The Shame Game

“That there is why I don’t ever want to have my own kids.”

That statement came from a onlooking cell phone kiosk operator at the mall on Friday, as my husband carried our screaming almost four year old out, with our baby on his other arm in the car seat.

Hearing that comment made me fume a little more. That guy had no idea why Caleb had melted down that bad.

We had just been in a little store where I had told Caleb that we weren’t going to buy what he wanted to buy. The cashier proceeded to pull out a container of suckers.

His eyes got wide and reached out to take the whole container (holding probably fifty candies).

Laughter broke out from all four people working behind the counter.

“Oh no, just take one!” The lady laughed.

Then I saw it sweep across his face.

Shame.

Embarrassment.

Total humiliation.

He fell to my feet and curled up in a tiny ball and started to cry. I knew this was not going to end well.

I tried to get out of the store quietly, containing the meltdown but things started escalating fast.

He could not deal with this emotion. The shame, embarrassment and humiliation was over taking his whole body.

He genuinely thought that he had been offered all those suckers.

Then he exploded. It was just a race to get out of the mall, passed the condescending phone kiosks and to the van without us melting down from embarrassment too.

Until things spiralled to complete hysteria, I really felt bad for my son.

I know that feeling of shame and embarrassment. It can be almost crippling. To do or say the wrong thing can be paralyzing.

In high school I experienced it so much, feeling like I never knew exactly what to say or how to respond to certain comments. Sometimes I was so embarrassed.

My confidence grew significantly the more I learned what God’s heart was toward me. That he wasn’t mad at me. That he wasn’t disappointed with me.

The more I was concerned about my relationship with the Lord, the less I felt embarrassment in situations where I felt like I didn’t know how to respond properly.

Psalm 34:5 says

Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
    no shadow of shame will darken their faces.

During this developmental stage of experiencing these confusing emotions, I hope I can help my son turn to the Lord for his identity and not be crippled by embarrassment when he messes up.

Don’t let guilt and shame hold you back from making the changes in your life that you need to. The Lord promises us that as we turn to him for help, we can trade our downcast faces of shame for hearts full of bright and radiant joy. 10407478_10154967846915431_1188958141941374220_n

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One thought on “The Shame Game

  1. I love this. I, too was almost crippled with anxiety and fear of doing or saying the wrong thing. I did grow out of it as I became more confident in my own skin. It’s so hard to be learning all these new things in the world around you. I know you will help your boy with these feelings and help him learn how to deal with them. I do hate that our society in general is one that too quickly shames people for being people. Especially children. They’re learning – there will be good times and bad times. Thank you for bringing some joy and perspective to me today 🙂

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