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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Never Compound Shame

by Eliana:

The Gospel Doctrine lesson this past week was about burdens, or at least that is what I took away from my preparations to teach it. We have very few verses to read and I focused on those near the end of Luke 7.

A woman, sinful, is serving Jesus. Since most sins aren’t known to others, she’s got to be well known for her sins, yet she doesn’t hide away in shame. Like most of us do, right? If I know I’ve blown it, praying is difficult for a while. But this woman, she just wants to be close to Jesus and show him her love and respect. I love that.

In the Book of Mormon my favorite part has always been when the Lamanites are captive and receive a rather unusual blessing—not freedom, like I would want, or the bad guys to fall over dead. Instead they are blessed to not feel the burdens on their backs. Combined with great Nephi paintings of my childhood, imagine the muscle mass on these guys!

My key word, in both cases, is burden.

The Mormon Women Project has lesson helps (which I wish I had known about before this week) and something I read there has stuck in my mind, talking about different burdens:
It’s important that we never compound others’ shame.
We do that sometimes. We make burdens worse. We do it to ourselves when we feel shame for things over which we have minimal control; shame isn’t a productive emotion though.

When I feel ashamed, I want to hide. I am not open to learning or feeling or any sort of goodness. If my burden is a sin of which I need to repent, other people making me feel worse most certainly does nothing to help me move along that path.

MWP gives a list of some of the shaming burdens, though I’m sure we can think of more:
There are so many shame-bearing burdens that risk our reputations (maybe even particularly at church): divorce, misbehaving children, a misbehaving spouse, single-ness, weight gain, a messy home, struggles of faith, struggles with personal vices, etc, etc. That rotten list could go on forever.
I guess I’m just thinking about making life easier for the people around me, not worse. Sometimes we don’t know how but I think not shaming them is a big part of it. You know, like Christians.

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Eliana Osborn was raised on cold weather and wild animals in Anchorage, Alaska, setting the stage for her adult life in the Sunniest Place on Earth in Arizona. She grew up in the church and didn't know there were places where conformity was preached. She has degrees. She writes. She teaches. She has some kids. She even has a husband. She's trying to do her best. Twitter: Eliana0Eliana. Website:
 photo Line-625_zpse3e49f32.gifImage credit: kulucphr (used with permission).

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