We must remember that shame is passed down through the ages from perpetrator to victim. If it has been passed down through the ages, then it must have a starting point. Where that starting point is and who started the cycle of shame rolling is anyone’s guess. Or is it? Everything has a start point. I believe shame started back before we ever existed. Before I continue, I want to say that I have no empirical evidence, only a theory that came to me during a meditation where I was searching for deeper answers. Therefore, what I am about to write is only a theory and remembering that everything has a starting point, including shame, this theory makes perfect sense to me.
I believe that shame first reared its ugly head when Lucifer was cast out of heaven. Imagine if you were Lucifer, the most perfect, beautiful, and powerful angel God has ever created. On top of that you’re the worship leader over Gods choir. However, you have a hard time remaining humble. You become prideful and arrogant. You even start believing you are better than God, which ultimately leads you to your demise. Eventually because of your pride and arrogance that originated from your desire to be God instead of a servant of God, you are cast out of heaven on to the earth to rule the darkness. You were the highest of all the angels, but you weren’t happy being the worship leader of Gods choir. Instead you desired to be God and rule the universe. Therefore, God shunned you and cast you out of heaven as a fallen angel. This is the story of how Lucifer became Satan.
Think for a moment about a time something similar might have happened to you. It might have been when you were an adult, teenager, or child. Remember that feeling of shame that overwhelmed you, we’ve all been there. Now for a moment put yourself in Lucifer’s place. Suddenly you are rejected by God and cast out of heaven onto the earth. You went from being all that, a bag of chips, and kit kat bar, to being the lowest form on earth, a serpent. Imagine the shame he likely felt. They sat “hurt people, hurt people” and shame is one of the most painful kinds of emotional hurt a person can have. Therefore, as humans it’s are tendency to make others feel as we do. Thus, we tend to cast the shame that is on us onto others. Now let’s visit the Garden of Eden now.
When God created man and woman in the Garden of Eden, they were both naked and felt no shame (Genesis 2:25). As God showed them around the Garden of Eden, He told them they could eat out of any tree in the garden except the tree in the center of the garden – The Tree Knowledge and Good and Evil (TKGE). Then enters the serpent or Satan…Adam and Eve are enjoying a stroll through the Garden of Eden when they come to the TKGE. The serpent appears and ask Eve if God really did say you must not eat the fruit from the tree in the center of the garden. Yes, God said, “You must not eat or even touch it; if you do, you will die.” Satan then convinced her that her eyes would be opened as soon as she ate it, and she would be like God, knowing both good and evil. Being convinced and wanting the wisdom it would give her, she took the fruit and ate it. Satan feeling shame from being cast out of heaven had now passed his shame down to the first woman on earth. The woman God had entrusted with a lush garden full everything she needed to sustain life. All she had to do was not eat out of the one tree. Satan knew if she ate from this tree two things would likely happen. First, she would be faced with consequences as he had when he defied God, passing his shame on to her. Secondly, Eve would then pass the fruit onto Adam, thus passing the shame on to him.
Speaking of Adam, where was he while this was happening? According to Genesis 3:6 he was right there with her; ….Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. As husbands, are we supposed to be the spiritual heads of our house and family, correct? Then why did Adam allow Eve to partake in the forbidden fruit while he was standing there with her. Both of them were with God when He told them not to eat from the TKGE? Immediately after eating the fruit their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. Later in the evening God was walking in the garden. Adam and Eve hid from Him among the trees because they were naked. Shame had forced them to hide from God. When God asked them if they had eaten the forbidden fruit, immediately Adam blamed what had happened on Eve, who in turn said the serpent had deceived her.
Like Satan being cast out of heaven for defying God, Eve was told “her pain will be sharpened by your pregnancy and in pain you will give birth. And you will desire to control your husband, but he rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16). Likewise, he told the man, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. (Genesis 3:17-18).
I’m hoping if nothing else that you can see how shame is handed down from generation to generation. In my opinion, with Satan being the author of all confusion chaos and everything evil in this world, it’s pretty easy to see where shame originated from and how it gets passed down through generations, generally from people that have power over another person. Those people may include teacher’s, pastors, lawmakers, parents and siblings just to mention a few. Look how it started. Satan defied God, the ultimate supreme being. God in turn used his power to cast Satan out of heaven to earth (rightly so), creating shame in Satan. Satan in turn used his power over a woman to deceive her into partaking of the forbidden fruit, which created shame in her. Eve in turn used her seductive power to deceive Adam into the partaking of the forbidden fruit, which created shame in him. Do you see how the cycle naturally flows from generation to generation? From person to person?
Abuse of any kind, emotional, physical, spiritual, and sexual, are the biggest producer of shame in a person’s life. A father or mother may intentionally or unintentionally use shame as way of provoking their children to do things. The words they often choose, such as; “You’ll never amount to anything,” “Can’t you do anything right,” “How come you can’t be as smart or athletic as your brother/sister,” are all very shaming statements. Punishing your children for just being kids is another shaming act. I’m not saying they don’t need discipline, that’s a subject for another time.
Some pastors will use shaming words or accusations as way of convincing others to believe in God the way they do. Pastors, such as the pastor I had in my youth can inflict tremendous amounts of pain and shame on victims. When he was told by my stepfather what was happening between myself and him, his words of wisdom to me were, and I quote, “Randy it is just part of growing up and you won’t be gay.” I remember to this day the wave of shame that overtook me in that minute. I’ve felt that same shame from a few of my teachers and coaches in an attempt to get me to perform better. They called me out in front of the class or team, often times making belittling remarks to me in front of the whole class, Unbeknownst to them, they are casting more shame on top of the shame I was already carrying.
So, why do people do this? Simply because it was done to them, learned behavior. Does it make it right? Absolutely not. However, when I was taught about this concept by my therapist and confirmed by many of my mentors, it was easier to work towards forgiving those that deeply hurt and scarred me. I would ask you to go back to a time when a parent, teacher, pastor or coach was verbally belittling you. Take the time to sit with the little you that was being abused in that moment. How did they make you feel? Be honest with yourself. Now, is that how you truly want your children, students, congregation, spouse or athletes to feel? You can choose to break the cycle of abuse today. Only you have the power to stop the cycle in your family lineage. I’ll end with this.
Pain travels through family
Lines until someone is ready
To heal it in themselves.
By going through the agony
Of healing you no longer
Pass the poison chalice
onto the generations that
follow. It is incredibly
important and sacred work.