Staring Down our Shame

A few weeks ago, I received a phone call;”Mrs. Adair? This is your son’s school calling. Do you have a few minutes?”

Several days later -yes within the same week- my hubby received a call;”Mr. Adair? This is your son’s school calling….. ” Different son. Different school.

The situations were wildly different as were the intentions behind the actions that resulted in the phone calls home and yet both situations resulted in feelings of embarrassment, helplessness, and some shame. The boys had different responses to their situations but what boggled them most was what they should do next and how they should feel moving forward.

Now here’s the zippy twist on this situation: not one week later I was feeling frustrated, confused, uninformed, disappointed, and a bit hormonal about how a situation went down. Since I’m oh-so very wise, mature, and adult-ish, I decided to send out a group text venting my disappointment to those involved in the situation. Of course, it went over like a lead balloon with this group of people that I didn’t know very well. My knee-jerk emotions were embarrassment, doubt and shame.

While I had just given two different versions of the same lecture to my boys about owning their crap and slaying potential shame, I had to lecture my own heart with a third version.

Here’s the mash-up:

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You made a mistake, intentionally or not, now own it to the best of your ability. Hiding or running away from mistakes is not an option. Everyone makes mistakes but only some mistakes are made public but believe me, sooner or later everyone’s brokenness is revealed whether they say a word or not. Ultimately, it’s how you address your own brokenness that sets you apart.

There are three essentials to leadership: humility, clarity and courage. —Fuchan Yuan

 

The temptation of the heart after making a public mistake, a mistake made public by others, or a misunderstood choice is to hide and feel shameful. While Guilt is the recognition that you’ve done something wrong, intentionally or unintentionally Shame is a different creature – it’s a monster. The more you run and hide from it, the more powerful it becomes in your life. The goal of Shame is to tear you up and render you useless. Shame feeds the ugly creatures of Fear and People-pleasing which ultimately give birth to Anxiety.

Shame taunts you and causes you to become consumed with yourself. It questions your motives, personality, friendships, and value.

That was so stupid of you. How could you have done/said that?

Now everyone knows how stupid you are…

Maybe you aren’t stupid, selfish, judgemental, etc but everyone else is sure going to think so.

Your dumb choice has now caused lots of people to dislike you.

You should feel really lonely right about now.

In fact, those people probably didn’t really like you in the first place.

You need to run from this situation and find new friends who don’t know about your mistakes.

Don’t share your mistakes. No one will like you if you do. They need to be your own secrets and burdens to carry through this life….

Did you catch how focused on self each of those statements are? Shame taunts you with your mistakes. Shame tries to sink it’s poisonous claws into your shoulders so it can perch and hover over your life.

Shame is not from God. Conviction is a gift from God. It’s the call to action – to set things right again or press forward in a situation. We feel conviction when we know we’ve done something wrong and we need to correct it just as we feel conviction to change our attitudes or behaviors, lifestyle, or live out our purpose.

(I pause for a breath and wait for hope to light the eyes of my boys and the dark corners of my own heart.)

Now it’s time to stop running away from the situation, turn and face the monster of shame, grab it by the horns, and throw it to the ground. This is your opportunity to stand in courage. No one can do this for you. You can only do this with tremendous humility.

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do. —Eleanor Roosevelt

 

First, make things right with God and then make things right with others. Apologize, in whatever form is appropriate, for your misstep – whether it was intentional or not. Go to the person, teacher, peer or whoever and apologize. If it was to a group, apologize to the group.

The two most powerful words in any person’s arsenal are the humble and sincere words- “I’m sorry.”

When questioned about the situation, own it. “Yep, I blew it…” “You’re right – I misjudged the situation. I sure learned my lesson.” Certainly be humble and open to discussion to clear up the situation but there’s no need to grovel, over-explain, or humiliate yourself to prove yourself to others. If people want to believe the best about you, they will. If they want to believe the worst about you, they will. You’ll never be able control other people’s thoughts or opinions about you but you can sure impact those opinions with how you handle yourself in the midst of a hard situation as well as how you live your everyday life.

We live in a society obsessed with public opinion. But leadership has never been about popularity. —Marco Rubio

 

Then give other people the freedom to make mistakes, own them, and know that they’re still accepted.

Realize that you’ll make more mistakes so be patient with yourself. Other people will also make mistakes. Be patient with them. And then move on….

Please don’t forget that Shame is waiting right around the corner but the more you slay it, the easier it is to recognize and slay the next time.

To my precious boys who are becoming amazing young men:

Your identities as beloved children of The King are secure.

Your identities as my beloved sons are secure.

Your identities as leaders is yours for the taking.

Now live it.