As we approach the Holiday, or as some feel, Shame, season of the year I wanted to share a few things to help us navigate these choppy waters of family, friends, and holiday events. Many of us will spend much “quality time” with family members that can dredge up all manner of evil like CSI diving in the East River. Even approaching the house, memories invade and emotions stiffen. These negative emotions are often due to some trauma, experience, or relationship that carries such negativity that we can hardly breathe. Shame is:
- negative emotion: a negative emotion that combines feelings of dishonor, unworthiness, and embarrassment
- capacity to feel unworthy: the capacity or tendency to feel shame
- state of disgrace: a state of disgrace or dishonor
Why do we feel these emotions around a time of year where thankfulness and joy are to abound?
1. Your track record of behavior is not how you were raised. If you were honest, you would admit that the current behavior, lifestyle, housing arrangement, etc is not approved by the parental unit. You fear the subject being brought up though our false-pride and bravado would kick in and you never openly say those words! You dread the judgmental looks and comments from family. As early as Genesis 3 we see this pattern happening. Adam and Eve had made a poor choice of lifestyle and now were awakened to shame, guilt, and fear. This sin is what causes us to feel that way too.
2. Your family has a history of being holier than anyone else. Let’s face it, sometimes our family is perfect and we cannot live up to that kind of standard. Dad is the model citizen and mom wins all the awards in the community. Your family has been like a glass house to the public and held in high esteem as the family everyone wishes they had. Maybe you had friends openly state they wish they had your parents. All the while you rolled your eyes and prayed to God that this would somehow end. This is the same kind of feeling you get about halfway through any holiday meal! Your prayer life triples right there at the table. It is hard to live up to those family standards. In fact, you haven’t and now the shame is poured out on you, possibly without you even deserving it! Maybe your sibling was the perfect child. Imagine living in the home with Jesus and having to hear, “Why can’t you be perfect like your brother Jesus?” You might have heard those kinds of things. Having everyone drop in together for a meal, a day, or more can be overwhelming.
3. The Family Secrets. You know what I am talking about. Those events from the past that no one is supposed to discuss. The time that Dad got drunk and…. That one day where your sister skipped school and then cried for days after. That Summer where you felt all free and wanted things to be special before leaving for college. The time when you heard the screams from the basement. All of these secrets have never been exposed to public discussion. All of these events are locked up in your heart and spending time with certain family members creeps you out. Maybe, you don’t want Uncle Joey hanging too close to your kids. Yes, these things can bring a sense of shame; a wish that you had a different family.
How do we deal with shame?
Be honest before God. Adam and Eve came clean and God dealt with them mercifully. We must be honest before God about those actions we can control. Faith in Jesus may not erase your memories but there is no condemnation in Him either.
Be honest with yourself. There are those things that are out of your control. Be who God created you to be. Live how He desires for you to live. My parents don’t “approve” of all the things I do, but as an adult they are not in control of me. If I am good with God then I am good to go.
Forgive. For more read THIS.
The holidays do not have to be something you dread. God provides a multitude of coping skills through the presence of the Holy Spirit. Here are a few that you can request starting right now:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.