Category Archives: shame

Being Restored


Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part. Our counsel is that you warn the freeloaders to get a move on. Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other’s nerves you don’t snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.

1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 (MSG)

As I look at different translations of the Bible I get diverse perspectives of certain passages. This passage is well known to me and probably to many others as well. What stands out to me in all the versions is this: there is not a one size fits all approach to how we treat people.  We all carry different loads, and we must first assess another person’s situation before we know how to speak to them.

There are those who are easily shamed because of past wounds inflicted upon them. Depending on their response style, some may lean toward withdrawing and shutting down. But there are others who become arrogant and rebellious. They both cannot be treated with the same firmness. But they can both be treated with patience and care.

Nan was reading to me yesterday about shame and how those closest to us are most likely to trigger the greatest amounts of shame. Fear of being shamed is an extremely powerful source of relational anxiety. Both men and women will go to great lengths to protect themselves against any anticipated humiliation. Why is it so intense within the family? The truth is, there is a lot of pressure on men to be seen as the “hero” to his family. Wives and children both want him to succeed at this role. To fail is to incur shame at a deep level. Wives, too, have had the burden of needing to be the “superwoman” of the family.  It can be tough for both men and women to keep up with the image that has been created by them or for them.

The passage above from 1 Thessalonians instructs us to engage with people regardless of where they might fall on a continuum. Some folks will need to be “lifted up” while others may need to be “jammed up” (confronted). This cannot be accomplished with anger, but rather with appropriate assertiveness. Both those who over-perform and under-perform need guidance, which means maintaining the relationship, especially through the tough spots.

The best way to avoid shaming a person is to approach them in private and express care for them first. The overworked person needs reassurance that they will still be seen just as positively if they share the burden with others. The “freeloaders” must be given a vision of the respect they will receive by being a fully engaged participant. If that doesn’t produce results, then the Bible tells us to enlist more authority (Matt.18:15-16).

Always remember that the goal is restoration. While not always achievable, it still remains the goal.

Pine Needles and Excuses

From a distance, everything looked serene, like one of those magazine covers that make you wonder why you live in the city (maybe you don’t, so empathize with me). It wasn’t until closer inspection that I could see hundreds of thousand of pine needles building up on the landscape. Pine needles, dry and flammable – and this during an extreme fire warning with wildfires close by. What a great metaphor for our lives.
If you look at the picture above, what you probably don’t see is the extra inches I am carrying around the belly-button. (Okay, maybe some of you can.) And you can’t hear that my breathing is a little too labored. That takes examination much closer up.
A good friend of mine, Dr. Bill Dyment generously sent me a copy of his new book that he co-wrote with Dr. Marcus Dayhoff entitled “Fire Your Excuses”  It only took a couple of chapters to realize that this book could change a person’s life. I immediately recognized all the excuses from listening to clients in the counseling room. Unfortunately, I also acknowledged many of them from my own life and how they produce feelings of shame. 
Consider this book an invitation to take a close up look at your life.

Do you have a ready list of excuses that you pull out regularly?
As a kid, I hated doing yard work. I was somewhat overweight, unmotivated, and it was a power struggle between me and my dad. So when I looked at the acres of pine needles I needed a breakthrough. Using some tips from the book I approached the task.
  • I first had to adjust my way of thinking. I was thinking negatively, and I realized it was an emotional component left over from my childhood. Once into the raking, I actually enjoyed it. Dealing with a past hurt or struggle might be your first step. 
  • I couldn’t finish it all in the time allotted, so I tackled what I thought was the most important first, not just the most noticeable. That turned out to be the stuff closest to structures. What is the most significant area of your life that needs attention right now? 
  • I set goals and stuck to them. I didn’t allow myself to be distracted. I didn’t overdo it, so I wouldn’t get discouraged. You might need to have a coach to help you set realistic goals, and a team to push you when you want to quit. 

Is this what the book is about? Well, actually it’s just a little corner of it. It’s about dealing with all the areas of life where we are likely to make excuses: blind spots, health, finances, time management, career, social connections, serving, and communication. So many of these areas are hard to face alone, but not facing them is like leaving those pine needles to build up until disaster finally comes and the loss is terrible. There is even a free assessment online to help you get started at  

Brene Brown Video On Vulnerability

It is entirely possible that I am one of the last on the planet to be aware of this TED talk. And if so you can all just laugh (with) me. But I suspect that there will be many that will be challenged and blessed by Brene Brown’s short, but powerful video.

For me, I am particularly grateful that I learned about Brene Brown from a couple of my counseling clients.

Two days in a row I was directed to listen to her TED talks — this one on vulnerability and another on shame. I am grateful because I am committed to not only teach, but to also learn from my younger friends. Over the years I have gained many valuable insights and been referred to excellent books and resources by not giving in to a kind of arrogance of age. Oh, wait, I guess I am talking about vulnerability here — admitting I don’t know everything — that I don’t have the market cornered on wisdom and knowledge, even in my selected field.

The phrase we have always used is “having a teachable spirit”. 

For some it may be hard to be vulnerable in this area. It may trigger feelings of inadequacy and shame. Sort of like what the video is addressing. But I see it as an indicator of growth, of maturity.

Are you comfortable and secure in your inadequacies? Can you freely admit them without shame?

I made so many spiritual connections that were implicit, but obvious in this video. Take a listen and tell me what you think.