Finding An Alternative To Shame

By Diana Vaden

Photo by Emilio Garcia

Photo by Emilio Garcia

FINDING AN ALTERNATIVE TO SHAME

Shame is like a slap in the face.

It slapped me on New Year’s Day while I was folding laundry.

New Year’s Eve did not go how I intended. To the outside eye, I was just another girl on the dance floor when the balloons dropped. Just an ordinary girl dancing with a guy she had a little crush on.

But the reality was more serious -- this wasn’t the wisest crush. I was playing with fire.

Fast forward a couple hours and a few too many drinks later, and I was moving towards some physical boundaries I told myself I wouldn’t cross. Thankfully, he was much too drunk to respond to my tipsy seduction. The night ended with me going straight home after helping him find a couch to pass out on. Nevertheless, I was NOT proud of how I conducted myself.

We all have moments we wish we could do-over. And that’s when shame can come a-knocking…

WHAT SHAME LOOKS LIKE

The next day when folding clothes, thoughts bombarded me:

— “You know better than to lead a guy on like that, Diana!”
— “You should be embarrassed for even thinking of fooling around with him!”
— “Aren’t you trying to be pure?”
— “Remember the last time you got too close to someone who wasn’t right for you?”
— “Shame on you for making that mistake again.”
— “You’ll never learn, Diana.”

Then the slap: “You’re dirty and never make wise decisions.” Ouch!

Now, I’m bawling into a clean t-shirt, feeling hopeless.

REPLACING SHAME

I really want to live without regret, to build a future that looks different than my past — especially in regard to boundaries in my love life. But I’m often crippled by the fear of repeating old mistakes. Shame feeds on that fear and tells me I’ll never change.

Shame throws stones at us for messing up.

But there’s an alternative to shame, and that’s where Jesus steps in. He invites us into grace.

DISGRACE KEEPS US STUCK, GRACE SETS US FREE.

A woman in the Bible got caught in an affair and suffered ridicule for it. People circled around her, condemned her, and labeled her by her mistake. Their verdict: “This is the end for you, missy!”

But Jesus intervened. He convinced them to drop their stones and walk away. He gave her a second chance. Instead of shaming her, Jesus encouraged her to live well the next day.

MAKING THE SWITCH FROM DISGRACE TO GRACE

As I cried into my clothes, I forced myself to stop listening to those condemning thoughts and asked,Jesus, what do you have to say?”

Deep in my gut, in my spirit, I felt relieved. Thoughts of grace flooded in:

Tomorrow is a second chance.

— Tomorrow does not have to be like last night.

— Tomorrow we are going to re-establish healthy boundaries.

— You can change. You’ve got this.

Does shame ever slap you in the face? Do you want to live with an alternative to disgrace?