“If something comes toward you with grace and can pass through you and toward others with grace, you can trust it as the voice of God . . . . If a voice comes from accusation and leads to accusation, it is quite simply the voice of the “Accuser,” which is the literal meaning of the biblical word “Satan.” Shaming, accusing, or blaming is simply not how God talks. God is supremely nonviolent. God only cajoles, softens, and invites us into an always bigger field” (Richard Rohr, Daily Meditation, May 28).
Did you ever wonder if a thought you wanted to share or an action you wanted to take was the will of God? Did you ever second-guess a gesture of love or friendship or decide against offering help because you didn’t know how it would be received?
Have you you ever spent sleepless hours in the dark of night rehearsing all the dumb mistakes, the bad behavior, or the angry or bitter words that you purposely or without even thinking threw out into the world.
Richard Rohr offers us a view of God that can take away all this unnecessary agonizing with two statements:
- We can trust that when we have an idea that comes from a place of grace in us and moves in grace to someone else the idea is God’s will.
- We can trust that our agonizing self-blame is not from God. God is a God of grace; God “cajoles” and “invites.” God doesn’t shame.
Therefore we, too, are meant to operate out of grace; we are to “cajole and and invite.” We are not to shame or blame – even ourselves.
Shaming, “guilting,” and criticizing are not part of God’s personality. Thus they cannot be part of the image of God in us. We are never to listen to an inner voice of shame or blame, nor are we to shame or blame others. Shaming and blaming are an attempt to be in control; we need to take down someone else in order to feel good about ourselves. Our current president is a grand example of the damage that can be done to individuals, to diverse groups of people, and, indeed, to an entire country when negative behavior in general and name-calling, false accusations, shaming and blaming are to go-to behaviors.
Our life’s operating principle, then, is to recognize God’s grace to us and bring that grace into the world, free from any shaming thoughts and behaviors about ourselves or toward others. Henri Nouwen gives us encouragement in this effort:
[T]he experience of God’s unlimited and unlimiting acceptance of us as beloved children, [is] an acceptance so full, so total and all-embracing, that it sets us free from our compulsion to be seen, praised, and admired and frees us for Christ, who leads us on the road of service. This experience of God’s acceptance frees us from our needy self and thus creates new space where we can pay selfless attention to others.
This, of course, is living the Jesus Way.