From shame to strength
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
Nobody likes to feel humiliated. It's a feeling of being horribly alone, naked in the face of others, mistreated. And sometimes there's the nagging lament that we might have contributed to this feeling ourselves - that we, deep down, may even deserve it.
But humiliation can also result from injustice. What if we can honestly say that we're not at fault? What can be done if we're facing injustice?
A difficult situation in my life involved feeling humiliated to a degree I didn't know was possible.
I had been working for a group of people within a large organization and had received additional training that would normally lead to a career advancement. But I found myself entering a trap.
I was the first woman in this organization to be on this road, and while men with the same qualifications were promoted effortlessly, I was told that I would have to leave the organization altogether. An unfair investigation began, which questioned my qualifications. It involved slander, and I had to endure questioning looks, even from well-meaning friends.
During some very dark moments, I felt terrible, reduced to nothing. I felt ashamed, and I questioned the reality of justice.
But then one day prayer led me to this thought: "This is injustice, clearly. There is no good in it. But God is still just and good, and you can put your whole trust into this divine justice. Forgive, and walk away from it."
This was a great relief. This thought encouraged me to stop ruminating. It pushed me to accept that justice has its source in the spiritual realm of goodness and peace. I read this psalm from the Bible in a completely different light: "Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds. Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O Lord, thou preservest man and beast" (Ps. 36:5, 6).
I've loved this psalm very much ever since that time. It sings to me, and I have learned that righteousness is a quality that God owns. Whenever we express righteousness, it is through borrowed light, reflection. Our dignity and worth are rooted in a wonderfully stable and exalted power, rooted in Love, God, the supreme authority and strength behind anything good ever created.
Even when I found nothing significant or good in the situation, I still could say that God is good and that justice is a divine right. These ideas sustained me.
Also, I saw the wisdom to stop analyzing the whys and why nots; I could build on firmer ground. I mentally walked away from the humiliation and found freedom.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of The Christian Science Monitor, wrote these strengthening words: "No evidence before the material senses can close my eyes to the scientific proof that God, good, is supreme. Though clouds are round about Him, the divine justice and judgment are enthroned. Love is especially near in times of hate, and never so near as when one can be just amid lawlessness, and render good for evil" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," page 277).
In the end, justice prevailed. Some people were dismissed from their positions, and the whole structure within the organization changed to prevent something like this from happening again.
No matter what kind of injustice we're facing, untainted dignity and worth are everyone's God-given birthright.
He is the Rock,
his work is perfect:
for all his ways are judgment:
a God of truth and
just and right is he.