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Lewis Smedes, a seminary professor and author of the book "Shame and Grace," tells in the opening chapter of that book of two different events, close in time that opened him to the reality of shame in his life.

The first event was a conversation with a close friend who, in response to Smedes’ statement about feeling "vaguely guilty," simply said, "I don’t think that you feel guilty at all, Lew; I think that what you feel is shame."

The second event concerned his mother, who lay dying in a hospital. As he visited her one day she said to Smedes, "Oh, Lewis, I’m so glad that the Lord forgives me of all my sins; I’m a great sinner, you know."

Smedes found the statement incredible. As he reviewed her life, with all the demands of raising a family and the constant willingness to help others in very simple ways, praying each night to the Lord to help her do it again for one more day, he thought, "When did she have time and where did she get the energy to do any great sinning?"

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