I stumbled upon this TED Talk by Monica Lewinsky called The Price of Shame. I was intrigued by this video because I haven’t heard Monica Lewinsky’s name since the 1998 events of the White House. The aftermath of the events led Monica to be silent for about a decade. I can’t imagine making a mistake and having to hide or restrict myself due to my own alienation. Monica had a couple quotes that describe the experience from her perspective.
“In 1998 I lost my reputation and my dignity I lost, almost everything and I almost lost my life”.
I thought this quote painted a great picture of the consequences of the events. It shows how personal and public shame can have a heavy impact to one’s life.
“Of course life is full of surprises not a day goes by that I am NOT reminded of my mistake and I regret that mistake deeply”.
The first part of this quote shows how certain mistakes can be permanent and difficult to move on from. Also it shows how Monica acknowledges and regrets her mistakes. When I watched this video, then I really started thinking about the power of shame.
The definition of shame is a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. Everybody is prone to feel or experience shame at some point in his or her life. Everybody is imperfect, so we are bound to make mistakes. Sometimes people are embarrassed or regretful of their mistakes. I believe people experience and struggle through two types of shame, which are internal and external shame.
Internal shame comes from our own guilt and regret from our wrongful behavior based on our thoughts and beliefs. External shame happens when our mistakes become public and others view us negatively. Both types of shame have a huge impact on the ways we choose to live our life.
I believe that shame can be one of the toughest feelings to handle because it is based on our worst moments. Nobody likes to feel humiliated, criticized, hurt, regretful, sorrowful, and alienated. It can be really hard to move on from our shame whether it is internal or external.
Sometimes I wonder why does shame exist? There had to be a point where human beings didn’t feel shame. The Book of Genesis traces the first shameful moments in human history. Adam and Eve were given orders by God not to eat from the Garden of Eden. They disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit.
Genesis 3:8 “They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden”.
This verse highlights a moment in human history where human beings felt shame from God due to their decisions and actions. Adam and Eve tried to hide from God because they did something wrong. Ever since Adam and Eve made that decision all of humanity was born into shame.
Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned”.
From that moment, humans could never be perfect and let alone approach a righteous God. It is understandable that humans are bound to feel shame due to our human nature alone.
I could not imagine a person who knew more about shame than Monica Lewinsky. She was an ideal spokesperson to give a TED Talk on shame. When she started talking about other’s experiencing and living with shame. I thought of another person who experienced shame on this Earth, which was God’s son Jesus Christ.
Jesus should not have experienced any shame on this earth because every aspect of His humanity was perfect. According to our definition of shame, Christ could not experience internal shame due to any wrongful thoughts or behavior. However near the end of his humanity, Jesus went through a very public humiliation and beating in front of the World.
1 Peter 2:24 says that “and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”
Jesus had no reason to experience any shame or criticism on this earth. Nobody could find any blame in Him.
I respect Monica Lewinsky for coming back to the public and advocating against cyber bullying. I cannot imagine what she went through this past decade. She made a brave step to acknowledge and move on from her past. It is hard to continually live in shame.
The good news is that Jesus bore that shame for us. He willingly died on the cross for us, so that we would have a way to overcome this curse. God loved us and provided us with an opportunity to accept Him in our hearts.
Romans 8:1 states that “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”.
It is not fair that Jesus had to endure that shame, however through his sacrifice and humility we can live free from shame. I don’t want to indicate that overcoming shame is easy. I believe that living and working through shame is difficult.
When we have a personal relationship with Jesus, then we are able to access unlimited resources to battle our shame everyday.