Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Shame Game

Last week the kids and I were listening to AFR in the van. On the broadcast was Carolyn Tweetmyer, an adoptive mother of six Ethiopian orphans, as well as the biological mother of seven. Yep, thirteen kids in all! Two of her adopted children are HIV+. In fact, her daughter Selah was suffering the end stages of AIDS before the Tweetmyer's rescued her. She's now thriving. Amazing!

AIDS. I remember the panic, the fear, the stereo-types..... In the sixth grade my parents allowed me to take an AIDS awareness class at school. This was odd for my folks because they avoided discussing " the birds and the bees" all together! Even back then at the beginning of the AIDS crisis, I understood that I couldn't contract the disease by drinking after another person. I also understood that this disease came with a terrible, terrible matter how it was contracted. To me in 1989, AIDS = shame. I wasn't the only one.

Over the years my views have broadened. This terrible illness entered my reality.

So, here I was in the van with kids and the oldest asks " Mom. how does somebody get AIDS?" Wayne and I are trying really hard not to let "sex" questions be taboo, but I must admit that I stumbled through that part. Clean blood and infected blood, mothers and babies....I know I confused them all! When he said, "Should I be afraid?" I answered, "Never."  "Can we play with a kid who has AIDS?" My response, "Of course you can!" His last question, "Would you and Dad adopt one of those kids?" "In a heartbeat son, in a heartbeat." I am grateful....we've come a long way.

Carolyn Tweetmyer said that there is treatment available in Ethiopia. Then why did she say that one in every three adults in that country is HIV+? Shame. They don't seek help because they are too ashamed to admit they have this illness. Fathers and mothers die everyday. Children suffer, they are orphaned, they die too. Help is right there....

It hit me like a ton of bricks, shame. I know I've wagged my finger and said, "Shame on you!" to a kid or two. What I was really trying to do was conjure up some kind of remorse. But shame isn't remorse. Everything I've ever been ashamed of I've hidden. Sneaking around in my younger days = shame. Debt = shame. I buried my shame so deep and disguised it so well that guess what got BIGGER. Too embarrassed to ask for help, too afraid of the consequences, my problems just grew in the dark. Help was right there....

There is no shame in forgiveness. How many times has my shame left me totally exposed? No where to go, no where to hide, nothing left but surrender. Sweet surrender. God doesn't shame us, we shame ourselves. He releases us from our shackles. It's my prayer for the people of Ethiopia, who suffer shamefully, that they would accept the hope being offered. Souls should never be lost to stigmas. Thank you Jesus for setting us free!

Psalm 130
Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord;
Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.
If You Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with You.
That You may be feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
And in His word I do hope.
My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning.
O Israel, hope is in the Lord;
For with the Lord there is mercy.
And with Him is abundant redemption.
And he shall redeem Israel from his iniquities.

Click here to see Carolyn Tweetmyer and her amazing family.


  1. I watched the video. I think it's interesting that two of her boys are named ethan and sam!

    I guess I've never thought about the fact that shame and remorse are different, until today. Thanks for opening my eyes.

  2. Thanks Reagan!
    Once again, you it a cord or is that chord? Anyway, you have separated remorse and shame for me... something I need to work on with my kids. :) Thanks friend and of course for the adoption site.