I love meetings. I hear stuff that I just don’t believe at first. Ok, I know this is a goofy path for a journal entry but hang with me. I believe and the Bible is clear that God reveals Himself to us in many ways including reading His word, prayer, being still and shutting up and listening, worship, and even yes even other people. That includes recovery meetings. See, God LOVES revealing himself to me in recovery meetings. Only, I am too thick to see Him coming most of the time.
So I am going to shamelessly steal this incredible share that a friend of mine used recently in the Thursday night group. Yes, you know who you are. He announced very proudly that tonight his topic would be on shame. I seriously felt the air leave the room. If it was a larger group, you would have audibly heard the collective “ughhhhhh.” Sorry my friend, maybe it was just me but I think we all felt it.
I seriously considered just mentally checking out. I steadied myself for another reminder that shame meant I thought “I am bad” and guilt meant I healthily thought “I did bad things.” So moral of the story, feel guilt not shame. Blah blah blah, right? Only my friend is way smarter than me so of course that isn’t what he said at all.
His opening statement was that shame is an emotion from God but can be completely self centered and hinder recovery. What did he just say? Ok, I am awake now. He said that allowing ourselves to wallow (his words, not mine!) in our shame was another form of justification for our actions. Ok, so that is a bit harsh, don’t you think? I mean, come on. I thought we are supposed to feel sorry for guys stuck in shame because they are wrongly focused on thinking they are a bad person, not in the right area of guilt where they remember God’s salvation and redemption and that they have done bad things. Only…that isn’t what he was saying. He was saying that staying in shame is a cop-out, basically.
Ok, I am really paying attention now. Keep going. So my friend said there are three ways of recognizing that we are stuck in shame in our own lives. Three warning signs that we are in shame and that staying there is selfish.
- We are acting out of fear because we are afraid to expose our true self and need to hide. Yikes, that hurt. Definitely a cop out I take
- We are blaming and refusing to admit the truth. Basically, I let myself off the hook by setting such a low standard. Obviously, I suck so therefore I can’t expect to be much better. Yep, definitely a technique I have used.
- We disconnect and don’t feel or experience our emotions. This robs us from feeling compassion for those we have hurt. Yeah, emotional avoidance. I rock at that.
So shame is selfish. Yeah, I guess it is. So what do I do about it? Community. Community is the key. Being able to walk into my groups, share my garbage, and still be loved. Wow, what an antidote for shame. I love the quote he closed the share with and dropped the mic, so I will steal it (again, sorry my friend!): “As long as I am conditionally known, I will be conditionally loved.”