Personal Enemy # 1 -> Shame
I’ve been pondering lately what holds me back on my journey. I know shame does. Shame is normally deeply rooted in a person, especially those who have endured severe abuse, whether it be mental, emotional, physical or sexual. Shame is the feeling and belief of being flawed and defective. Before you even recognize it or can defend yourself against it, shame severs your soul and pierces you to the core with feelings of distrust, ugliness, stupidity, doubt, worthlessness, inferiority, and unworthiness. It makes you feel different. It tells you something is wrong with you. It soils your divine identity. There are some days when I expend way too much time and energy in this conversation in my head about what’s wrong with me. At every turn I am finding something else I don’t like about myself or another way I’m not measuring up. On some days, the moment my eyes open and feet hit the floor, shame appears and follows me like a shadow. It can be the master emotion. It’s that internal voice, whispering words of condemnation. The pain of it can be so intense, that you learn to numb out so you no longer feel it.
Too often religion adds fuel to the fire by telling us that God shares this same disgust about who we are. After a childhood and youth of abuse, I turned to religion to save me from my prison. Instead, it threw away the key.
What people often hear as the so-called Christian gospel is:
“You are a filthy, dirty, incurable scumbag. God is perfectly holy. If it were up to God you’d be tossed into Hell to burn in conscious torment forever. That’s what you deserve by being you. That’s how bad you are. Thankfully, God worked this out by brutally executing his innocent son by death on a cross. If you believe and accept this along with other central doctrines, God will forgive you. God will never be fond of a scumbag like you, but at least you’ll make it into Heaven when you die. In the meantime, you’re off the hook because when God looks at scumbag you, God magically doesn’t really see scumbag you; he sees Jesus instead. You will never amount to much in God’s eyes anyway. But how amazing that God loves someone like you who doesn’t deserve it.”
None of the above is true.
You are not bad. You are not separated from God. You are not repulsive to God. Jesus did not die to save you from God. Please stop telling your children this.
Too often religion tells people that Christ is of the same substance as God but that we are a different class of being, inferior and unworthy, who deserve eternal punishment. By reinforcing this sense of separation and inadequacy, the church teaches us to think and act like sinners. The religious notion of our original badness is a ball and chain that prevents us from embracing our original goodness.