Just a reminder, this is the last week for my giveaway of The Passion Principles by Shannon Ethridge, and the Little Book of Great Dates…Like, Tweet, Share, and Comment in order to be entered to win. I’ll announce the winner on Valentine’s Day.
I was feeling particularly ashamed the other day when one of my sonâ€™s therapists was over. There were so many dust particles floating around my house it might as well have been snowing inside. Oh, the embarrassment!
Thereâ€™s the shame we place on ourselves because our reality doesnâ€™t line up with our self-expectations. Clearly, I should be dusting more often than I do. (Sigh.)
There is the shame that God does not intend for any of his children; of the “Iâ€™m Not Enough”/ “I Donâ€™t Belong” variety.
And, as Iâ€™ve said before, there is a healthy shame that leads to repentance.
However, If healthy shame is lacking in someone, it can lead to outrageous, heartbreaking, abusive, destructive, and even illegal behavior. This is the kind of shame that leaves bodies in its wake. This is toxic shame; the shame caused by another person’s harmful actions or words.
Some people argue that all sin is the same before God. I agree that our sin status makes all of us equal in needing Jesus, and therefore all the more undeserving of his amazing sacrifice and love. But, I also believe there are sins with a greater degree of wreckage, of bodies lined up and destroyed.
So, what do you do when shame is thrust upon you because of someone elseâ€™s sin?
As we return to our walk through shame in the bible, in 1st Samuel, we see king Saul acting shamefully towards Jonathan and David.
- David was anointed as Godâ€™s chosen king of Israel.
- The current reigning king, Saul, is threatened by David.
- Saul’s son, Jonathan, has become close friends with David.
- David is concerned for his life, so Jonathan concocts a plan to discover his dad’s intentions toward David.
- David will hide in a field and await Jonathan’s signal. Jonathan will shoot three arrows into the field. If he tells the errand-boy that the arrows are on “this side of him,” then David is safe. If he tells the boy that the arrows are “beyond him,” that is Davidâ€™s cue to run.
During a festival celebration, Saul noticed that David was missing from his usual seat at the table. Jonathan used the moment to test out his fatherâ€™s feelings about David. Saul saw through the plan and his anger exploded.
â€œYou son of a perverse and rebellious woman,â€ Saul flared, â€œDonâ€™t I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse (David) to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you? As long as David lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send him to me, he must die.â€ (1st Samuel 20: 30-31)
Saulâ€™s bitter response revealed both his abusive behavior toward Jonathan and his murderous plans for David.
Saul thrust his own shame upon these two men.
I never want to minimize anyoneâ€™s tragedy into Four Easy Steps Toward Healing. However, we can learn some powerful lessons from Jonathan’s response to his father’s shameful behavior.
1) Jonathan got angry. â€œJonathan got up from the table in fierce anger. . .” â€”1st Samuel 20:34
Some translators describe Jonathan’s reaction as nose-flaring anger. The guy was mad.
If something has been stolen from youâ€”your dignity, innocence, trust, self-worth, sexuality, integrity, etcâ€”getting angry can be validating. And, if handled with wisdom, anger can motivate you to reclaim what is rightfully yours and experience healing.
If you have been the victim of someone else’s abuseâ€”physical, emotional, spiritual, or otherwiseâ€”it should not have happened. Period. And it’s okay to get angry.
If someone you love has been victimized by shame, they might not even realize they have a right to be angry. Seeing a friend’s anger can minister to them.
If your church or community has not created a place for victims to come forward and talk about their shameful experiences, then find a safe person and share your story. (I’d recommend a Christian therapist.) Ask that person to help you explore healthy and righteous anger.
2) Jonathan grieved. â€œOn that second day of the month he did not eat, because he was grieved at his fatherâ€™s shameful treatment of David.â€ â€”1st Samuel 20:34
Toxic shame wants victims to believe they invited their experience somehow. But, if shame has been thrust upon you by another person’s sin, it was not your fault. Grief acknowledges the seriousness of your experience.
You are a beautiful creation made in the image of God. As such, you were created with value. The loss of your dignity or dreams at the hands of another person should be lamented and mourned.
Take time to grieve because you are worth it.
3) Jonathan did what was right. “In the morning Jonathan went out to the field of his meeting with David.â€â€”1st Samuel 20: 35
At the risk of his life and future claim to the throne, Jonathan helped David. He trusted Godâ€™s wisdom in anointing David as king, and refused to allow his father’s sin to manipulate his own actions. Jonathan walked away from his father that day and the shame-cycle stopped with him.
One of shame’s biggest tactics is to make you believe that you are not good enough to be used by God. That is a lie. Do not let another’s person’s sinful behavior keep you from pursuing God. He knows your shame and still loves you completely. He has a good and perfect plan for your life and wants to use you in powerful ways.
4) Jonathan continued to love others. â€œAfter the boy had gone, David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with this face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept togetherâ€”but David wept the most. Jonathan said to David, ‘Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lordâ€¦’ â€â€”1st Samuel 20: 41
In her book, Released From Shame, Sandra Wilson writes, “Forgiving is taking the issue of the hurter’s unpayable sin debt and handing it to God to settle. . . This includes the shamers’ sins against us. Our desires for scales balanced are realized at the cross. We can release our past into God’s hands and, in turn, be released for a future of greater emotional freedom.”
We don’t know if Jonathan ever forgave his father, but we do know that God gave Jonathan everything he needed to stay faithful to the Lord’s plan for his future. In showing true friendship to David, Jonathan refused to allow Saul’s shame to rob him of emotional freedom. Jonathan was not defined by his father’s shame.
Shame would love nothing more than keep you from experiencing intimacy and joy in relationship with others. Do not let it win.
Today, if you are suffering as a victim of someone elseâ€™s shameful behavior, I am praying for you.
Hebrews 13 says that God will never leave you nor forsake you. In other words, you do not face your shame alone.
Charles Spurgeon said,
“There is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound;
in musing on the Father, there is a quietus for every grief;
and in the influence of the Holy Ghost, there is a balsam for every sore.
Would you lose your sorrows?
Would you drown your cares?
Then go, plunge yourself in the Godheadâ€™s deepest sea;
be lost in his immensity and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest,
refreshed and invigorated.
I know nothing which can so comfort the soul;
so calm the swelling billows of grief and sorrow; so speak peace to the winds of trial,
as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead.â€
Cling to Jesus.
He will never stop upholding you.
He will never stop sustaining you.
He will never stop fighting with you.
He will set you free from shame.