Friday, January 30, 2015

Barriers to Connection - Shame

One of our biggest barriers to the intimate connection is shame. Shame was not originally part of the human DNA.

And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:25) 

After Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden fruit, the first thing they did was cover themselves. 

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. (Genesis 3:7) 

They immediately had a deep sense of shame.

Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging. (Brené Brown, Daring Greatly

Shame brings a fear of disconnection. That intimate connection that I long for is not available. 

We all experience shame! 

No one wants to talk about shame. But if we don’t talk about it, shame will continue to have power over us. 

When God called out to Adam and asked where he was, Adam answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

Adam was already disconnecting himself from God because of his shame. He was afraid that God would condemn, reject, and punish him. God pursued connection with Adam and Eve because of His love for them, not because of what they had done or failed to do.

Shame and fear are not from God! They are tools of the enemy to keep us separated from God and destroy that intimate connection. Ultimately, we are unable to glorify God because of our shame and fear - the goal of Satan. 

My own personal sense of shame will color every relationship and communication with have with others. I will interpret how people respond and what they say through that lens. 

Blame ....

The most common reaction to shame is blame!

Going back to Adam, Eve, and God in the garden shows the beginning of the pattern:

When God asked Adam if he had eaten from the fruit, Adam replied, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” 

Adam blames Eve for giving him the fruit and blames God for giving him Eve. Blame is not from God and does not build healthy relationships. It really has no place in the Christian life, in the home, at school, or in the workplace.

When I blame someone else, I do not take responsibility for any wrong doing on my part. I
am saying, “it’s not my fault, it’s your fault.”

What does that look like? It’s easy to see it in our kids when confronted with something that happened. "I didn't do it. Not me!" When I ask my child about a bad grade, the child blames the teacher. "It's my teacher's fault that I didn't do well on the test."

In marriage, I might ask my husband about forgetting to take out the trash. Instead of saying that he forgot, he could blame me by saying, “If you didn’t make so much trash, I wouldn’t have to take it out.” or “You should try taking out the trash sometime.” That response becomes “It’s not my fault; it’s yours.” 

Often, I heap blame on myself, leading to more shame. 

And the cycle goes on.