by: Staci Stallings
Continuing the discussion about how our “God operating system” got hacked and then corrupted in the Garden (and how it continues to be in our daily lives)…
The first question I had about my computer when I realized it had been corrupted was, “Why me?” Why THIS computer? Why did the hacker choose mine?
Well, the truth is evil does not discriminate. Evil searches for a vulnerability and worms its way inside. So spending time on “Why” is not productive because ultimately the answer to “why” is “because you were human and vulnerable.”
I remember after the second suicide in our family, my nephew asked, “Why does bad stuff always happen to us?” To which my mom said, “It’s not just us. Bad stuff happens to everyone.”
We’re an “everyone,” so bad stuff is coming. We live in a fallen world. Bad stuff happens. And it happens to good people who are sincerely trying. So it’s not “just you.” You are not alone. God is not singling you out for punishment. It’s the Job story all over again. Job didn’t get targeted by God, he got tested by Satan. And so do we.
So if you think that being a Christian and knowing God and trusting God is somehow going to make you immune from bad things happening, it’s time to rethink that one. As Jesus Himself said, “In the world, you will have trials and tribulations, but rejoice for in Me you will have peace.” (paraphrase)
Get that? In the world, you’re going to have trouble. You’re in the world, so it’s time to learn to deal with the fact that trouble is coming if it isn’t already here.
However, in that question of “Why me?” we find the inherent “virus” that entered our operating system in the Garden. The virus called “shame.”
Shame says, “There is something wrong with me. I am defective. I am worthless. I am not good enough.”
Those are the messages of shame. And those are the messages that wormed their way into our God operating system!
Now, let’s take this virus apart for a moment and see what it can cause.
I mentioned previously how in my real life and virtual life other people were affected by my corrupted system. It’s the same with the virus of shame.
It begins in your heart when you get the error message that you are wrong, not just your behavior or something you’ve tried to do, but YOU are wrong. There is something wrong with you. You are somehow defective.
When we get that message, we don’t usually realize this is not something we can fix on our own (after all, duh, I’m the problem. If I just fix it myself, then life will get better… right?).
So we try to “fix” the shame virus ourselves!
Oh, lots of ways.
We look at our performance — our grades, our appearance, our social connections, our money, our job. We look at our environment — our house, our clothes, our car. We look at our behavior — trying to be perfect, to get others’ approval, to live up to God’s standards.
Some decide that nothing they do can fix it and they give up. They turn to drugs and alcohol. They drown their shame in pleasure and degradation. They gamble, turn to violence and power. They sleep around or party all the time. They maim and kill. Because in a twisted way, they think those things will “make them feel better.”
Why do they not “feel good” in the first place? Because shame has corrupted their system… and ours!
Shame is an interesting (and deadly) virus. It literally “twists” our thinking away from how we can have a relationship with God into thinking we don’t need Him, that He won’t love us anyway, that we don’t “deserve” Him. It takes our gaze off of God and puts it on ourselves.
And then we set out to “fix” this.
The Shame Virus often tells us that the “fix” is “over there” or “out there.” So we run to rainbow after rainbow. We think that the next job, the next girlfriend, the next move will finally make us feel better about ourselves. If we can find the right dress for the reunion or the right date for the prom… If we can just… or If only…
We try to drown the feeling of shame with food or watching television or busyness. We try to put on an image (that’s not real) so no one will figure out how damaged we really are inside. Some of us try to fix it through our kids behavior and activities and “perfectness.”
I’ve been listening to “Broken” by Lifehouse, and there is a line that says, “I am damaged at best, like you’ve already figured out.”
That line makes me so sad for the person singing because isn’t that how we all feel… that the world has figured out our “secret”–that we’re damaged, irredeemable, need-to-be-tossed-with-the-rest-of-the-trash trash? I know I’ve felt that way, and I’ve worked with a lot of others who have too.
The truly amazing thing to me is how this shame virus is driving… like nearly everything in our lives! (And most perniciously, in the lives of those around us as well.)
You see, it’s not just our operating system that’s been corrupted with shame, so has everyone else’s!
So we have corrupted system trying to work with corrupted system. And we expect things to work out perfectly.
Come back next time, and we’ll talk some more!