Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What to Make Out of Shame?

This is one of those articles to keep for a time when a pervading shame greets the otherwise unsuspecting demeanour. This is an article to keep for when we have one of those ‘Peter at the Transfiguration’ (Matthew 17:4) moments—when we’ve done something so inappropriate it defies belief.
But there is a translucent beauty out of such a moment; God can create something of healing quality even out of such a sorry mess.
In Western culture we don’t make much of shame. The shame is there alright, laden deep in the psyche. And out of a shameful incident we are at once reconnected. It’s a connection we definitely do not savour. We deplore ourselves for a time.
But at some point we turn our thoughts to recovery. How do we make good of this calamity?
Understanding the Notion and Price of Failure
We all fail and shame is but one of the reeling consequences.
The notion of failure is something foreign to desire. We repel it. We don’t go there, but where we find ourselves there, in failure, our responses make for interesting reading. Do we deny or avoid? Do we resist the learning potential? Are we angry with ourselves? Are we afraid of the shame—‘ashamed’ of it? We get to play with all of those responses, and more.
With the notion of failure, however, comes a whole new world of knowledge, and God never wastes such learning opportunities—if we are to embrace them.
We cannot pretend the shame is not there, and as we wrangle with it, shame, like fear, tends to become something else. We notice other people’s grace. We notice God’s grace. And if we can’t be thankful for our own lack of wisdom, we can be thankful for others’ gracious sagacity in dealing kindly with us.
So what is the price of failure? It varies. But no failure is an endgame in itself.
Though we can feel disposed to the most horrible closure, rarely do failures play out that way. There is usually recourse for recovery. We are to be open to it. And where our hearts are genuine in seeking for a restitution that might fit the situation, we can live on to ‘fight another day’.
The Role of Time and Prayer
Time and prayer help. With the intercession of days, and sometimes weeks, the lay of the land, and the cause for damage, become smoother. Our consciences become increasingly more bearable, especially given the fortitude and authenticity of prayer.
Feeling ashamed is one of the worst of the human emotions. But the grace of God heals. However we’ve failed, situations are recoverable. In our shame we go to God, trusting, ready to be healed. When we let it, the grace of God heals us.
Failure is not the end; let God construct a useful re-beginning.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

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