Shame. That’s what he stole from me. Sneaked right into my soul and stole my prized possession, my shame. Shame ate me alive every day from the moment I woke up, usually late, until the moment I collapsed from the exhaustion of pursuing desperate distractions from the screaming hell of my shame–until the Spirit entered me a few days ago and instantly zapped all of my shame away.
There was no bigger or stronger demon than shame, for me. Fear was manageable: I could just man up or get stupid and just walk through it with practically a death wish. But shame? Nah, man. I can’t face it. It’s too horrible. Shame petrified me–turned me to stone–and made it impossible to live my life the way it was meant to be lived. I couldn’t be the kind, generous, patient man I aspired to be. But I couldn’t give up my shame. I was addicted to it.
I walked in death, and its name was shame. I merely survived as a body–feeding and clothing and sheltering myself only as much as was necessary to keep pushing blood through these veins of cells and atoms. That’s all shame allowed me to do. It wanted me only nominally alive enough to torture me. Even if I owned the whole world, I would still be little better than a corpse.
“Rats survive,” a large man in a black beret once told me over coffee. “Humans gotta live.”
Shame about what, you ask? Every mistake I ever made. Every lie, every thoughtless act, every time I neglected myself or my fellow humans. Every time I said something factually incorrect, every time I tripped on a crack in the sidewalk, every time I told a conversation-stopping joke, every time I blinked. Every time I wondered if I looked presentable in the eyes of other people. Every time I needed help and asked for it; every time I needed help and kept silent. I had to make sure I buried myself in shame to atone for how weak and pathetic I knew I was deep down. Just to be on the safe side, I dumped a few garbage truckloads onto my eternally growing mountain of shame for no cause whatsoever.
A few days ago I insisted that Christ stole nothing from me. I lied. He stole my shame from right under my nose. And replaced it with peace and freedom and forgiveness. What a ninja.
A prayer you can recite aloud right now, if you wish: “Dear Lord, with respect in my heart, I ask that you please come into this body and remove my shame. I stand in your loving light and receive the forgiveness you freely pour out to the best and the worst of us all. I understand that all that is required of me in return is that I accept this gift, if only for this moment. In silence and without expectation I await. Amen.”