Shame

A week ago, I posted my first piece on this blog and admitted to sleeping with someone’s boyfriend. When I first posted it on here I did not share it on any social media platforms, so the only people seeing it as far as I was concerned were strangers on WordPress and I was okay with that. But for some reason something in my gut told me I needed to share it with others, including people that knew me personally, regardless of how I would be viewed for it.

So, the next morning I woke up and I already had the tweet in my drafts. I posted it, got ready for work, and didn’t look at my phone for the next three hours. When I went back to my phone, I had DMs and texts from multiple people opening up to me and telling me similar stories. There were all of these people feeling the exact same thing I was feeling, some facing that feeling alone.

This is where shame comes into things. A week prior to me writing that post, one of my friends sent me a YouTube video of one of the speakers from Passion 2018. The speaker’s name was Christine Cane and it said below the video that the topic was shame. It focused a lot on the beginning of shame culture, which she pinpoints to Genesis 2 and 3 during The Fall. (Linked at the bottom.)

The last verse in Genesis 2 says, “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25). The very last thing before The Fall is humans existing and feeling no shame. Out of all of the emotions that could have been mentioned here, it was the feeling of being unashamed that was chosen. It did not mention feeling happy, unafraid, content, or any other emotion. Just unashamed. Shame is not a feeling we were meant to know.

So, then begins Genesis 3 and The Fall. The beginning of Genesis 3 states:

3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so, they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

The first thing The Enemy says in The Bible is questioning what God said and planting that seed of doubt in the woman. “Did God really say…?” Are you sure? Do you really know and trust what God has said to you? Once The Enemy succeeds at creating that doubt, you can basically count on people to do the rest of the damage themselves.

The woman then eats the apple and gives some to her husband. Immediately after, they realize they are naked, create clothing for themselves, and hide. This is the first time man encounters shame, and it has become a part of who we are ever since. Then, when faced with shame their first instinct was to go into hiding, and that is still the case today as well. We don’t know who we are, and we don’t trust who God tells us we are, so we believe who other people tell us we are. And we are so scared of who other people will tell us we are that we hide. We pick and choose what parts of ourselves we show to other people out of fear of who they will tell us we are.

Some of the things God tells us we are:
Completely accepted
Unconditionally loved
Totally forgiven

When we believe that these things are who we really are, instead of whatever the world around us is trying to tell us we are, we are able to be vulnerable and truly connect and accept one another. If I truly believe that I am completely accepted, unconditionally loved, and totally forgiven, then I know that any voice telling me anything other than that, whether it be another person or that voice in the back of my mind, is wrong.

And that feeling of knowing who you are is such a powerful feeling. It allows you to be yourself for the world, even when that’s a mess, with no fear of being persecuted for it. Also, freeing yourself from shame gives you the power to help others find that freedom from shame as well. I have posted a lot of bible verses on Instagram in my life, portraying myself as that perfect Christian girl, and they have never amounted to anything more than replies saying, “omg I love this” or “I needed this.” That post was the first time I have posted something openly admitting to my flaws and mistakes and it led to at least ten genuine conversations, some with people who barely know me, talking about our personal experiences, struggles, and just being open with one another. I didn’t have to prove to these people that I was perfect or good enough for them to reach out to me. Instead, I showed them I was human and was vulnerable, both of which are things I would have been unable to do if I was choosing to live in shame.

e.s.

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