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THE POWER OF SHAME

I remember how troubled I was after attending the funeral of an old lady who used to be my visitation partner for many years in a two-person team at a former church. Her brother and sister-in-law were deacons at the church. When I heard she had cancer some years after I left, I visited her at the nursing home, talking about old times and her grandkids, her favorite topic. Her physical condition was not what it was previously, but her energy level was still fantastic.

The family was surprised at my attendance at the funeral, and asked me to say the closing prayer, which brought tears to my eyes. After the funeral was over and well-wishes were said, the deceased’s daughter-in-law came up to me and told me her mother-in-law had actually saw me on another occasion in a restaurant when her condition was deteriorating, but she avoided meeting me and did not want me to see her in her worsening health and appearance at that time. What saddened me was that she was fine with entering a restaurant full of strangers but not entertaining an old friend.

That’s the power of shame. It deflates, chokes and kills one’s sense of self, relationships with others and, possibly, perception of God.

(From a sermon by Victor Yap, "Face up to Life and Death" 1/24/2009)

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