You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘shame’ tag.

When my son was younger, one of the kids from the neighborhood came over just as my son and his friends were getting ready to ride their bikes. Landon (not his real name) didn’t have a bike, so I told him he could borrow mine.

When Landon came back he looked guilt-ridden. One of the other kids was saying to him, “You’re in big trouble, man. She’s gonna get real mad at you. She’ll tell your mom, and you’ll be on punishment forever. Nothing you can do about it.”

When Landon finally came up to me on the porch, he apologized. “For what, honey?” I asked. “I broke the bike,” he said. “My mom gets paid on Friday, so I’ll ask her to pay for the bike, and I’ll do chores to pay her back. Might take me a year, but I’ll make it right.”

This was both touching and heartbreaking. What a long ride back it must have been for that young man. Especially with the other kid bending his ear, piling guilt upon fear.

“No need for that, son. That bike was already hinky. One of Cole’s other friends messed it up, and didn’t even apologize. Don’t worry about it for a minute. Come on. We’re having Jiffy Pop.”

I wanted to say to the other child who’d appointed himself chief guilt-inducer, You should be ashamed! But it was too late for that. He already was. Misery loves company, and that’s the only language he knew. Someone had said these things to him, too, in his lifetime. I decided to extend hospitality to him instead. “Popcorn for you?” I asked.

Shame can be contagious, but luckily, there’s an antidote: grace.

Advertisements

One of my favorite movies, Jerry Maguire, was on TV the other day. There’s a particular scene that always gets me right here💘. Marcee is on the phone with sports agent Maguire, who tells her that her husband, Rod, has been injured in a football game.

“This family doesn’t work without him, Jerry,” she says. “Just get him home to me.”

That line has some kind of magical quality. It talks directly to my tear duct. Even if I rewind the scene and play it again, knowing it’s coming…I can’t help it. Got me!

To me, that scene is the distillation of the emotion we all feel for a loved one we cherish. We want them to be okay. We expend energy trying to find ways to cover them with love, even from afar.

We care so much about our little tribe that we come at them with “help” that really sounds like anger. “You need to make sure you get that homework done, or you’ll never get that job you want once you graduate!”

Way to pile guilt on top of anxiety! Mother of the year!

How often do religions do this as well? That is, foster fear, guilt and shame that can cause a person’s spirit to break and actually keeps potential converts away. The only true path to grace is leading with love. Any religion — or company, or politician, or human being — who treats people with kindness and means what they say? I’m right there with them.

So I bought a frozen pizza that was on sale for less than a dollar. Turned on the oven and put the pizza in to cook. Once it was done, I tried to pull it out of the oven, but it got stuck on the rack. After a struggle  to get it out of the oven, I was really hungry and took a bite. Instantly, I regretted it, as it was still too hot and it burned the roof of my mouth. To boot, it was flavorless, as if I was eating the box it came in. All that work and it tasted like cardboard.

And I thought, how many life experiences are like that?

You twist yourself into contortions for someone else (insert situation here: a peer group, a romantic interest, a potential employer, etc.) and end up looking back on it with regret. They didn’t like you anyway, even after you changed yourself to make them like you. And you didn’t like yourself in that context either. That wasn’t you.

When the past comes at you with all the weapons in its arsenal – shame, guilt, and regret – whip out the shield to fend off all efforts to get under your skin and into your soul: faith. Faith that every day is a clean slate and a chance to start again – on your own terms. Faith that the choices you made in the past were your best efforts at the time, and helped you build an acumen for action going forward. Faith in the fact that life is good and you deserve every good thing it has to offer.

And as for that negative narrator in your head, reminding you of times you’d just as soon forget? Put on your boots, kick it to the curb, and keep moving.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: