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Lenten Devotionals Sunday March 5, 2023: Pain of Shame

“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel:  Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”  (Isaiah 43:1)

Brene Brown  is known for her research on shame, which she says is different than guilt.  Guilt, she writes, can be understood as, “I did something bad.”  Shame on the other hand, is, “I am bad.”

How often we take mistakes and failings to the extreme!  If I preach a sermon that doesn’t land, suddenly I am a terrible preacher.  If I fail to meet an aspirational goal-lose that last five pounds, finish that project before vacation, practice a digital fast from social media- I am a failure.

Shame is a powerful and painful emotion that inhibits authentic living and creative work.  Because shame is rooted in our fear of being wrong, or being belittled as less than, it stunts all forms of innovation and holds us, oour churches, our organizations back.  “When our self-worth isn’t on the line,” writes Brown, “we are far more willing to be courageous and risk sharing our raw talents and gifts.

Shame also doesn’t honor the One who created, called and claimed us.  We are worthy of God’s love and redemption; we must not let our shame messages tell us otherwise.

Examine:  Listen to the shame messages you have heard or told yourself.  Breathe.  Notice thoughts and feelings that arise.

Imagine:  Imagine yourself being pieced together in yhour mother’s womb.  Picture God smiling over your birth and cradling you in Divine arms.  Bask in the knowledge that you have been claimed by God and blessed as worthy of love.

Pray:  Free me from pain, O God, so I can live with healing.