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Shame - Orgins of Shame by Anna Thoreson

Origins of Shame:

(Please read the account of the adulterous woman in John 8:1-11 NIV)

My dear ladies, I wonder if you have wrestled with shame as I have? I wonder if you have yet to grab hold of the tremendous freedom from shame offered to us through the shed blood of Christ Jesus and the power of His Spirit?

In our time together over the next few weeks, we’re going to tackle the tough subject of shame. We will discuss shame’s origins, shame’s reality, shame’s shattering and the shelter we keep to prevent shame’s return.

Several years ago, something terrible happened to me and I wore it as though it happened through me. Someone sinned against me and I wore the shame as though their sin had been my personal choice. Can you relate? It didn’t make sense because I was the injured party. I wasn’t responsible, I was merely impacted (devastated, truly) but I wore the trauma as though I had pulled the trigger.

It was during that season that the Lord began to help me identify and address my long-time history with shame. As this awakening has taken place, I have realized that shame is something most of us feel from time to time, but few of us share it aloud. Shame is too uncomfortable to talk about. And so our shame stays in the dark where it grows more and more dominant, keeping us from speaking up and shedding the light which might allow for our healing. Shame loses its stronghold when it is shared.

It was in the ugly night of my wrestle with shame when I read the story of the woman caught in adultery. My heart went out to this woman, dragged to the temple courts in nothing but shame and a bedsheet. Where was her bedfellow? Was he a priest? A teacher? A childhood crush? A bloke off the street? One cannot commit adultery by themselves, why was this woman left to pay the tab? What’s more, how had the teachers and the Pharisees caught her in the act? Where was this extramarital affair unfolding, that the religious leaders had such intimate access?

My questions continued, was the woman a willing participant? Or was she coerced? Even forced? Who could know? The only other witness was absent from the courtroom. Besides, it wasn’t about the adultery. This woman was merely an instrument used to wield a charge against Jesus. Isn’t this also our initial position between the enemy and the Savior?

My questions about the woman caught in the act made me consider my own propensity for shame. I realized, we wear shame for two reasons: either for the things we’ve done or the things done to us. The thing is, our heart and mind can barely articulate the difference. The shame feels the same whether it is self-perpetuated or pressed upon us.

All too often what happened to us contributes to who we become. Sins against us push us toward our own ugly sin contributions. Perhaps this adulterous woman started out as a sweet and innocent girl and became the victim of a child molester or violent rapist. Maybe her brokenness begat more brokenness, as it often does. It seems possible that she began with the shame of what happened to her and then proceeded to make shameful choices of her own accord.

We keep reading the passage about this ragged woman and we realize the source of our shame doesn’t really matter. Either way, Jesus deals with it. He addresses both the shame of what has happened to us and the shame of what we’ve done. He doesn’t condemn us, He only instructs: “Go and sin no more.” (v. 11)

Jesus came to free us from the pain of sin and shame: both the things that happened to us and the things that we’ve done ourselves. The love and grace of the Savior addresses each of these issues and sets us on a path of wholeness and dignity.

Lord, we have all been gutted by sin, whether it was our own, another’s toward us or some ugly combination of the two. Sin has left it’s scar on our soul. Shame is the badge we wear as a result. Please aid us in identifying the origins of shame in our personal history. Thank You for refusing to condemn us. We are trusting You to address our shame and set us on a path of wholeness and dignity. Amen.


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