An old companion showed up in my life this week. I hadn’t missed him, I was glad that he had been gone. In fact, I was quite surprised how readily and easily he slipped back into my life. He is shame.
Though guilt, embarrassment, and shame share some lineage, they are completely different animals. Guilt and embarrassment might goad you into doing something you should; shame pins you to the wall and prevents you from doing anything. Shame does nothing but destroy you.
So while I’m trying to deal with this returning companion, I come across the phrase: Judge not, lest ye be judged. I read it again and the tumblers clicked into place. Jesus wasn’t just talking about judging other people; he was also talking about judging ourselves. Now I don’t mean that we are not supposed to inspect and reflect on our actions or lack of actions and set things right. But judging, convicting, and punishing ourselves is not within our right. It is above our pay grade. Only God gets to do that.
Shame found that he was no longer welcome with me. Good riddance.