Wednesday, May 10, 2023

May 10--Guilt & Shame

Everyone behaves badly... Give them a proper chance.  --Ernest Hemingway

    Three strikes and you are out? Forgive seven times seventy? How many proper chances are too many? I certainly can't answer that one. 
    Here are some excellent words regarding shame and guilt from Richard Rohr:
What we call Original Sin in Genesis perhaps could be better called Original Shame, because Adam and Eve describe themselves as feeling naked. Some of the first words of God to these newly created people are “Who told you that you were naked?” (Genesis 3:11). Next, in a lovely maternal image, God as seamstress sews leather garments for them (3:21). The first thing God does after creation itself is cover the shame of these new creatures.

This must name something that is fundamental within us. We live, not just in an age of anxiety, but also in a time of significant shame. I find very few people who do not feel inadequate, stupid, dirty, or unworthy. When people come to me for counseling or confession, they always express in one way or another, “If people only knew the things I think, the things I’ve done, the things I’ve said, the things I want to do, who would love me?” We all have that terrible feeling of a fundamental unworthiness. It takes many different forms, but somehow it appears in each of our lives, even if we do not acknowledge it.

Guilt, I am told, is about things we have done or not done, but our shame is about the primal emptiness of our very being. Shame is not about what we have done, but about who we are and who we are not. Guilt is a moral question. Shame—foundational shame, at least—has to do with our very being itself. It is not resolved by changing behavior as much as by changing our very self-image, our alignment with the universe. Shame is not about what we do, but where we abide.
    We all experience shame at some point. It does not feel good. Let us cut each other a break. 
Alan Seeger Natural Area,

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