Breaking the Cycle of SHAME

shame   SHām/

Noun:   A painful emotion caused by a strong sense of guilt, embarrassment, unworthiness, or disgrace.

Last week while working in Brazil, Renaissance Man forwarded this letter to me. It was written by Philip Smith, one of the founders of Hope Unlimited for Children.  He and my husband are partners in ministry … constantly encouraging and learning from each other.
Tonight during the service at the graduate church I saw one of our outstanding graduate girls, out on her own for almost two years now, quietly kneel at her seat during the prayer time.  I wondered what serious issue she was grappling with.
After the service, she approached Pastor and handed him a plastic zip-lock bag containing something wrapped up in newspaper. “Pastor,” she said, “Please take this and burn it. I have been praying for the Lord to relieve me of this vice, and tonight I sensed that He has given me the victory.  Nobody knows about this, but this has been a great source of shame all of my adult life.”
Pastor took the package. He later opened it, expecting to find marijuana or crack cocaine.  Inside were two distressed and worn little pink binkies (little rubber pacifiers infants suck on).
Later Pastor discovered that she had been hiding the binkies during the entire time she was at the girls ranch, sleeping with a blanket over her head and waking up before any of the other girls so she could hide her source of shame.
Her use of the binky was undoubtedly related to the traumatic abuse she experienced growing up where, despite her young age, she never had the chance to be a child.
I was thinking about how sometimes it is difficult to fully understand what our children have been through, and how this trauma can continue to affect them even today, after so many years.


Only after my husband returned home did I learn the identity of the young woman. I know her. Renaissance Man had the privilege of baptizing her a few years ago.  She’s a vibrant and loving young lady.  I pray that today she is truly free of the shame that imprisoned her.
While it’s so very true that the children we serve at Hope usually have pasts wrought with horrible traumas, shame can affect anyone. Sadly, it’s an equal opportunity downer. It finds something in a person’s life that they’re not proud of, something that embarrasses them even in private, something that causes them to tell themself just how stupid they are … how unworthy.
If the Evil One gets his way, shame will spin a web of prison bars around us, and we’ll become so much less than God intended when He created us.  Rather than standing tall, created in the image of God, we’ll hang our heads in shame … and defeat … and suffer forever from a poor self image … and let the Evil One get his way.
I don’t know about you, but there’s a fighter in me, and I’m not willing to lose that battle!  I hope there’s a warrior in you, too.  As David cried out in the 142nd Psalm: Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name.
I’ll be linking to Spiritual Sundays at Blogger Spirit and
Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch.