Thursday, August 9, 2007

An Uninvited Guest: Shame

As I was going through my blog archives, I came across an article that I'd written a few years back on 8/9/07 that I never published. I was rather surprised by my blunt vulnerability and thought that it could be useful for further dialogue.


I wrote a response to Brian Heasley’s blog that turned into something far more than just a short reply. In this blog posting, Brian bears his heart concerning the feelings of shame that he encounters in life. Unfortunately shame is an issue that I am well acquainted with—which, explains why I was intrigued by the Heasley's stories and brute honesty.

Even today shame seems to raise its tormenting head to whisper lies into my soul. Do I listen?—well, I try not to. Often it is simply a “feeling” that swarms me at moments of vulnerability and personal letdowns. For many years it was a constant companion, reminding me of my every shortcomings and failures. Literally it drove me to the edge. Interestingly five years ago when sharing with a prophetic gentleman concerning the suicides of my biological father shortly after my birth and the suicide of his father several years previous—this man-of-God said, “It was shame the drove him to end his life.” Although one could argue that we don’t know with absolute certainty, I certainly couldn’t refute this statement and it did bear witness with my spirit. I believe the Lord desired to uncover a generational curse that has sought to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10) the fullness of God’s calling upon my life.

Shame has plagued me for most of my life including my Christian walk.

Lately I’ve been astounded by the shame that engulfs me after delivering God’s Word through teaching and preaching. Honestly I thought I wouldn’t have to deal with this issue after the Lord graciously enabled me to walk in victory over past sins such as lust. Now I am blitzed by shame when I feel that I didn’t quite do as good as I intended when preaching or teaching at my home group. The full brunt of shame and humiliation vex my spirit in the aftermath of such times—it is quite disparaging. The very thing that I love and burn to do—preach the Word of God with authority—becomes the very thing that the enemy seeks to nullify through a pervasive onslaught of shame. This I believe has roots in several childhood experiences that gave entrance to a wrong self-perception that borderlines sin because ultimately it does contradict God’s Word and His intentions for my life. In essence I am permitting the spirit of darkness to trump what God’s Word declares about me.

Two early childhood experiences come to mind when reflecting on this diabolical root in my life.

The first experience was simply the placement into special education classes for the hearing impaired in elementary school. I came to despise this as I grew older because it made me feel as if I were different, inferior to the other kids. This was especially true since we had to wear phonic ears that consisted of a box strapped to our chest. Superman had his big ‘ole "S" plastered on his chest—meanwhile, I was sporting a strapping box on my chest. This device was intended to amplify the voice of the teacher speaking into the microphone—yet, from my vantage point the bull's eye on my chest communicated to others that I was different. This translated to a “feeling” of being dumb, which continues to plague me to this day even though I’ve attained the following: a BS in History and Political Science from Bridgewater College; a Bachelor of Practical Ministry from the Wagner Leadership Institute; a two year degree from Christ For the Nations Institute; and last year I earned a M.A. in Organizational Leadership from Regent University. Somehow in the process of all of this schooling, I can still feel the lingering shame of feeling dumb.

Then in fifth grade I can recall having to stand in front of the class to share my science fair project, which I was greatly ashamed of. It fell short of the electronic devices and gadgets that others had put together. My project was a drawing I had done of an astronaut explaining the different parts of their gear. I threw it in the trash before my scheduled presentation, but the teacher made me take it out of the trashcan in front of the class. Befuddled, I stood without anything to say. Finally the teacher asked me a question to try to get me to speak—my response triggered laughter from the class. Especially humiliating in that moment was the scene of two girls that I had a crush on, simultaneously laughing in the back of the room. My desire was simply to crawl away never to be seen again.

So these experiences formed the bedrock of a lifelong feeling of inferiority even when my schoolwork and experiences proved otherwise.

I wonder how many people around us are in a place where they must confront the pangs of shame. Obviously I am not referring only to those in the world, but also to those who are of the Redeemed.

I don’t have any easy answers. Yet, I press on towards Christ so that I may walk more fully in the reality of who I am in Christ. Two steps forward…one step back, etc. Henceforth, I refuse to allow myself to waddle in a place of shame that robs me of my confidence in the Lord. I have some more thoughts on this whole issue, but I’ll save them for another day. Initially this whole post started as a response to what Brian Heasley wrote on his blog, but I felt compelled to turn it into a posting for the blog.

What are your thoughts?

For the Cause,

Brian Francis Hume

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