• Dr. Leah Fortson

The Nature of Shame

I've been thinking a lot about shame lately. You know that feeling that makes you want to hide; the drive that causes us to bury our experiences and deny our truth? For many of us, our shame is attached to a life experience or a series of experiences that at times cause us to shutter inside, change the subject of a conversation when it comes up, and do anything to prevent those intrusive thoughts that remind us - it happened! Some of us have cut off associations and relationships because they remind us of the moments in life we would like to forget.

Of course, we find the origin of shame in the Garden with our beloved Adam and Eve - they hid... not just their deeds but their entire selves. Shame, compelled them to cover up, to conceal themselves, because shame isn't about what I do, shame is about who I am and how I am - the state of my personhood, the quality of my being. Shame does not say I did something wrong or something bad was done to me. No, Shame says I am wrong, that something is wrong with me, that I am defected, bad even. And just like the mother and father of humanity, when there is a spotlight on our shame, we feel naked, exposed, and vulnerable beyond measure.

I wonder if Adam and Eve overcame shame? Or was shame the shadow that followed them throughout their existence? Regardless of their fate, you and I don't have to remain in shame. Shame doesn't have to be our eternal companion. We can release those experiences that haunt us and the shame that stalks us.

I want to take my time with this subject because if shame isn't conquered it has the power to prevent you from living the abundant life Christ promised. Next week we'll start to unpack exactly how we are to overcome shame!