I love to read, and lately, I have been taking that to the extreme. I have piles of books on the table, stacks of books by the bed, a couple of books I’m reading to the kids. And it doesn’t stop there.
I have a bin of books I just picked up from the library, and I spent 20 minutes last night requesting more books.
“Why?” my husband teased. “You don’t have enough to read?”
He knows my obsession with good literature, and piles of books simply surrounding me makes me happy.
Mostly I read fiction, but this year, my goal was to read one non-fiction book per month whether it be a business book for my small business or a faith book for my soul or something else.
This month, I picked up Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. I don’t know Brene Brown’s faith story. What I do know is that she is a psychologist that has written some best-selling books. That, in and of itself, turned me off to her books. Then, one day I decided that I needed to read what she said before I judged her.
I was curious to see what she had to say about shame since she is well-known for her study in shame.
What is Shame?
Since we were made in God’s image, we were created to glorify God, connect, love and belong. Shame is the fear of losing connection. Shame is the belief that we are unworthy of someone’s time, energy and love.
In her book, Brene Brown talks about shame as being present in twelve categories:
Appearance and body image
Money and work
Mental and Physical health
Being stereotyped or labeled
We all experience shame. We all feel that we need to be better or we need to be more or we need to be bigger. If we are living and breathing, we meet shame face to face in one of these areas.
Just today, I was volunteering in my 1st grader’s school classroom. They were dancing with a video on the computer and one little girl stated, “Adults can’t do this as long as kids can.”
In that one millisecond of a moment, shame coursed through my body, and I stated, “Oh yeah!? I’m going to last longer than all of you.”
And I did. I was quite proud of myself. Until I realized that I was competing against 6 year olds. Even at 38 years old, with a group of 1st graders, shame showed up.
In her book, Brene Brown differentiates between guilt and shame. She defines guilt as doing something bad and shame as being bad. From a psychological point of view, I understand the differences. From a Bible-believing worldview, I believe that the reason we do bad or sinful things is because we are sinful.
What is the Shame Solution?
Daring Greatly suggests that the solution is “shame resilience.” Ms. Brown explains it this way,
“the ability to practice authenticity when we experience shame, to move through the experience without sacrificing our values and to come out on the other side of the shame experience with more courage, compassion, and connection that we had going into it.”
We do not want to sacrifice our values. We do want to be authentic, and we do want to grow in compassion and connection. While that statement has value, I believe that she misses the ultimate point.
The point is that there is a bigger reason for our shame than the current circumstance.
Shame is a byproduct of our sin. We were created worship God, to belong to Him and to love Him.
No amount of shame resilience will repair that connection. That flawed connection can only be mended with a humbled heart. Without that humbled heart, we will not come out on the other side with courage, compassion, and connection.
Peter speaks about suffering and shame in 1 Peter. He encourages his readers to humble themselves under the persecution, to not be ashamed of their suffering. Ride the wave of what the world would label as shame. In doing so, our connection with God grows stronger, and our courage and compassion will flourish.
It’s hard to write anymore without sounding idealistic. The truth is, shame stinks. God is not ashamed of us, but, people will shame us. We will sin and have reason to feel ashamed. No matter what we do, how we feel or what happens to us, our God who loves us and called us to Himself is bigger than any shaming.
1 Peter 5:6, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”
I hope to remember that next time a 1st grader challenges me to a dance off!
Gianna Kordatzky has been a part of the First Free family since 1997. She graduated from Northwestern College (now University of Northwestern–St. Paul) in 1999 with a B.A. in youth ministry which prepared her and her husband, Chris, to raise four amazing kids. She is one of the founders of Family Fun Twin Cities and the Moms in Prayer leader for Bel Air Elementary in New Brighton. Gianna is passionate about serving families whether she is volunteering with New Life Family Services in St. Paul or overseas at the ELIC conference.