Friday, February 12, 2016

Shame and Imago Dei (The Image of God)

Over Valentine's weekend a few Christian couples may experience marital conflict. It is my belief that a healthy marriage occurs when a spouse can stop pointing the finger at the other person and take responsibility. The following poem was written in hopes that someone in the midst of conflict might pause and reflect if possibly personal "shame" and fear are at the root of much marital conflict.

 Shame and the Imago Dei (The Image of God)

There’s a current of fear raging within my soul
That prevents me from believing I’ll ever be whole.
It’s a suffocating sorrow that some call “shame,”
But to me it’s a deadly game of affixing the blame.

I fight to be seen as the one without error,
For allegations of fault bring me to terror;
A fear you will discover what I already sense,
“I am defective” and perfection is my defense.

When I point my finger and judge you for sin,
It is really a cover for fear flowing within.
Shame screams to me that “I am defective,”
And from this comes my painful invective.

If I’ve lost control and am full of anger,
The one you love may indeed be a stranger,
I'm struggling to grasp God’s truth of me,
Even knowing His Word can set me free.

He says I’m made in His image and bear His grace,
I’m the apple of His eye and He’s taken my place.
He'd never love and die for one without worth,
So pray I come to know my value from birth.

The demon of shame drives my inner fear,
Arguing there's no way God holds me dear,
But when I can believe God over my shame,
I can love you as is and end this deadly game.

W.W.Burleson (2016) 


Bob Cleveland said...

I used to get riled up, as in RILED UP, when folks would cut me off in traffic, pull out in front of me, run a redlight as I was preparing to go, etc. Then God began whispering to me something along the lines of "You've done worse...", and bingo! Those little things no longer bothered me.

It applies in my marriage, too. I know I'm not perfect, so I have no right to expect perfection from Peg. Besides, I never forgot the line my dad told me before I got married:

"Where one will not, two cannot argue".

Been driving 60 years, and married 56 years next month, and this stuff works.

Rex Ray said...


My mother always said, “The one that loves most gives in first.”

Unknown said...

Wade, your poetry is well written and contains some helpful insights into conflict management. However, care must be taken to prevent inflicting damage to persons with an inferiority complex who continually carry a heavy load of guilt. Forgiveness and absolution of guilt must always be seen as readily available to each person.
Your blog continues to minister to many persons. May God continually add his blessings.
God Bless,

Wade Burleson said...


I'm not sure what you mean by "care must be taken to prevent inflicting damage to persons with inferiority complex who continually carry a heavy load of guilt." In my mind, that is precisely what the poem does - "relieve a heavy load of guilt and removes a complex of "I'm defective" by reminding the person who feels this that God sets His love and sends His Son for people of worth, people He made in His image. I'm more than happy to receive the caution, just unsure where it applies.

Christiane said...

I think about 'shame' and our response to God with our sackcloth and ashes, and His response to us in the prophet Isaiah's words (Isaiah 58), that God doesn't want our 'I'm sorry I did it', as He wants for us to turn our care from ourselves to others in trouble . . . in the words of St. John (1 John 3):

"16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. . "

apparently the sackcloth and ashes is not what God desires from us as an 'I'm sorry for my wrong-doing' . . . if the sacred Scriptures are right, we are pointed towards showing an active care for those who suffer because 'we know love by this' . . . the selfless act of Our Lord 'for us' is THE active servant model for those who are healed of their brokenness by Our Lord Himself. . . giving 'of ourselves' honors Him when our giving helps relieve the suffering of those God places before us.

Doug Martin said...

May I feel free to post this poem on my Facebook? It speaks VOLUMES to the Chinese context in which I minister. THANKS!

Wade Burleson said...

Absolutely, Doug!

Glad it's useful!