The Weekly Breather: Responding to Shame

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Greetings from the Soul Care Collective Steering Committee!

This weekly post includes a brief word about personal soul care from one of our amazing Soul Care Collective authors and will include an exercise for you to use at home to deepen your connection with God and nourish your soul. Consider this your invitation to stop, breathe, and take a moment to meet with God at the end of a busy week. We hope you enjoy it.

Today’s Weekly Breather comes from Laura Beach, director of Equipping Lydia. The following exercise is an excerpt from the ebook sampler of her book, Rhythms of Restoration: Practicing Grief on the Path of Grace. The sampler can be downloaded at the Seedbed Store for free.

Pain and Shame: Responding to Shame

Mary faced a humiliating experience. She was pregnant and Joseph, her fiancé, was not the father of the baby. Like many other women of the Bible (Tamar, Ruth, and Rahab, to name a few), Mary was in a situation that was socially humiliating. The world told her that she should be ashamed because of the life that was inside of her.

Shame always says that there is something wrong with what is inside of us. Shame says that at our core, we are to be condemned. But that was not true of Mary, was it? And Mary knew it was not true. It was not true of Tamar, Ruth, or Rahab either. The very thing that the world around them said was shameful, God used for something very sacred. It was through these vulnerable and humiliated women that the Messiah was born.

Is there something that has embarrassed you? Have you felt shame? This is the sacred place where the Messiah is waiting to be born.

Settle: Cease and Release

Shame can feel like a smothering blanket. Its suffocating presence can drown out the voice of love. Help may be needed for the preparation of entering into this tender time of exploring shame in the light of God’s love.

Listen: Rest in the Word

Consider the words of Mary’s song from the first chapter of Luke. Try not to rush ahead. Read aloud several times, pausing between each reading.

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” (Luke 1:46–55)

Optional

Reading 1: Simply let the words flow through you, ministering to your body, mind, and spirit.
Reading 2: Which words draw your attention? Focus on those words for a few moments. Let their meaning minister to the place where you are most embarrassed.
Reading 3: What is God lifting within you? Can you rest while God is doing the heavy lifting?

Reflect: Feast on the Word

Spend some time reflecting on this passage. Let these words feed you at the places where you are most hungry. What is God revealing to you for your journey today?
How would you finish this thought? God, You are revealing to me…

Pray

Welcome the Holy Spirit to lead you. Holy Spirit, I welcome Your…
Can you welcome the love of God to surround you?
Can you receive the unconditional love of the One who created you?
How would you complete the following prayer?
God, as Your love surrounds me, I am…
The voice of shame has said that I am…
But God, that is not Your voice. You say that I am…
May new life be born in the secret sacred places of my heart.
Oh God, I praise You for…
Amen.

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As Director and Founder of Equipping Lydia, Laura Beach guides individuals and groups through the process of spiritual formation. She journeys with others as they explore their understanding of God’s love, healing and restoration.

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