What is the oldest game known to man? Some would suggest “Hide and Seek”, since Adam and Eve hid from God and covered themselves in fig leaves. My wife playfully suggested “the Game of Life” or “Sorry”. For years I called it “The Blame Game.”
Once Adam and Eve sin, Adam blames Eve, and then tries to blame God since God gave him Eve. Eve in turn blames the Serpent who deceived her. Satan has no one to blame. He hasn’t got a leg to stand on.
This a a great punchline. But as the years have passed by I’ve understood that Adam and Eve were the first to play “The Shame Game”.
In this game all of the participants are made to feel shame for their actions.
We’ve all participated in this game. Sometimes as the author of shame or the center of it’s focus.
We can easily move from “I did something bad” (healthy guilt) to “I am bad” (shame).
We can make shame our identity because of what we have done, or what’s been done to us.
Some of us were raised with shame as a motivating factor. We were constantly compared to a standard of perfection or placed in a competition with a sibling.
Some of us were physically, emotionally or mentally betrayed and hurt by a loved one or someone in a position of trust.
Unless that hurt is addressed it can become the basis of our identity. We can grow up with a sense that we are damaged goods and feelings of unworthiness.
We can build walls of protection around ourselves. We can withdraw from close relationships with others and God due to trust issues.
Shame and a sense of identity can be complex issues.
Identifying when we have used shame to motivate others, or when we are motivated to act because of our internal shame indicators is a great first step.
Finding a new identity in a grace filled relationship is a powerful antidote.
We’ve all seen someone who was publicly shamed for something they did or was done to them.
But sometimes that person’s public perception is redeemed by their association to someone we hold in high honor. They are no longer the person in shame but the person who is highly esteemed.
For me the issue of shame is best addressed by constantly reminding myself that all of us are God’s creation.
God considers all of us worthy of his love because of who He is, not because of what we have or have not done.