“Shame is an epidemic in our culture and to get out from underneath it, to find our way back to each other, we have to understand how it affects us, how it affects our parenting, the way we’re working, [and] the way we look at each other.” Brene Brown
For the last few years, I’ve been coaching my daughter’s softball team. It’s not always easy to coach your own child or to teach your child new things. It’s not always easy to be coached or taught by your father either. During one of our first games this summer, my daughter was pitching for the first time. The fast-pitch motion isn’t easy to learn. Being out there by yourself isn’t easy either. She got really nervous. I knew from watching her practice that she could pitch and pitch well. But, as her anxiety level grew, so did mine.
As a coach, I’m allowed one visit to the mound per inning. I went to talk with her and it didn’t help. When I returned to the other side of the fence, I didn’t know how to calm or encourage her. She was upset. I was upset. I became impatient and spoke to her (loudly) in a tone that was more harsh than I realized. My wife came to the dugout to let me know how bad this sounded in front of the other parents. She also helped me see that I was unintentionally embarrassing and hurting my daughter. I felt like I was a lousy coach and a terrible father. In that moment, a rush of shame washed over me. I felt likea terrible father.
What is shame? As Edward Welch explains, “Shame is the deep sense that you are unacceptable because of something you did, something done to you, or something associated with you. You feel exposed and humiliated.”
It’s time to start talking about shame. In fact, the discussion has already begun. In June of 2010, a (then) little known research professor and therapist named Brene Brown delivered a 20-minute speech about shame and vulnerability at a TED Talks conference (TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.) Since then, millions of people have used Netflix, YouTube or the TED website to watch Brene describe a personal breakdown which became a spiritual awakening for her. Coming to terms with her own shame helped transform her life.
Shame is a quiet killer. It damages the way we view ourselves. It damages the way we relate to others. It damages the way we parent. “Shame is the gremlin that says you are not good enough.” (Brene Brown) That gremlin shouts at us, “You are ugly, unclean, unlovable, repulsive, worthless, vile, disgusting, loathed and a lost cause.” When we fail, or when someone sees us in a less than flattering light, or when we feel exposed, shame approaches with the crippling message: “you are not good enough and you never will be.” Sadly, we believe this lie!
Beginning on Sunday, September 7, New Creation Church will begin a sermon series called “Hiding in Plain Sight: Emerging from the Shadow of Shame.” Shame can send us into hiding as we try to avoid being exposed. We are turning the tables on shame. We will work to expose shame so we can we can come out of hiding together.
Please, join on us Sundays at 10 a.m. to see how God brings us out of the darkness of shame and into the light of his grace and love.