“Then (Tamar) took the pan and set out the cakes before him. But Amnon would not eat; he said, ‘Have everyone leave me.’ When they had all left him, Amnon said to Tamar, ‘Bring the nourishment into the bedroom, that I may have it from your hand.’ So Tamar picked up the cakes she had prepared and brought them to her brother Amnon in the bedroom. But when she brought them to him to eat, he seized her and said to her, ‘Come!
Lie with me, my sister!’ But she answered him, ‘No my brother! Do not shame me! That is an intolerable crime in Israel. Do not commit this insensate deed. Where would I take my shame? And you would be a discredited man in Israel.’”
II Samuel 13: 9-13
New American Bible
“Unloosed From The Shackles of Shame”
“Shame is closely related to guilt, but there is a key qualitative difference. No audience is needed for feelings of guilt, no one else need know, for the guilty person is (her) own judge. Not so for shame. The humiliation of shame requires disapproval or ridicule by others. If no one ever learns of a misdeed there will be no shame, but there still might be guilt. Of course, there may be both. The distinction between shame and guilt is very important, since these two emotions may tear a person in opposite directions. The wish to relieve guilt may motivate a confession, but the wish to avoid humiliation or shame may prevent it.”
SHAME: A painful feeling brought about by a strong sense of guilt, embarrassment, unworthiness or disgrace. One that brings dishonor, disgrace, or condemnation.
Has there ever been a time in my life when I felt “shame” for something I had done?
How would I have felt if I had been in Tamar’s place?
What do the words, “Do not shame me,” bring to my mind?
“Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides;
Who cover faults, at last shame them derides.”
“They sewed fig leaves together as makeshift clothes for themselves.”
Genesis 3: 7
The Message Bible
A hush fell over the Garden of Eden. For Adam and Eve, it was appointment time. A visitor was calling in their garden home. Genesis 3: 8 tells us, “They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.”
But it is with heart-wrenching sadness that I share with you the rest of the words found in Genesis 3: 8, 9 which reveal that, “Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’”
It was a very simple question. Our Father trying to find out what was bothering His children so much that they would miss spending time with Him. Unfortunately, life in Eden had changed forever. Sadly, my dearest friends, this is when words like guilt, shame and death entered a world that was once the perfect home to a perfect pair – Adam and Eve.
Ever since that tragic day, the offspring of the first couple, have faced the emotional, spiritual and even physical consequences which are the result of “doing your own thing.”
When you think of people who did what they wanted so they could get what they wanted, Amnon, the son of David, certainly figures prominently for his life story is that of a headstrong, lust-filled young man who flexed his royal power and position to overwhelm his unsuspecting sister Tamar and rape her.
It is at this juncture I want to stop and look at the plaintive request from Tamar’s lips to her brother Amnon, “Do not shame me,” she cried out. And I ask you, “What woman wouldn’t be begging for a rape to stop?”
The very poignant part of Tamar’s request though, has to do with the word “shame.” I deeply appreciate the thoughtful differences author Paul Ekman makes between guilt and shame. As he notes, shame carries with it humiliation – even disapproval and ridicule by others. To get a better understanding of this concept, I’d like both God’s daughters and sons who come to Transformation Garden to revisit your high school days in your mind for just a minute. Think back to the way labels were slapped on people, maybe even yourself. I know that at my school there were “good girls” and “those girls.” Sometimes referred to as “easy girls.” Now if a guy on the football team was running around with every girl in town, he was just “sowing his wild oats.” But let a girl exhibit the same behavior, and she would be called a tramp or much worse. And often, whatever demeaning label was stuck on her was done so with snickers behind her back and trash talking when she wasn’t around. The consequence for some girls was such a massive blow to their self-worth that years later, the effects were and are still evident. I’ll never forget talking years later with some high school friends and a certain girl’s name came up. One of those girls who had been branded as, “that kind of girl.” Well, guess what? She wasn’t “that kind of girl” at all. Seems a young man she stood up to decided to get back at her by telling a false story of his exploits which were nothing but lies. Yet, with other open ears ready and willing to listen and loose lips eager to pass on idol gossip, a reputation was in ruins and the specter of shame surrounded this girl for years.
If we dwell on the tragedy of shame we find in Eden’s garden home or in a room where a brother raped his own sister, our hearts would be devastated and the shame we might be living with in our own lives could entrench itself even more deeply.
Praise God – we don’t have to live one moment covered by a cloud of shame for when Jesus came to earth, He gave us firsthand evidence that in His company, there’s a sign that says, “No Shame Here.”
Probably one of the most graphic examples of Christ’s ability to wipe away the shame we all carry in one way or another is found in Luke 8: 43-48. The woman in this story had suffered from “a flow of blood for twelve years.” We must remember that at this time in history, especially in religious circles, illness was seen as a curse from God. But what made this situation more offensive, especially for a woman, was that when you were bleeding, you were considered unclean. This meant everybody knew about your problem. Talk about “shaming.” Even more heartrending was the fact that a bleeding woman was pronounced untouchable! You were ostracized and isolated! Yet, with all this baggage, we find this precious daughter of God didn’t allow the shame inflicted on her life to hold her back from reaching out to Jesus and finding the healing she longed for.
I absolutely love the way Kathy Galloway in “Shame,” in Silence in Heaven relates to this story:
“It’s this whole mess of blame and guilt and separation and bad judgment and fear and loathing and the voices that haunt us from the past saying…you don’t fit…you’re not wanted…get lost…that the Bible calls sin. Sin is living out of our fears. Sin is not being free. It’s the seepage of our whole sense of ourselves. It’s feeling like the woman with the hemorrhage of blood. I imagine that she might have felt something like this:
‘Shame, or not shame.
I never know.
I know that all the messages of flesh
and blood scream at me, ‘shame, you should feel shame,
you are not clean, you do not measure up
to what the standard is.’
This seepage, slippage, flow and flood,
this blood that comes and comes
but will not come in proper places
but shames and blames and bleeds
upon the rages of pride and shame
and stains and taints and taunts
and shames and haunts the wretchedness
of those who claim, or would absorb it.
This blood, that I cannot contain
that rises, swells, torments, distends,
that weakens, wastes, defeats, unsexes,
undermines and unacceptably lays low,
this shame, this means that never finds an end,
this blood, this flood, this torrent never spent,
this shame, this shame, this shame.’
But shame is not the end of the story. Or it needn’t be. Like the woman, perhaps there is something else, some instinct, some deep desire or belief, even some despair, that says, ever so quietly…‘this isn’t true. This is not true, THIS IS NOT THE WAY IT’S MEANT TO BE, THIS IS A LIE.’ That small voice haunts us, drives us, to take a risk, to reach out, to touch the hem of a cloak, to claim back our humanity, our belonging, our life, to put an end to fear. That small voice is the voice of God.”
What a blessing that instead of our voices crying out like Tamar, “Do not shame me,” our Father’s voice calls out to each of us, reclaiming our lives from the shame that holds us back…the shame that makes us hesitant to believe we have a heavenly birthright as the daughters and sons of God.
“Where there is yet shame, there may be in time virtue.”
“Have mercy on me, O life-giver, through your goodness.
In your great tenderness soothe away my faults.
Cleanse me of my guilt,
do not hold my failures against me.
For I have come to see that I fail you,
when I have not acknowledged with my whole being
that I am made truly in your image;
in not walking in your ways I have sinned against you.
You are love and truth itself
and seek sincerity of heart;
teach me the secrets of wisdom.
Cleanse me from all that prevents me
from listening to Your word.”
(Based on Psalm 51: 1-7)
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. Just to let you know, Transformation Garden is now on FACEBOOK. Please come and see us and share the garden with your friends. The Daily Devotional is posted everyday, Monday through Friday on Facebook, too.
My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, and www.Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You may also call Transformation Garden at 602-368-1245.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.