Shalom says we all are connected. Every relationship created by God is strung together in a web of intimate relationships. To affect one is to affect all. So when our distrust of God leads us to separate ourselves from God, we also are separated from ourselves. We govern ourselves in our own ways, not in God’s way. We don’t trust ourselves. We don’t choose ourselves. Even the narcissist, who seems to choose only himself, does it because of his fear that his inherent unworthiness will be exposed. He places the barrier of the appearance of perfection between himself and everyone else as protection from exposure.
• Lisa Sharon Harper
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On Sundays in Easter, we are hearing from Lisa Sharon Harper about The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right. Her book is about the fullness of the good news that Jesus lived, died, rose again, and ascended into heaven to give us. Harper tells us that God’s good news is about shalom, the opposite of our often “thin” understanding of the gospel.
Following Harper’s thoughts about shalom with God, she takes up the subject of “Shalom with Self” in chapter 5 of her book. The opposite of the shalom God intends for us is shame — being disconnected from God and others and imagining that we ourselves are not worthy of being loved.
At its heart, shame is a fear that our failures, our shortcomings, our true selves make us unworthy of connection. The core lie of shame is I am not enough.
This is why we make use of various “fig leaves” in the attempt to cover ourselves before God and others. But it does more than that. As the story of the primordial couple shows, we not only try to hide, but we also become defensive and antagonistic. If we give in to shame, it can further disrupt our relational connections.
In the end, shame leaves us standing alone— separated from one another. It causes us to lash out, then tells us to cover our sin, to deny it and defend it and spin it. And on the flip side, shame leads us to craft armor to protect our hearts from more disengagement and separation.
For this reason, the antidote to shame is not merely restoring a sense of self-confidence but also finding ways to be vulnerable with others who are empathetic and who can help us begin to sew up the tears between us and the people in our lives.
Lisa Harper also talks about the power of healing prayer, testifying poignantly about how she found strength to deal with shame through the ministry of gentle, discerning friends who helped connect her to the loving affirmation of God in deeper ways through this practice.
Because their shame was double,
and dishonor was proclaimed as their lot,
therefore they shall possess a double portion;
everlasting joy shall be theirs.
• Isaiah 61:7