Ain’t No Shame In My Game

“Fear not: you will no longer live in shame. The shame of your youth and the sorrows of widowhood will be remembered no more” (Isaiah 54: 4 NLT).

“I gave my back to those who beat me and my cheeks to those who pull out my beard. I do not hide from shame, for they mock me and spit in my face” (Isaiah 50:6 NLT).

I can recall two incidents from my past that caused me great shame. The first occurred when I was about ten or eleven years old. While playing with my friends in the neighborhood, my father came home drunki, early from work. He urinated in front of all of us. My friends howled in laughter and teased me incessantly. I tried to play it off and laugh with them; however; I felt shame for my father and did not know how to process the shame, so I internalized it.

The other incident occurred at my eighth-grade graduation. My family could not afford a suit for me, so I wore an old shirt and tie. No one from my family showed up. After the graduation, while the other children enjoyed their families, I walked alone to 79th street. I got drunk. I felt a mixture of anger, shame, self-pity, and intense loneliness.

These and other experiences contributed to a shame-based personality. I did not feel good enough, strong enough or smart enough. I felt inadequate and unworthy even though I possessed a keen intellect, strong body and a sharp wit.

I sabotaged any success in my life because of an inherent sense of unworthiness. I accepted failure as something I deserved. I developed a loser’s mentality, and my life fulfilled the message that resided in my spirit. The voice always said, “You will not make it. Something will happen to mess up the happiness you are feeling.” I looked for the other shoe to drop.

A sense of shame is one of the most toxic emotions we can experience. Modern medical understanding of addictions and compulsivity tells us that our drivenness is often an effort to escape from or compensate for a profound sense of shame and inadequacy. What is the shame that can envelop us and paralyze us? We may feel shame about our estrangement from God. We may harbor shame feelings about our inability to pull in the reins on addictive or compulsive behaviors. We may feel ashamed for the damage we have inflicted on others through our lifestyles. We may carry shame about the dysfunction of our childhood families.

King David knew about shame. He wrote, “My dishonor is continually before me, and the shame of my face has covered me, because of the voice of him who reproaches and reviles, because of the enemy and the avenger (Psalm 44:15-16 NKJV).”

We define shame as a deep-seated feeling that something is wrong with me. We feel inadequate and unworthy and develop a shame-based personality that keeps us from attaining the potential God intended for

our lives.

According to Brené Brown, a researcher at the University of Houston, shame is an “intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.” It's an emotion that affects all of us and profoundly shapes the way we interact in our everyday lives.

Children from dysfunctional families can absorb shame directly or indirectly.

Indirect shame can come from many sources:

1. Parents’ attitude can teach a child shame.

2. Children can feel shame for their parents’ problems.