In his book, “Shame Off You – Washing Away The Mud That Hides Our True Selves,” Senior Pastor and Author, Alan Wright takes his readers on a thought-provoking and potentially life-changing journey aimed at first uncovering and, ultimately, breaking free of one of the most powerful and debilitating emotions of the human condition – the “inner tyrant” we call shame. Along the way, he recounts a Valentine’s Day sermon he delivered to the women of his congregation, in which, after first spending a night reflecting on the two most influential women in his own life, his wife and his mother, he took on the mantle of too-prideful men everywhere and offered the following “confession” and plea for forgiveness. It is a profound message that, with Alan’s permission, I am privileged to share:
“I have glimpsed the pain of the dishonored and shamed women in our world and I believe God has sent me to you today to say that I’m sorry for not honoring you.
I’m sorry for the way men have abandoned you. To every little girl, whose daddy was too busy at work to notice her playschool art, for every dance recital we missed because of needing to work late at the office – again, for every preacher’s daughter whose father was out saving the world but didn’t notice he was losing his own little girl . . . I am truly sorry.
When the moment of the battle rises, and the dragon rears its ugly head, we were meant to fight – to do something, even if it’s the wrong thing. But we have been too silent, too passive, and we have left you to fight your own battle.
We’ve left our adolescent girls to find out about their sexuality in the backseat of a boyfriend’s car, rather than in the open conversation and sanctity of our home. I’m sorry for our silence – that we haven’t spoken to you more. And I’m sorry that we have been so unable to show our daughter’s affection. You wanted to roll in the grass, to ride on our shoulders, to feel the whiskers on our cheeks, and to sit in our laps for long stretches of time. But we’ve been uncomfortable with touch, because we weren’t taught it by our fathers.
I want to say I’m sorry for every little girl and every wife whose daddy or husband abandoned her for a bottle of alcohol. When you needed us, we just weren’t there.
I want to say that I’m sorry for every little girl or wife whose daddy or husband left home and didn’t come back. You were the hidden treasure and we didn’t know it. We thought we could find it at the end of the rainbow, over some distant horizon, but the rainbow had no end, and there was no other treasure, and for too many of us, it’s now too late.
I’m sorry for the ways we have used you for our advantage. No, I’m not the child molester, nor the rapist, nor the man sitting at the bar watching you dance around a pole, nor the John who was your last customer. I have not, by the grace of God been that man. But what man in our midst has not sinned by looking upon a woman as an object rather than a person, putting expectations upon your waistline that we do not put upon our own? We have bought the cars and the calendars that the bikini models modeled. I feel the whole weight of the unthinkable ways that we have used women to momentarily soothe our own deep inward shame.
May I tell you – if we could be honest with ourselves, with God and with you – how most men really feel?
We marvel at who you are. You have a discernment that we don’t have. You notice tiny, subtle details when we see nothing at all. We marvel at the way you make relationships, and we secretly long to be able to find and make friends the way you do. We’re amazed at the way you pray, the way you sing, the way you smile, the way you laugh, the way you cry. We’re amazed at how deeply you feel things and how easily you express your feelings. We are amazed at how multidimensional you are – interweaving softness and strength; how you have endured so much, persevered through so much, and celebrated so much.
Every woman is a rose. Lovely, mysterious, fragrant, and meant to be handled with care. Its piercing thorns greet only those who recklessly grab the stem without taking the time to appreciate its total beauty. The most beautiful of flowers, the sweetest of fragrances, and the costliest in the florist’s shop. You are beautiful from the moment of the first bud, but your beauty unfolds a petal at a time as you blossom and grow. Today, we honor you. We do not seek to own you, use you or control you – but to admire you . . . and to thank you!”
It’s a powerful starting point, but there is much work left to be done. Thank you, Alan – for sharing your heart on behalf of all of us.