There are no real redeeming factors to shame.
Yet shame is used to motivate men and women from earliest our earliest days: 'what will people think of you?', 'if you had tried harder', 'if you were different then maybe'. Shame is used as a whip in chivvying along the lazy, bucking up the foolish and quietening the rowdy. Shame is used to ensure compliance and restrict rebellion.
Brene Brown in her well written book, Daring Greatly, shamelessly exposes shame's hiding places in our relationships, workplaces and lives. I've found it a profoundly helpful book - two things in particular struck me whilst reading it.
- Joy and Shame cannot coexist in the same heart for very long - one will kill the other.
- Shame is powerful, but Joy is triumphant over it - gratitude gives birth to joy which puts shame in it's place.
Brown doesn't explicitly write from a Christian perspective*, but her research observations and findings find a happy (even joyful) corollary in Christian theology. Forgiveness brings gratitude, gratitude joy, joy hope and hope does not disappoint - even in the face of the struggle with sin and shame.
My thinking about shame has brought me great joy. Joy in Jesus who took my shame, that I might know His grace.
*I struggled to know how to phrase this sentence: Brene Brown attends church, and writes about church without apology, occasionally includes crude words in her writing and is not writing to commend Christ or make theological points, per se. However, I find it hard to understand how her reflections could come from outside of a Christian worldview. The reason for struggling with the sentence is that I don't want to make a comment one way or another about Brene's faith but felt my words may well be perceived to do so, they don't.