I was watching a show on Discovery channel about the terrible incident in 1989 where the Exxon Valdez oil tanker ran aground and spilled over 10 million gallons of unrefined Alaskan crude oil into Prince William Sound, causing the largest oil spill in North American history. Even now the consequences of that spill can be seen and measured in many ways. One of the things that grieved my spirit the most about that whole thing was the impact to animal life in a 1200 mile radius. I bet many of you still remember the pictures of volunteers holding the poor, almost lifeless birds covered, completely covered, in that oil. The volunteers used Dawn dishwashing liquid to painstakingly wash each feather, each beak, each foot of each bird they worked with. The birds would have died like so many others did had they not been cleaned of that oil. They could not walk because of the oil, they could not breathe well because of the oil. They absolutely could not fly, because of the oil. They could not eat, because of the oil. Everything they needed to do to live, they simply could not do because of that thick, smelly, slippery, life choking oil!
Does that familiar to anyone?? That is the picture of shame. Dark, black, smelly, consuming shame. It covers ever single part of those who have not been cleaned of it. Everything we need to do in a healthy way as a human-being, we can not do because of shame. Just like the volunteers had to painstakingly wash every feather clean of that oil, we too need to be painstaking about cleaning the shame out of our lives. It impacts the journey of lifestyle change more than any other thing I know. Shame is life choking, just like the oil. It is dark, just like the oil. It causes us to slip, just like the oil did to the birds. There is NOTHING good or healthy about shame. I also believe that shame is why we yo-yo diet so often. We can loose all the weight in the world, but if we still have shame deeply rooted in our lives, we will certainly gain it back again.
Here are a few clues that will let you know if you have shame deeply rooted in your life.
*You say I'm sorry as a common response to just about anything
*You often punish yourself for perceived wrongdoing
*Your self talk or internal dialogue is negative and unhealthy most of the time
*You believe most everything is your fault.
*You say "I should have ________"(you fill in the blank) most of the time
*You are sure that others are thinking "bad" things about you
OK, OK, you get the picture. Now the question becomes how in the world do we begin to break or challenge the shame in our lives. Great question. Now, what's the answer?? This is where I am going to pass it on to you guys. I know that shame is "cleaned" off of us one feather at a time. What does that mean to you? How have you actually "cleaned a feather" and challenged shame in your life? Can you share some ways that you think are helpful in identifying or challenging shame in our life? How can we walk out of it? I would also love to hear from some of you on the bigger spiritual answer to the question of shame.
Have a great rest of the week end and I'll see you next week!