Overcoming shame with love

August 13th, 2015

Recently several examples of parents shaming their children on social media have gone viral. Parents, bloggers and journalists have weighed in on both sides of the shaming debate. Some parents argue that spanking is no longer tolerated as discipline, so shaming is all they can do — and it works. Others claim that shaming is abusive and has equally devastating consequences as other forms of abuse. Sadly, some teens — feeling humiliated by their parents’ shaming videos — have rebelled more, attempted to harm themselves or even committed suicide.

The ladder out

Social worker, professor, and shame researcher Brené Brown defines shame in her 2012 book, “Daring Greatly”: “Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.” Shame is something we all experience at times whether we feel ashamed of ourselves or are shamed by others. “Empathy,” Brown writes, “is connection; it’s a ladder out of the shame hole.” But empathy can be difficult for people who feel the need to be in control because empathy also requires vulnerability. “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path,” asserts Brown.

Put down the shaming stones

The biblical story of the adulterous woman about to be stoned in front of Jesus (John 8:1-11) is one example of public humiliation as an ancient practice. But just because it has been around forever does not make it right. Jesus did not add to the woman’s shame by making her explain herself. He simply asked those without sin to throw the first stone. Today, the question for us is: Are we willing to put down our shaming stones and risk being vulnerable enough to show ourselves and others love and empathy?

Question of the day: What do you think are the most common things that cause people to feel ashamed?

Focal Scriptures: Genesis 3:1-13; 45:1-15; John 8:1-11

For a complete lesson on this topic visit LinC.

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