Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Facing Shame

There are days in my life that still sting to think of.  I remember being the accompanist for my college choir, I was younger than anyone else there.  I had graduated early from high school, but I had a music scholarship which meant I had to do something in the music department. 

I was assigned a job I was not ready for, add to that I was assigned to a professor who was insensitive at best.  He had no patience with me. I couldn't understand what he wanted.  He didn't invest any time to explain.  In many ways we were a bad match but because I was a music major he was my adviser as well.

It came to a head no more than a week after I was assigned the job.  Right there, in front of all my musical peers, my professor berated my abilities, stripped me of any confidence and publicly ousted me from my position. As a musician I just couldn't measure up. Over nine years of private piano instruction, and I couldn't measure up.  I didn't think four years of his tutelage was going to help. From then on I was expected to sing for him with the rest of the witnesses of that day. Red faced and devastated I silently took it. I just stood there, wishing there was someone in the room who would speak in my defense.

Shame is a powerful tool of the enemy.  It is the terrible message that drives a wedge between ourselves and all others. It can become a huge wedge between ourselves and God.  The wedge is the belief that there is something wrong with us.  We are not wounded we are irreparably broken! That's how I felt that day.  That day has played over and over in my mind.  Oh, how I wish I had spoken up and said something... anything.  Like, "Do you really have to say all this in public?" Even saying, "Stop!" would have been nice. I wanted to tell him he was being mean and hurtful but it was impossible for me to process in the moment.  I think everyone was in shock.  I think they felt sorry for me in a way but they too were brutalized by his behavior.

What kept any one of them from speaking up?  I believe it was shame as well.  Shame that says, "Well, what would people think of me?" or ,"If I speak up he will yell at me next!" But not speaking up is what keeps the cycle going.  He needed someone to stand up to his cruelty so that he would think twice before repeating it.  If the whole room had roared out an objection, he would have been the one singled out.

I have found comfort in two things.  It has been awesome to know that Jesus bore more than my sins on the cross.  He took my shame as well.  He hung there buck naked.  Can you imagine? I think I can.  I'm not sure what the difference is when you are stripped emotionally or physically, you still stand naked before the one stripping you. But I don't have to bear that shame anymore I can lift it up to Jesus and let Him carry it for me.  I don't look to people to define me anymore.  Jesus created me because He wanted ME! If He had wanted someone else He would have created someone else. I have admired his artwork many times.  I love His seascapes best.  But this great artist didn't make His only mistake when He made me... I am in par with His other work. 

The second thing that gives me comfort is turning my talents back to Him.  I don't have to play for anyone else.   I can play my very best or my very worst and He is delighted.

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