Fasting from Shame (Day 1)
Today we move from fasting from resentment to fasting from shame. Research Professor Dr. Bren Brown* clarifies the difference between guilt and shame.
I believe that there is a profound difference between shame and guilt. I believe that guilt is adaptive and helpful – it’s holding something we’ve done or failed to do up against our values and feeling psychological discomfort. I define shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.”
After referencing Theodore Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech, Dr. Brown says:
Life is about daring greatly, about being in the arena. When you walk up to that arena and you put your hand on the door, and you think, ‘I’m going in and I’m going to try this,’ shame is the gremlin who says, ‘Uh, uh. You’re not good enough. You never finished that MBA. Your wife left you. I know your dad really wasn’t in Luxembourg, he was in Sing Sing. I know those things that happened to you growing up. I know you don’t think that you’re pretty, smart, talented or powerful enough. I know your dad never paid attention, even when you made CFO.’ Shame is that thing.
The thing to understand about shame is, it’s not guilt. Shame is a focus on self, guilt is a focus on behavior. Shame is ‘I am bad.’ Guilt is ‘I did something bad.’ How many of you, if you did something that was hurtful to me, would be willing to say, ‘I’m sorry. I made a mistake?’ How many of you would be willing to say that? Guilt: ‘I’m sorry. I made a mistake’. Shame: ‘I’m sorry. I am a mistake.’
When have you felt that way? In what circumstances or area of your life do you experience shame, that sense that you are not good enough, that you are not enough? How do you reconcile such shame with the reality that you have been created by God, in God’s own image?
For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.
Let us pray,
Lord God, you knit me together in my mother’s womb, I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Drive the demon of shame out of my life, that the person you created me to be can thrive. Not for my own selfish goals, but to proclaim your amazing grace and fully respond to your call to mercy. I pray in the name of the one who looked into the prostitute’s eyes and said, “your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Amen.
*This quote, and those following, are taken from Dr. Brown’s Ted Talks in Houston and her website: www.brenebrown.com.
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Tags: devotions, fasting, Lent, shame