Today I was reading and came across this idea of shame being like a swamp. I have been contemplating the whole Adam and Eve story for years, and very intensely the last year or so. I can not seem to shake the idea that we are still dealing with the effects of that fatal day. Misty Edwards is an amazing prophetic psalmist. In one of her songs the line is, “If Grace is an ocean then we’re all drowning.” I truly believe this statement, I also recall Stevie Nicks had a line in a song that said, “Drowning in the sea of love, where everyone would love to drown.”
Well if grace is like the ocean, and love like a sea; then shame has to be like a swamp of the soul! Lets take a look at the swampland first shall we.
A swamp is a wetland with some flooding of large areas of land by shallow bodies of water. A swamp generally has a large number of hammocks, or dry-land protrusions, covered by aquatic vegetation, or vegetation that tolerates periodical inundation. A common feature of swamps is water stagnation.
Swamps are characterized by very slow-moving waters. They are usually associated with adjacent rivers or lakes. In some cases, rivers become swamps for a distance. Swamps are features of areas with very low topographic relief.
Swamps were historically often drained to provide additional land for agriculture, and to reduce the threat of diseases borne by swamp insects and similar animals. Swamps were generally seen as useless and even dangerous. This practice of swamp draining is nowadays seen as a destruction of a very valuable ecological habitat type of which large tracts have already disappeared in many countries. However, the generally messy nature of swamps, with their diffuse boundaries and lack of enclosure, prevents humans from being able to collect and capitalize on their precious natural resources. Generally swamps are assessed as having low land value even while they are being protected from damage. [Wikipedia]
Shame is definitely like a stagnation to our souls, the life and flow of it. It is also uninhabitable for the most part by humans. So it’s definitely not a good place to live! We know there are many insects, and predators that lark in the hidden terrain. Most of I see metamorphically speaking, a very low-lying place. To our souls with shame is exactly all of these things. It is a terrible and dangerous environment for the soul.
Dr. Rene Brown says in her book, “The Gifts of Imperfections: Let go of who you thing you’re supposed to be and embrace who are”, That Shame is the ‘fear of disconnection and belonging due to my own feeling of unworthiness.’ In other words we are all hard-wired for connection and belonging, but somehow we get to a place to where our own feelings of unworthiness for whatever reason creates a disconnected mindset. We somehow feel that if you knew the internal struggles I have with in me, and my own knowledge of unworthiness you would reject me. This creates the shame.
She also rights in her book about Shame.
1. We all have it…..
2. We are all afraid to talk about it…..
3. The less we talk about it, the more power it has over our lives…..
Dr. Brown is a researcher / storyteller by profession. Over 10 years of shame, vulnerability, and fear research was done by her. I find the information very insightful into the human soul and mindset. I can easily see how this is such a huge issue in all of our lives. I believe with all of my heart that the Facebook and MySpace phenomenon is marker for what is going on in people’s lives and minds. Aside from the obvious narcissistic tendencies, and the voyeuristic curiosity of us all; The message that I hear from Facebook over all to me is the basic needs of humans at its finest.
1. The need to be Fully Loved
2. The need to be Fully Known (heard, seen, perceived)
3. The need to Belong
Of course Facebook has become a wonderful in communicating, promoting, and even was paramount in the Egyptian Revolution! This tool can also be a very dangerous tool in the hands of those that carry shame in the dark crevasses of their being. I poke fun sometimes when I say, Facebook can be a tool for creeping, snooping, and stalking. As a matter of fact the California legal community has said through its findings that 1 in every 5 divorces are because of Facebook’s ability to communicate. Facebook has become a very great tool for lawyers.
To navigate these swampy areas in our minds and souls, we are going to have to build deep trusting relationships with others who can listen without a judgmental spirit. If we can find these people the grip of shame will begin to erode and dry up as it were. And much like farmers we can drain the swampy waters of shame and despair, and once again plant productive fields of love and acceptance.
My Good friend Toby once told me the difference between shame and guilt.
Guilt: I DID something bad
Shame: I AM something bad
I will never forget this as long as I live. I realize guilt is a blessing from God to help nudge you to reconcile the offenses you may have occurred along the path of life so that you can live free and with an open heart. If we ignore the nudging then the inevitable consequence is shame. You will begin to identify a part of you AS the bad thing, instead of a slip up, it becomes your identity.
God help us to identify with the greatness within each and every one of us! As I watch the Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan unfold, I am so amazed at the spirit of the people. There hasn’t been one single report of looting and violence, and they wait for over 3 hours to get water and some don’t even get it. Let us not even discuss what would happen in America if anything remotely like that happened? Just think New Orleans, and Katrina, or the fires in the riot in Downtown L.A.
Consider and pray about finding a trusted friend that sticks closer than and brother to navigate and dry up your Swampland of the Soul. This is your year to get it done! One thing I am 100% sure of…..
It will NEVER get fixed by ignoring it! That is what your carnal mind is trying to convince you of!