One of the greatest joys in my life is spending time with my nieces and nephew. Spending time with my three nieces and nephew has definitely made me less nervous about having children of my own.
Earlier this week I was hanging out with my sister and her family. Her daughters, Naomi and Leilani, are the light of my life; I love hanging out with them. On that particular evening, though, they each had a moment of shame.
Leilani had her moment because she was defiant towards me. We were at the dinner table and she was intentionally drooling on the floor. I told her to stop and she said no. My sister then put her in time out. After a couple minutes I went and sat next to her and asked her to apologize. She didn't want to initially, not because we don't have a good relationship, but because she felt bad for being defiant.
Naomi had her moment when she accidentally hit Alycia with a toy golf club. We had told Naomi not to swing the golf club in the air and, when she did it again, she hit Alycia. Naomi didn't hurt Alycia but I could see that Naomi was upset. She immediately shut down, started pouting and wanted to be with her mom. Naomi felt bad that she had hit her auntie, she felt shame, but didn't know what to do with it.
It was fascinating to see how my two-year-old and four-year-old nieces dealt with their shame. Leilani didn't want to talk with me and Naomi just wanted to go to the person with whom she felt safest. Even though we're older, we don't often deal with our shame any better.
When we feel ashamed we often shut down like Leilani. We don't want to talk, we don't want to address our shame, we just want to avoid it. I don't know how many times I've felt ashamed and done everything I could do to get away from it.
When we feel ashamed we also run away like Naomi. Naomi ran to her mom because she feels safest there. Unfortunately when we run away, we don't run to our parents or any other life-giving relationship. We run to those habits or sins that comfort us in the short-term, but ultimately bring us even more shame.
Shame is a carousel upon which we can get trapped. Unless we do the hard work of addressing or shame and bringing it to the light, we might as well be riding a fake horse round and round. We can't deny shame like Leilani and we can't run away from it like Naomi. In their defense, they don't know any better, but we do.
The only way to truly move beyond our shame and keep it from hampering us is to bring it to light. That is definitely a scary prospect, but far more preferable than holding onto our shame and allowing it to constantly weigh us down.
How do you deal with shame?