Diane Langberg and I talked recently about the concept of shame. She mentioned reading an interesting mystery that had a couple of lines about shame that might be powerful imagery for some. The novel, C.J. Sansom’s Sovereign, is about a hunchbacked lawyer. About 200 pages in the lawyer has an encounter with King Henry the 8th. The King scorns the lawyer publicly for his hunch (at which everyone laughed).
His first reaction?
“Now I had met him. I felt for a second that he shown me what I was, an unworthy creature, a beetle crawling on the earth.” (p. 221)
Then anger arises in the lawyer. Why? for he recognizes the weight on him is not his own shame, but that of the king.
Whose shame do you carry? Most often we carry either the clear shame of our own misdeeds OR the shame foisted on us by the misdeeds of others. And it seems that the shame put upon us by abuse and maltreatment weighs us down the most. Often those who mistreat us do so in ways to make us believe that in fact we are worthy of shame or that they are righteous in their treatment of us.
What would happen if you saw it not as your own but thrust upon you by those who mistreated you? If you could hand it back (metaphorically), would your own back straighten? Would you feel less dirty and self-negating? If you suffer from shame due to mistreatment, try to imagine that the feelings are not yours but in fact the abusers. Imagine what life might be like if you were to shed that shame that does not belong to you.