“Righteousness is on your side, O Lord, but open shame, as at this day, falls on us.”
– Daniel 9:7
We don’t talk about shame much. Strike that, we don’t talk about our own shame that much. We laugh at the shame of others. (What is America’s Funniest Home Videos if not an exercise in laughing at the shame of others?) However, we rarely if ever acknowledge the shame within ourselves.
We have been taught from an early age to not show our shame. We are told to buck up, push back the tears, keep a stiff upper lip. We are reminded that winners persevere and do not dwell on failure. So much of our time is spent covering our shame from view, even shame that is not our responsibility. Families go overboard covering for an alcoholic or an abuser. “Everything’s fine here,” we say when everything is most definitely not fine.
And then there are the days when our shame is revealed for all the world to see. We are embarrassed as our carefully constructed scaffolds tumble and the real edifice of our imperfect lives is illuminated for all to see. Jesus said, “I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.” (John 12:46) The light is scary place in which to live. Just ask any presidential hopeful with opposition researchers scouring the country for anything that could bring scandal.
And yet the in the light our shame dissolves and our embarrassment retreats. The beautiful thing about the light of Christ is that in the light we recognize the amazing grace God has for us. The cross shows us the depths of God’s forgiveness and mercy and enables us to step out of the darkness and into the light. Indeed, “happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” (Psalm 32:1)
Lent is a time to take that step from darkness into light. It seems scary, but know that the shame we hide will be washed away in light of truth and grace.