[su_note note_color=”#d5d5d5″ text_color=”#91201f”]Heather Davis Nelson’s Unashamed is graciously available free to Christ and Pop Culture members through our partnership with Crossway Books.[/su_note]

If you want to shut down a conversation quickly, bring up the topic of shame. While it may be a part of each and every one of our stories in one way or another, it’s not something we talk about that often.

And yet, talking about our shame is a significant way to begin healing. This is part of the premise of Heather Davis Nelson’s Unashamed: Healing Our Brokenness and Finding Freedom from Shame. In it, Nelson draws on recent research, as well as her experience in counseling, to give readers a glimpse at how the gospel speaks to and helps heal our shame.

We need communities where we can be open, and we need to have the conversations about shame that we might otherwise want to avoid.

Nelson tackles three different types of shame: body shame, social shame, and performance shame. The chapter on social shame particularly helpful and relevant to how our member’s community functions here at Christ and Pop Culture. It is not uncommon that people will be transparent and vulnerable in their postings in our member’s Facebook group. In fact, not only is it a place for communal advice, but also for comfort. By doing this, we are following some of the advice that Nelson offers her readers:

[T]he truth is that in order to be in safe, secure relationships within safe and secure communities and churches, someone has to go first. Someone has to take the risk, the plunge, into vulnerability. It’s the only hope of connection. I cannot empathize with pain that I do not know about— that you have hidden from me or others. One troubling aspect of the modern-day church in America is that there are few people who are brave and courageous enough to risk going first (which contributes to the church’s reputation as a community where it’s not safe to be real and vulnerable). The trailblazer always has a more difficult time than those who follow. (Kindle Loc., 964-969)

While some places may not provide a community where feels safe to be real and vulnerable, we like to thing our virtual community is such a space. Not everyone has to be vulnerable about everything, but at least there is a place where it is possible. Nelson’s book goes a long way to explain how that can be done and fostered further in a healthy way.

Likewise, she offers insight into how social media and social shame overlap and intersect. Imagine you are having the perfect day at the beach. After a long day of family, friends, and fun, you check in on Instagram and Facebook to see what others were up to. Before long, the “perfect day” seems noticeably less so. While it might be easy to blame social media for this problem, it actually has more to do with us than our apps.

After offering a better version of that illustration, Nelson explains,

[T]he problem isn’t with social media. It’s with how social media activates our social insecurities and our heart’s default to compare and compete because we feel like we deserve better than what we’re getting. We are not content with who we are and what we have been given. Social media provides an accelerated means of revealing our hearts. But it’s not the fault of social media. The fault lies with how we use it and respond to what we see on it. We often use social media as a shield against our shame, but we always come up short because it isn’t powerful enough to rescue us. And what we see via social media can trigger our shame in potent ways, resurrecting long-held insecurities and fears of exclusion. (Kindle Loc. 897-902)

Ultimately, we know that rescue can be found in Christ. But, there are steps in the process, and healing takes time. We need communities where we can be open, and we need to have the conversations about shame that we might otherwise want to avoid. By reading Unashamed, you’ll be better equipped to interact with your own shame. And in doing so, you’ll become a person who is able to walk with others through their own shame.

capc_become-member_hover-300x300To receive a free copy of Heather Davis Nelson’s Unashamed, consider becoming a member of Christ and Pop Culture for as little as $5 per month. You’ll get free stuff each month, full access to CAPC Magazine (including all back issues), entrance to our exclusive members group on Facebookand you’ll help us keep the lights on. Join now.

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