February 17: Shame is the Sin

by Sara Chalfy

The readings this week raise the themes of shame and humility — two concepts which, to me as an Individualist lapsed Christian child of the 80s, have always been very uncomfortable concepts. I am well-acquainted with shame; as a young adult, guilt and shame threatened to take me down, going so far as to drive me to a suicide attempt. I loathed the ideas of original sin, or any sort of sin. I sought refuge from my shame in psychotherapy, and physiotherapy, believing that I, alone, was good enough, smart enough, and just generally enough to achieve happiness, by myself. I could beat original sin!

The thing is, shame kind of is original sin.

Shame begets itself: the more you kick yourself for feeling bad about yourself, the worse you actually feel about yourself. The only way out of this self-perpetuating cycle is to find love. The therapy and physical remedies that I sought helped me sort through my thoughts, but they did not help fill a deeper emptiness that I was feeling. I found myself looking for God. And, now that I have given myself permission to expand my idea of God beyond one single image or concept, I begin to see that God is within everything and everyone, including me. The release I seek is not exclusively within or without, it is everywhere.

I submit to God, which is love.