviously not! What drama queen Amy is experiencing here is shame. Shame is blatantly the work of the enemy. Even once he had tempted us and urged us to fall and use us against God he does not want to let us go, even after the damage is done! He distorts our minds to be deaf to the Christ within us and tricks us into believing his lies. He clings on tight. Yet he is forced to let go when we go to confession.
Pausing on that thought for a minute, lets take a moment to think about what shame really means to us as Christians.
The first thing to remember about shame is that it makes you feel like there is something inherently wrong with you. It makes you forget who you were made by and that you creator made you ontologically good.
You can see for yourself; the first thing we are told about ourselves in the bible is that God made us good. Let me help you paint this picture. In Genesis 1:3 God says 'Let there be light', and he creates light. He had a good look at it and says 'the light was good'. Then we go to verse 10 and he makes water and land and he 'saw that it was good' as well. He then goes on to make all the vegetation for all the vegetarians and vegans out there, and what is it? It was good. You get the picture. He makes night and day; it's good. He makes all the sea creatures; they're good. Then he makes the animals; Simba, Tigger, Donkey, they're good. Then to put the cherry on the cake of his creation, he made man. Do you know what he said to that?
"Eh it's alright i guess, bit crusty, bit average, I'll take it or leave it."
NO don't be dim he didn't say that!
In Genesis 1:31, after creating his first human he looked upon everything he had made and he saw that 'it was VERY good'. Whether you're a creationist and you believe everything in Genesis is word for word factual, or you're like me and don't believe Genesis is factual but an allegory of how the universe came into existence coinciding with scientific findings, yet key elements of the poem has truth; the way the author of Genesis bangs on about all the things God creates being 'good' makes it undeniable that we as humans, created in the image of God, are intrinsically good.
And yet shame makes us forget all of this.The enemy has a way of covering plain truths with blatant lies. Please never doubt the power the devil can have. It is so important that you pray daily for the wisdom to be able to differentiate between truths and lies because I can tell you, whether you know it or not, the devil uses this trick on you without you knowing.
Hang on a sec, when did shame first enter the world I hear you ask? Well to answer that we need to look at what humanity was like before sin entered the world. In Genesis 2:25 we see fresh humans. The 'man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.'
Now the thing with nakedness, as you probably know, is every bit and bob was out on display. They were completely exposed and completely themselves and they had nothing to hide. They were living out who God made them to be and they weren't apologetic for being the way they were. Today's culture has persecuted and attacked those who don't follow the latest trends and ways of life. But God's first people were comfortable in their own skin and knew their worth because they knew their creator's worth.
However, low and behold, humans forgot their creator's worth and thought they knew better and sin entered the picture. Immediately they realized they were naked and they covered themselves. They felt shame for the first time. Shame tricked them into believing they were less than they were; that they were ugly and should be hidden. They covered themselves with things God did not intend them to be covered with and then they hid from God. They doubted God's better judgement and most importantly they forgot God's mercy and great love for them. Man hid in shame and fear because of his offence to God and in turn he forgot who God was.
If we look at a more recent case in the Bible (if you can count roughly 2000 years ago more recent) we see Peter denying knowing Jesus after Jesus is arrested. He doesn't do this once or twice but THREE TIMES! However it is hard to comprehend the pain and self-loathing it must have caused Peter when he realized what he had done. Realizing that, just after seeing his best mate and King being beaten and humiliated and tortured, he had added to his suffering by stabbing him in the back, just after Judas had, for his own benefit. Whats more he told Jesus specifically the day before he wouldn't dream of offending him like that. To make things worse, he let shame get the better of him and he ran away and hid, rather than supporting Jesus in his last few hours alive in his crucifixion. He hid because he felt that the way he had offended his friend was unforgivable.
Except, Peter didn't let shame end him as it ended Judas. Despite the temptation to isolate himself, in the aftermath of the passion we see Peter in one of his finer moments. He bounces back, overcomes the lies of shame, gathers in community with other believers and acts as a rock to the terrified disciples in the upper room. In turn to this he meets with the resurrected Jesus and ends up leading Jesus' church as the first Pope of the Catholic church. A key lesson in this story is that what mattered most was not the depth of his fall but the height of his determination to get back up again. We as people can find it hard to live sinlessly all the time and this makes us imperfect. Nevertheless it is how we respond to these imperfections and repent from them that can be perfect.
Now guilt and shame are put in the same basket a lot of the time and they shouldn't be. The dramatic difference between guilt and shame is that shame tells us to hide from God because of our mistakes, whether Guilt tells us to run to God because of our mistakes. Guilt tells us to take responsibility for our wrong-doings. It can be the Holy Spirit convicting us of our offence and it has the power to lead us into immediate repentance and begin to rebuild the broken relationship with God; whereas shame often cuts that tie with God deeper. Shame can sometimes lead us to sin further as we think there is no coming back from that anyway. If we were offended in such a great way by a loved one we would find it incredibly hard to forgive them. Similarly when we offend God, we think we don't deserve to be forgiven either. And truth is we don't deserve to be forgiven. Even for doing the most seemingly minute sin we can think of, the just consequence would be that we go to hell for it, because we chose sin over God. What's more, God doesn't even need us! But he loves us so much that he was willing to sacrifice himself in the worst possible way for every failure and mistake you have ever made. Even if you were the only person on the planet to have sinned, he would undertake all the tortures again a hundred billion times. This is not like any human love you will have ever experienced in your life. This is a divine love which is offered to you every day and if you choose to take it it will change your life.
To round things off I'd like to encourage you to, next time you sin ( hopefully you wont but do not panic if you do:]) make a conscious effort not to dwell in shame and look to the cross. Don't beat yourself up about it like the devil wants and try to think what Jesus would speak over you in that moment. Dwelling on sin, as we saw in the first humans and Peter, is counterproductive. Paul pretty much says in Philippians 3:13-14 ' Brothers and sisters I do not consider myself to be perfect. But one thing I do: "forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus."' Something you should do which is vital in striving towards uniting with Christ is simply going to confession. A friend of mine described this perfectly by saying 'God's mercy is not limited to the confessional, but fulfilled.'
You have no reason to worry and want to flee to China to avoid your confessor because there is nothing they haven't heard before and frankly they don't care what you've done. They're just glad you've come to confession. So next time you sin don't think along the lines of a melodramatic Amy. Try to think :
Inner monologue of a rational person
"Oh no. I messed up. I'm going to go to confession so I can mend my relationship with God again and so it's harder for Satan to oppress me. I'm actually really sorry because I dead the loss of heaven and the pains of hell. But most of all because I love my God more than anything else in the world and I need him and I have no doubt he will take me back into his loving arms so I will not be a slave to sin anymore.
There is no shame on me."
Written by Amy O'Sullivan
The Bible used: New Revised Standard Catholic Edition