28 March 2015

Tamar: Shame

2. Samuel 13:1-22

Don't look at me.
I am nothing now.
Why this?
Why me?
Don't look at me.

Don't tell me
it was all my fault -
I ask myself already
what I could have done,
why I didn't see.
Don't look at me.

Don't tell me
it was not my fault -
it changes nothing,
does not take the shame.
I could confess,
though it's his sin.
My shame would stay.
You could show pity,
say you forgive,
though it's his sin.
My shame would stay.
Call me innocent -
it will not change
the truth of my shame.
Don't look at me.

I feel dirty.
Nothing can wash me.
I feel hurt.
Nothing can heal me.
I feel lost.
No one can find me.
I don't want them to,
don't want them to see
my shame.

Lord -
are you like those
who avoid me now?
Are you like those
who pretend I am fine,
or those who condemn,
denying relief?

are you the listening ear
that lets me scream,
the one who covers
my shame with clothes,
the God of vengeance,
the God who forgives,
who sees my shame
but honours me?


[September 2013]

Tamar, David's daughter, was raped by her half-brother Amnon. Not to be confused with Judah's daughter-in-law. There's a second (older) poem about David's daughter, here.

This was influenced by my "homework" for the paper I'm writing about shame / honour cultures. Western theologies often look at the Gospel in terms of guilt, when what bothers people in most other cultures is not guilt but shame. And at some point I had to think of Thamar (though I've written a poem for her already...), and victims of abuse. You can feel terrible about what happened to you, even though it was not your fault. Even if you know it was not your fault, you can still blame yourself, feel broken, and what helps people in such a situation (I think) is not so much someone telling you Jesus died to take your guilt away, but knowing that He died also to take your shame away. Because I think one can feel ashamed even if one is not guilty.

The part with the clothes is based on Genesis 3, where God gave Adam and Eve (who were ashamed after having taken the fruit) clothes to cover them. Shame has a lot to do with the feeling of exposure. I was thinking also of all those verses in the New Testament (and also some in the OT) about putting on salvation and righteousness and putting on Jesus "like clothes".

No comments:

Post a Comment