In chapter 2 ("Christmas Coal - shame") of L.L. Barkat's new book, Stone Crossings: Finding Grace in Hard and Hidden Places, we read of shame heaped on a nine year old girl by her stepfather in front of his sons and her mother. Then we see how God helped L.L. to cope with that and overcome it.
As is the whole book it is written with no ordinary prose. One gets taken in, but not too much into any sordid detail. Two chapters following continue this part of L.L.'s life during those years. We get a glimpse into L.L.'s story which can help each one of us with our own shame. How in Jesus we can address this and move on in spite of a shameful past. And how she unfolds the Scriptural analogy of the worm is one to remember. It helps me in addressing shame that is thrown at me sometimes even now.
I tried to avoid giving a summary of this chapter which gives too much away because I'd like to encourage you to read it for yourself.
Shame has been a big part of my own life. One memory that stands out is how there was a group at my very first church who used to make fun of Dad. Dad being the oldest son had worked with his own father on the farm and while intelligent, did not have the social skills one gets from living in society. By extension our whole family was shamed. I remember vaguely now getting thrown in the bushes probably by a couple older boys. I was hurt and angry, but also ashamed myself, and still feel a little angst in telling this.
Shame in my life extends beyond that as well, experienced through the meanness of others, but also through my own ill reactions and actions. As well as my not fulfilling the dream of my life in being ordained and serving as a pastor. Though at this late date in my life I could easily think of myself as a teacher or even an editor, though not so sure on that last one!
L.L.'s chapter helps me, both by her own sharing of her life as well as the powerful analogy fulfilled in and by Jesus for us. Our shame is covered by Jesus through his death for us, Psalm 22 a key passage from which L.L. draws. Two key quotes to leave us with from this chapter: "I'm glad God delights to make things right, to cover our shame so we can stop trying to cover it ourselves." (p 20) "And the shame of my past, though real, cannot keep me earthbound." (p 22)
How has shame been a factor in your own life and what help in Jesus have you found for that? Or any other thought you'd like to add to this either from your reading of the book or of this post.
1. Stepping Stones - conversion
Next week: chapter 3: "Tossed Treasure: messiness"