Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Gratitude Journal - Day 7
Today I am grateful for the wisdom of others.
Yesterday our Pastoral Care with Addictions class went on a field trip to a local hospital to talk to the pastoral care team that works in the addictions unit. They had much to share with us about the challenges and joys of caring for the spirits of those trapped under the weight of addictions, and we had much to learn, but there was one kernel of wisdom in particular that stuck out for me.
One of the chaplains noted that it's important to recognize that guilt and shame have two different functions. And most people with addictions carry a boatload of both.
She described it this way:
Guilt is like having the gentle yet firm hand of a friend on your back. Guilt tells you, "Things can be different, you need to make a change, it's going to be painful but don't worry, I'll be here for you."
Shame is like having two hands on your shoulders, pushing you down into the ground. Shame tells you, "You're not worthy of redemption, you're never going to feel whole, you may as well just give up."
She then added:
"As a pastor, ask yourself, which set of hands are you?"
This is a question that we all need to ask.
We're all pastors in life, to each other and to ourselves.
Our actions may cause us to feel guilt, but it's often that feeling of guilt that spurs us to make restitution...to try and right the wrong that we have done...to take a step towards wholeness.
Shame on the other hand only serves to hold us in place....immobilized and fearful....with our backs turned away from what is healthy and whole.
Every day we have the chance to minister to each other, and to minister to ourselves, because we all carry the brokenness of something we've done, said, or feel.
And as we wrestle with our own brokenness, and encounter the brokenness of others, we should remember to ask ourselves:
Which set of hands are you?