Shame is a crippling thing, whether it comes in the small-s or capital-s form. Throughout this book, Ed Welch reminds us that Jesus not only came to remove our shame but literally carried it to the cross for us—then reminds us that in our newfound freedom, we too are called to carry His shame, and proudly.
Edward T. Welch: Shame Interrupted: How God Lifts the Pain of Worthlessness & Rejection. 352p., $17.99, New Growth Press.
What’s worse is that shame is a self-perpetuating cycle—and even if we don’t want to perpetuate it, there are people in our lives who want to see it perpetuated. “[T]he ones who humiliate have power over the humiliated,” Welch says. “It becomes a form of social control because shamed people rarely take stands against injustice. Such a stand would mean they would have to go public, which would only double the shame. Instead, once we are shamed, most of try to make sense of it by believing we are getting what we deserve. So why would we protest?”
Over and over, Welch points to the only true liberation—the cross. “The reality is that unclean people can’t wash anything. Only the Holy One can make us holy. That leaves us with one alternative, and it is the hardest thing for an unclean person to do. Just state the obvious: ‘I am unclean and I live with people who are unclean.'”
Thus, the book reaches its high point in the next-to-last of its four sections, “Shame, Honor, and Jesus,” and especially in the chapter simply called “The Cross.” The gist being: Not only did Jesus take up our shame, but as we become more and more His, we are in turn called to take up His shame. “This doesn’t mean your shame disappears, but it makes a difference when your shame is number two on your list instead of number one. It makes a huge difference,” Welch says (my emphasis). “When Jesus and his shame occupy our attention, our own shame becomes less controlling.”
And thus, the final section “Honor, after Jesus” focuses on how to walk out this new life, how to boast in our weakness and in the God who carries us past it, and how this burden of shame has equipped us to serve others.
There are questions and activities for reflection and discussion at the end of each of the book’s 29 chapters. My favorite (or at least most self-pertinent) on comes at the end of the second chapter: “Women can usually identify shame in their lives without much effort. Men tend to feel it but not idenitify it. If you are a man, see if you can locate that shamed little boy.”
If shame is an area you’ve struggled with, either consciously or unconsciously, Shame Interrupted will not only walk alongside you but show you a better way to walk.