To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No-one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse. (Psalm 25: 1-3 NIV)
When I read this, yesterday morning, I was unsure what sense to make of it.
I have learnt a lot about shame, in fact I have often seen myself as shame personified. Whereas guilt arises when we have done something wrong, shame arises when we believe that the guilt makes us, as a person, inherently bad. Shame tells us that we are no longer worthy of connection.
Brene Brown says this, “Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.” (Gifts of Imperfection, p39)
She then goes on to explain that the antidote to shame is empathy. This is where I often get in a muddle – in order to receive the empathy required in order to deminish the shame, I need to courageously tell the story of my shame to someone who will be empathetic towards me. I’m definitely getting better at this, but it still terrifies me. It particularly scary as two of my biggest triggers that push me towards mental health crisis are shame and fear of abandonment/rejection.
So, how does this connect to the Bible verses? I was interested in this, ‘No-one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame’. My curious mind is asking all sorts of questions. Mostly I’m struggling with the difference between cognitively knowing and understanding, and what my feelings are telling me. Affectively, I am so far unable to accept at any great depth that I’m worthy of love and connection (although I am making some strides towards acceptance of that in my feelings). Therefore shame still has a strong hold over me. But, I am interested to discover that I’m not being put to shame, but rather I’m experiencing something that can be fought and challenged. I’m yet to understand this, but I’m sticking with curiosity and not shame for not yet knowing what I one day might discover!