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“I don’t want shame on me!”

Picture of Greg Stier
Greg Stier

I knew it was going to happen sooner or later. As my strong-willed-sweet-as-pie little girl is getting more and more chatty I knew that it would be just a matter of time before I’d be blogging more about her tiny tot escapades. Her big brother Jeremy is a walking/talking sermon illustration file for daddy. Teenagers and adults alike love it when I tell Jeremy stories. As a matter of fact I’ve used so many illustrations about him lately that I don’t give him an allowance anymore. I pay him royalties.

But its Kailey’s turn now.

Just the other day Jeremy (age 7), Kailey (age 3) and Daddy (age none-of-your-bees-wax) were at the park playing when Kailey did something she shouldn’t have done. When I found out what she did I scolded her and told her, “Shame on you Kailey. Shame on you.” She immediately began to cry, “I don’t want shame on me Daddy! I don’t want shame on me!”

To be honest I laughed a little. It sounded funny coming out of three year old lips. Shame to her sounded like some kind of nasty goo that she didn’t want on her. I was thinking to myself, “She’ll be fine. She doesn’t even know what shame is. It’s just time for a nap.” So we loaded back in the car and went home.

Later on that night I had all but forgotten about her comment. By this time we had all eaten dinner, played, prayed and were getting the kids ready for bed. I was putting Jeremy to bed that night but, as always, I came into Kailey’s bedroom to give her a hug and a kiss. As I walked around the corner into her doorway I saw my wife getting Kailey changed into her pajamas. Then I heard my daughter start crying to my wife, “Mommy, I don’t want shame on me!”

My heart kind of dropped because I knew that I was about to get some shame on me. Debbie looked over at me wondering what in the world she was talking about. I explained. She gave me the “what are you a complete idiot?” look of mommy/wife exasperation.

I launched a speech that went something like “it goes to show you how the shame of sin impacts us even at a very young age… blah, blah, blah, preacher blah…”

My wife just said, “She’s three years old Greg.”

Suddenly I had a vision of Kailey in her mid thirties laying on a couch in some Psychiatrist’s office admitting, “The earliest words I remember my daddy saying to me were not ‘I love you’ or ‘I think you are a special little girl’ but ‘Shame on you. Shame on you.'”


What are my takeaways? First of all I need to be careful what I say to my children. They are more perceptive than I probably give them credit for. Secondly, I thank God for my wife who adds a little ying to my yang when it comes to balancing love and discipline (I’m more of a discipline guy.) Thirdly, I am convinced that the whole concept of shame impacted my daughter so strongly because of the fact that all of us are born in sin, including sweet little Kailey.

It all started in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve broke God’s command and got the goo of shame on them. They tried to cover their shame with fig leaves. They tried to hide their shame from God himself. But they couldn’t…and neither can we. Through Adam that sin and shame has been passed down through the generations of humanity to our grandparents, to our parents, to you and to me. But it’s when we begin to sense the shame that comes from sin that we can begin to receive the grace that comes from Jesus.

Maybe if we could get a little “shame on us” we would be more receptive to the grace that God provides. Maybe we don’t have enough shame in this culture and as a result people don’t sense a need for a Savior to save them from their sin and shame.Maybe the same is true of our children.

Or maybe I’m just an idiot.

If you agree then shame on you.

Unlikely Fighter

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