Is God in your Shame Web or Connection Network?
Updated: Aug 29, 2019
Is God in Your Shame Web or Your Connection Network? This might seem like a funny question, but if you don't know what it means or if you aren't sure of the answer, this will be well worth the read. This simple question is of the utmost importance. It's a game changer.
We've spent the last four blogs learning and practicing the four elements of Shame Resilience. If you haven't read those, go back and check them out. They were on:
These posts lay an important foundation based on Brené Brown's research around shame and the path toward Shame Resilience (the ability to recognize shame when it's happening to us and to move through it).
We're continuing to build on that foundation, but shifting gears just a bit. The third element in Shame Resilience is knowing and accessing our Connection Network (CN). Our CN is made up of those people who meet our vulnerability with empathy. These people help free us from shame. They lighten our load and offer a healing connection as they let us know that we are not alone in our shame. Not only have they been there, but they're here with us now.
The opposite of our Connection Network is our Shame Web (SW). Our SW is made up of the influences (indirect socio-cultural, direct personal, and our own inner critic) that tell us that we have to work (aka "hustle" as Brené Brown so aptly calls it) for our value and our place of belonging. Our SW constantly sends us the message that if we fail to meet even a single expectation, we're not enough... unfit for relationship...unworthy of love. There is no rest or peace when we have to earn our place. So, is God in your Shame Web or your Connection Network? Well, what does He have to say about it?
What does God say? Does He want to be in your Shame Web or in your Connection Network?
Does God want us to feel free to bring Him whatever shame we're feeling so that He can empathize with us and free us from that shame and the expectations He never placed on us? Does God want to be in your Connection Network?
Or does God want us to feel shame? Is that His consequence for us when we fail to meet expectations? Does He threaten to separate Himself from us, temporarily or permanently, when we feel unworthy? Does God want to be in your Shame Web?
It'd be foolish to think this isn't a touchy subject. Some theologians teach that God shames us and distances Himself from us for various reasons. While some teach His undying love and inseparable attachment. I personally believe the latter. After doing my research and getting to know God more, I believe God wants nothing but closeness with us. His loving correction, when necessary, happens as we draw closer to Him, not farther away hidden in shame.
If this is something you are not sure about or haven't yet researched and formed your own opinion on, I strongly encourage you to do so. Very few things are truly black and white, nevertheless there may very well be a right answer here. However, that's not exactly what we're focusing on here today. The question is whether God is in your Shame Web or your Connection Network. This is about how you relate to God. How you react to Him. How you view Him and whether the idea of His very presence and His attention towards you floods you with shame or showers you with freedom.
Here's a quick, but important, note. God can be in our Shame Web, no matter how intimately close or distantly indifferent we are about Him. We may see Him as that indirect far-off influence lurking somewhere behind the scenes or He could feel like our most important influence and the seemingly biggest source of Shame in our life. The one that we are the most ashamed will see us and disapprove of us. So be careful not to assume that just because He doesn't feel near, that we aren't affected by our perception of His expectations and attitude toward us. Even our subconscious perspective affects us and how we relate to God.
How would you know if God was in your Shame Web or your Connection Network?
Here is a simple checklist to help you see more clearly how you relate to God.
God in our Shame Web looks like...
A mean dad always ready with a big stick
A fickle God that is slow to speak and quick to get mad at us
The one we have to make all the excuses to
The one who knows we are never good enough but demands that we keep trying
The insecure parent who only allows us to feel certain limited emotions (if any at all)
The cruel teacher who is frustrated that we aren't learning the life lesson fast enough
The one we hate to think of knowing everything we think and do
The one we can only be around when we feel good about ourselves
God in our Connection Network looks like...
A kind dad always ready with a big hug
An attentive dad who always cares how we feel
A cheerful God who really knows what it's like to be human
The one that waits with us patiently as we keep trying but still feel like we're never enough
The one who keeps telling us that we don't have to try to be good enough
The secure parent who loves that we hang out with them however we're feeling
The one who is quick to empathize and feel what we feel
The gentle one that invites us to share our vulnerability and shame
The only one with the right to condemn any of us and the one who never turns any of us away when we come to Him
So what is it for you? Connection Network or Shame Web?
Next time we're going to look more closely at why it is that God is in either our Shame Web or our Connection Network.