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Sometimes I differ a bit from some Christians in my ideas around shame, but I genuinely believe it is a nearly useless emotion that pretty much just leads to destruction. I mean, just repent, early and often, problem solved. Set it down at the cross, it’s not yours to carry.

I think I’ve got some Biblical precedent to go on here too, because Jesus goes to the cross “despising the shame” on our behalf as it says in Hebrews 12:2. So what He has put to death we should not be trying to pick up and carry around.

I genuinely believe shame is from the enemy and designed to keep us from God. Either you carry your shame around or you let Jesus carry it for you. There isn’t really an in between place one can go. Like, you can’t help Him carry it for you. You can’t hang onto a little bit of it to demonstrate some kind of virtue. And if you are hauling it around and not even aware of it, well, that’s the worst kind of shame of all.

If shame actually worked, I might be all for it! People try to throw it at one another as a way to manipulate and control behavior. That might temporarily work on the smallest and weakest among us, but for the vast majority, shame just becomes yet another corrosive force in their life.

Nearly everyone who starts to feel bad or lousy about their weight, runs home to indulge in a bunch of carbs and comfort food. Many people tend to just drink even more to try to wash away the shame. Our response to other people’s shaming is rarely, almost never, going to be, Oh, So I should just change my behavior and mend my ways?

Also, 90% of the time other people are just full of coconut candy and totally unworthy to shame you in the first place. You don’t have to hand anyone that power! They don’t walk in your shoes, and I assume you have the same access to the Holy Spirit that they do?

We have an addict on our street who for years now won’t pull up his pants. Yep, he’s letting it all hang out for the whole world to see. Not the gang banger droopy drawers some falsely believe is somehow stylish, but I mean this guy drops his pants so far he has tripped and landed on his face a few times. Everyone yells at him constantly, especially the men on this street who seem to believe they can just shame him into mending his ways.

It simply doesn’t work that way. His brain is too pickled to sense our disapproval, and his heart is anesthetized with whatever substances he is on that day. How do I know I am right and that shaming doesn’t work? Well, we are going on 12 years now, 12 years of having an addict consistently mooning us. Also, he has tried to die a few times, which is also stressful on the whole neighborhood. It really wears on you watching people slowly self destruct and being almost powerless to do anything about it.

It’s incredibly selfish of him. Seriously. I realize that people are sometimes consumed by their own afflictions and simply can’t see anything beyond their own misery, but that doesn’t change the selfishness of it all. In fact, being completely unaware of anyone’s misery but your own, is probably the very definition of “selfish.” I watched this guy grow up. It might be a superficial relationship, but his self destruction still impacts me and it’s something I have no say in.

I say I’m “almost powerless” because I can still pray, which I do and that really is powerful. I am absolutely certain he is is going to meet the Lord one way or another. In the end, everybody talks to God. I would just prefer to see him wake up, come alive, reap some of the goodness of life while he still can and not just harvest its destruction. Ultimately however, it’s not up to me.

In some ways I really appreciate the lessons I’ve gotten from the mooner. He has no guile, no pretense, no shallow, social niceties going on. He is not the least bit concerned about “cancel culture” or someone “making him look bad.” His flaws, his rear end, his sins, are just hanging out there for all to see.

I would prefer that people cover themselves in a bit of white raiment and keep their skeletons tucked neatly in the closet, but I think the church at large has something important to learn from those outside the bounds of polite society who live their lives without layers of social insulation hiding who they really are and what they struggle with.

I really like the saying, “she who has the Most High, needs no other high.” Why would we need a Most High in the first place? Mostly because when you take away our social insulation, our masks and our coping skills, we all look a bit like my neighborhood’s mooner.