Brene Brown says she wants to start a national conversation about shame. Her words must have me feeling a little feisty, because I don’t just want to start a national conversation about shame—I want to start a global war on shame. But that could be complicated, because when we read about fighting shame, our first instinct is not to post it on our Facebook walls; our first instinct is to hide behind our Facebook walls…
Hiding Behind Our Facebook Walls
In 2012, Facebook reported 845 million monthly users. Photos are uploaded at a rate of 250 million per day. And every day, 2.7 billion items are “Liked.” It is awfully tempting to “Like” the items that will make people like us. Meanwhile, our lives feel fragile and our hearts feel a little broken and, deep down, we’re not even sure if we like ourselves.
It turns out our Facebook walls can act like real walls, hiding who we really are from everyone we know.
And behind these walls our only companion is shame.
Shame is the belief that what is inside of us is not good enough—that if people really knew us we would be deemed unlovable, unacceptable, worthy only of rejection, or worse, disinterest. We believe this lie swallowed long ago and it feels real, so we drink it down like bad medicine.
And shame is the search for something outside of us that will finally make us feel worthy. Believing we are unworthy of love, we begin to search for substitute sources of worth outside of us. As children and adolescents, we search for worth in grades and big cliques and varsity letters and boyfriends and girlfriends and admirable bodies. As adults, we work ourselves into the ground, try to purchase our way to personal value, and we cling to relationships and reputations and righteousness.
I watch us all desperately struggling to grasp the object that will finally bring us a sense of worthiness, and my soul weeps at the sight of a people tearing themselves and each other apart in the desperate, hopeless search for a worth outside of themselves.
We’re looking in the wrong place for our value. Our value lies within. It’s always been there and it always will be. It’s just waiting for us to fight through the lie. It’s waiting for us to scrape away the detritus of centuries of shame-filled culture and our own years of unwitting participation in the great lie.
A Writer’s Confession
I have shame.
I know I do because it causes my writer’s block.
I began blogging in January 2012 out of a desire to write about the things that give me hope. But in the last month, my thoughts were repeatedly drawn away from the words on the page and drawn to that damn Facebook Like button.
And my shame floats to the surface in the form of questions: “Will anyone want to read this?” Or worse: “Will anyone want to share this?”
My not-good-enough lie reveals itself as these nagging questions, and instead of staring it in the eyes and kicking it in the teeth, I am tempted to secure approval and affirmation by writing my way to a bunch of Facebook shares.
Well. To hell with that.
I can hide it and keep struggling through blog posts. Or I can kick my shame in the teeth by telling you. I can beat it back by shining light right into the shadows of my long-deceived heart.
Let. It. Shine.
Recruiting Soldiers for a New World War
Brene Brown says she wants to “start a national conversation about shame” (pg 262). I’m not sure if I’m feeling feisty or foolish or both, but I don’t just want to start a conversation.
I want to incite a global war on shame.
I am sick with shame, yes I am, but I’m also sick of shame. I want to rip it out of the hearts of every person I meet and free them up to fully live and truly love (and I think those might be the same thing, by the way).
I think the great rebellion of our age will not be against a country or a political party or a religion. I think we’re all being invited to fire the first salvos in the war against the common enemy of humanity: shame.
Every war begins with a single shot. In the War on Shame, I think every single one of us is being called to pull the trigger. Do you see the whites of its eyes?
Grace Like an Atomic Bomb
We have swallowed the bad medicine of shame, and it is time to swallow some good medicine. It is time to swallow grace.
In the War on Shame, the atomic bomb is Grace. Can you imagine, the most important enemy of our age will be fought with the ultimate weapon of Love?
Grace is the antidote to shame. It’s the antivirus, the hot-white light burning up our darkness. And this is the truth of Grace: we are broken and messy, and we are beautiful and worthy of love and belonging. We make mistakes and we stay small and we doubt anything good within ourselves, and we are of infinite value.
To be clear: Grace doesn’t make us finally “good enough.” If it did, it would be just one more object to pursue. No, Grace doesn’t create goodness in us—it testifies to the goodness that has always existed, quiet and neglected, in the depths of our souls.
Grace is the atom bomb, and we need to be vulnerable, coming out of our bomb shelters and letting others drop this bomb of love upon us. And, ultimately, we need to learn to drop it on ourselves. We need to stop thinking about grace and we need to start experiencing grace.
A Call to Action
I want to start a world war. But to be honest, in the end, if the war on shame is fought only by a small band of rebels, so be it. I’ll die fighting with them, side-by-side, heads up and determined to take back some ground for truth. And if we win back just a little bit of territory and testify to just a fraction of the beauty hidden within every soul, so be it.
Want to go down in a blaze of glory with us?
Call to Action: The blog has a new page called, “The Mess.” Click here to go to the page. I hope it will become the UnTangled hub for the war on shame. The war will be messy, because we are messy. But we will make sure The Mess oozes grace, as well. I want it to be a place we can share resources, stories, ideas, and camaraderie as we join together to fight our common enemy. This is an evolving idea and I value your input. If you have thoughts and opinions, go to the page and leave a comment there. I hope you will join the conversation. As always, thank you for reading; it’s a gift. With a war cry, Kelly
Free eBook: My new eBook, The Marriage Manifesto: Turning Your World Upside Down, is available for free to new blog subscribers. Just click here to subscribe, and your subscription confirmation e-mail will include a link to download the eBook for free. Or, the book is also available for a low price on Kindle and Nook.
Preview: My next post will be this Friday and is tentatively titled, “What a Cheap Wig and High Heels Taught Me About Grace.”
Other Popular Posts Related to Shame and Grace: