I did not grow up in a shame culture. I grew up in a guilt culture. For purposes of clarity – guilt is what you feel when you do something wrong, say, lie or cheat. It is objective and you know you did it. Shame is when you feel like you are wrong, there is just something wrong with you. It is not that shame was not around when I was growing up, but it was more isolated and you just didn’t hear about shame unless someone did something really awful and it was usually that they had brought “shame on the family.”
Times, they are a changin’. In the space of the last ten years “shame” is something that has become part of the national conversation. There are two reasons for this. The first is because of the amount of broken homes we see around us. Trauma produces shame. Children that never did anything wrong, have this sense that, “I am wrong,” or, “I am not enough,” and they don’t even know why. The second reason is iPhones and technology. When I was growing up I remember my senior year doing something that was utterly shameful. In fact, I feel shame for it to this day. I was with a few of my teammates and they gave me a hard time about it and it left a mark on my heart. However, no one had cell phones, no one posted what I did on Facebook or tweeted a video of my shameful deed, so that the only reason that you now know about it or that anyone other than a few guys knows about it, is because I told you.
This is not the world we live in today. As Andy Crouch says in his article, The Return of Shame, “An American 13-year-old today has never known a day without the internet, mobile technology, and social media. He or she started kindergarten the year the iPhone was released and Facebook opened its site to the public.” Think about that! In my day I was at school and then I went home and left the pressure of the youth culture behind. Now with smartphones, tablets, and the internet, kids take their social environments into their bedrooms! What this means practically speaking it that if I had done that shameful thing I did nowadays—everybody would know my shame! It would be broadcast, commented on by total strangers, and by the next day when I walked into school I would walk in shame and disgrace.
Shame is so bad it will destroy your soul as it isolates you and condemns you with feelings of self-loathing and worthlessness. Shame is our first response to sin according to the creation story in Genesis 1-3. Shame is everywhere but here is the good news—Jesus took our shame! That is sort of abstract, but let me say this, that is our only hope of dealing with our shame in a healthy way. This Sunday we will talk about shame, and how we pray our shame back to God (who already knows it anyway) and ultimately how the cross of Jesus is the place we find healing for our wounded hearts. Hope to see you Sunday.