O my God, in you I trust; do not let me be put to shame; do not let my enemies exult over me.” vs. 2Psalm 25:1-10
Guilt and shame have haunted human existence from the beginning, a pair of companions on life’s journey that we would love to be free of. They’re universal feelings–everyone has experienced them, and of the two, shame is the most disheartening. We can negotiate with guilt. It comes as a result of something that we’ve said or done, and when that happens, there’s generally a way to get forgiveness. Most religions have a ritual particularly designed to help us make amends and find peace. But shame is different. Guilt affects the conscience, but shame attacks our souls. It hits at the very fiber of our being. Shame is often unrelated to what we’ve said or done, but it always has to do with who we are. If guilt means “I did a bad thing,” shame says “I am bad!” There are any number of reasons for us to feel shame. Coming from the outside they gang up on us and pommel us into the ground. Like worms we want to crawl in dark holes and never come out. Some first get the message in early childhood, and the words “Shame on you,” reverberate in their unconscious for decades. And since we don’t like to talk about our shame there really isn’t a place for it to go. The psalmist feared shame and found consolation in his conviction that God’s steadfast love could erase it. That’s still our best solution!
Thought for the Day: When do I feel shame?