Stop Shacking Up with Shame

Erik Cooper —  December 1, 2011 — 2 Comments

Shame is an evil bedfellow way too many of us are shacking up with.

Not a day goes by I don’t see it somewhere. In conversation. In manipulation. In me.

We wear it like a millstone necklace. We wield it like a medieval sword. But shame is a cheap counterfeit robbing us of the opportunity for real transformation.

My friend Jim Falk uses a simple sketch to illustrate the difference between shame and conviction:

At the point of challenge, shame spirals downward into a pit of self-loathing, self-deprecation, and inadequacy. It attacks identity instead of action.

I’m worthless.

I’m hopeless.

What’s wrong with me?

Instead of fostering change, shame leaves us in a pit of self-obsessed guilt. We scrape, we agonize, we climb, just trying to get back to the surface, only to find we’re in the exact same place we started (if we ever get there at all). What a waste of time.

Conviction is equally as confrontational, even painful, but conviction creates a different kind of energy. The focus in on bad choices, not self-flagellation.

I’m sorry.

I blew it.

Let’s get on with things.

Conviction drives us towards repentance. Repentance towards the Savior. And the Savior towards our true identity as a passionately desired, relentlessly pursued, and deeply loved child of God. That’s the point where everything changes. Literally. Where our lives begin to transform.

We launch forward instead of spiraling downward.

That’s the trajectory I want for my life. How about you?

2 responses to Stop Shacking Up with Shame

  1. this is so true! Good word thank you

  2. Erik – I like this and it represents a good distinction. I have always seen shame as being a shotgun in the devil’s hand. He shoots and hits his target but it’s all over the place and just confuses and belittles you. However, the Holy Spirit is like a rifle. He hits the precise target, pointing out EXACTLY what needs to change.

    As Christians we should have absolutely ZERO to do with shame, in ourselves and in others.

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