I have to go on stage and play a Beethoven Piano Concerto with Orchestra. There are at least 1,000 people in the audience. I haven’t played the piano in 30 years. I will fail.
I have 10-minutes to save myself.
I stumble towards another musician backstage, a woman who unlike me actually PLAYS THE FREAKING PIANO. I ask her to fill in. She covers her ears, shakes her head and backs away laughing.
Pacing and wringing my hands, I realize the only thing to do is find the conductor. I have to tell her I can’t perform. But she’s counting on me. Disappointing her feels as shameful as public humiliation…. What will I do?
It started when I approached them to apologize for my writing. “Um… did you ever make an innocent comment that came out all sexual innuendo-y?” I said. “This piece is about that…and shame…and I’m afraid someone from the church might see.”
Hugh replied, “Do you believe God is all there is? Or do you believe God is not all there is?”
Brock said, “Do you want a church where people welcome everything? Or do you want a church where people do not welcome everything?”
The questions were rhetorical.
Of course I believe God is all there is. Of course I want a church where people believe life is an embarrassment of riches, a church where we welcome the riches of embarrassment.
So here I am. I offer this off-beat examination of moving from shame-rags to riches.
In so doing, I say, peace be with you. And so it is. And here it is….
The mystical poet Hafiz wrote “Our separation from God – from Love –
Chama al-Din Muhammad Hafiz, author unknown
is the hardest work in this world.” I think Hafiz was onto something.
Mystical teachings tell us we can never truly be separate from the Absolute Reality of Love because the Absolute contains everything. Yet we create obstacles to Love. The most persistent obstacle I’ve observed is a sense of unworthiness. I have counseled numerous people who tell me they feel like “damaged goods,” and therefore believe they are unworthy of Love.
Another word for unworthiness is shame. Brene´ Brown, PhD states in a viral TED Talk, that shame thrives on three things: secrecy, silence, and judgment. We hide what we do not like about ourselves in the hopes that no one will see – or maybe it will just go away.
Dr. Brown also states that the one thing shame cannot tolerate is empathy. So in the spirit of dissolving secrecy and invoking empathy, I’ll share a story from my ministry that makes me look bad. I’m embarrassed to tell it – but here goes. Continue reading →