The attack was totally unexpected.
Miss Kitty was in her usual place on my lap and I petted her occasionally while I worked on some writing.
For no perceptible reason, she suddenly grabbed my hand with her front claws and ripped my flesh, while digging in my arm with her back claws.
She bit me hard, then bolted off my lap and out the front door.
I cleansed my wounds and wondered if I touched someplace where she was injured or if this was just a case of temporary feline insanity.
In any case, I was mad.
About an hour later she pushed the door open, walked slowly toward me, and sat at my feet looking at me before lowering her head.
Miss Kitty was ashamed.
She had reacted badly without thinking and knew she had done wrong.
She was ashamed and wanted forgiven.
She… is a better “person” than I am.
Shame has gotten a bad rap in the culture lately.
Shame is now an invalid response to anything short of criminal behavior because we are supposed to be tolerant of of bad behavior of diverse sorts in ourselves and others.
What we used to be ashamed of is now just another gift of the god of self expression…who we worship with unbridled glee.
It doesn’t matter anymore what you say or how you say it, how you act or who it affects.
You have the right to be who you are.
There is no need to be ashamed…shame is bad even if your behavior is offensive.
All that matters is your right to be you…however rude, foul, coarse, mean, or stupid you want to be.
As a result we live in a culture that grows increasingly rude, foul, coarse, mean, and stupid.
You cannot discern between Christians and pagans on this matter.
We evidently have the right to self expression too and offer our incense at that altar when provoked.
I have one of those altars next to my computer.
I’m ashamed of how easy it is for me to justify being boorish and mean because of some perceived offense.
I’m ashamed that ripping someone is my first instinct, not my last.
I’m ashamed that most of the time, I’m not ashamed.
Miss Kitty has been forgiven and restored to fellowship.
I need to go and do likewise…right after I tear down this altar.
The one true and living God is touchy about such things…
Make your own application…
Just thinking of loud, but I would wonder if part of our cultures stance toward shame has been an overreaction to the weaponizing of shame in the past.
For example, your cat didn’t need for you to make it feel shame, it was a natural reaction to poor behavior. You also recognized that she knew that she had done something wrong and restored her.
Shame in many cases has been used to break people, and keep them broken. Shame when wielded as a weapon against others can reduce them to a weak willed shell of a person.
I don’t think that we want either of those outcomes. The answer, as usual, lies somewhere other than at the extremes. It probably looks a lot like you and your cat.
Excellent observation…well said.
Michael: I find it hard to remember most days that I am flesh and bones and that my reactions often do not come from the spirit but from my unregenerate parts. But it is comforting to know that as time goes by, there are fewer of these parts to myself and fewer instances of having to return to the Father and repent of my poor behavior. I believe in sanctification, although we don’t hear much about it anymore, and I believe that once God has sanctified a part of us, an attitude, a behavior (or whatever) we are free from reacting in the flesh and that part of us is truly holy. I also believe that in Christ we are holy and seen as righteous by God. But when I look at people like David, it’s good to know that they were just people who sometimes screwed up like we did. I guess my point is, don’t be so hard on yourself.
I think there is a distinction to be made between good, healthy shame, which is what you’re talking about in your article, and unhealthy shame. Unhealthy shame, which can be pathological in nature is when we allow ourselves to be defined by a weakness or something we have no control over. Some people have too much shame. They are so ashamed that instead of running to God, they run away from Him, believing they are just too dysfunctional for God to accept them.
Thank you, Judy.
I’ve found that if I’m hard on myself when need be, it saves God the trouble… 🙂
Maybe you found out how she became a stray in the first place. Neurotic kitty.
Excellent…well said, my friend.
We’re all neurotic kittys some days…
Miss Kitty must have a conscience. Mr. Noodles doesn’t have a conscience and had never felt a minute’s worth of shame, unlike Lilly the Chihuahua who is a very pious little dog.
Chocolate, my pig, may be a sociopath.
I don’t know if it’s that she has a conscious or is interested in self preservation. 🙂
She doesn’t seem to like anyone but me, so she needs to keep me.
I did a bad thing is not the same as I am a bad person. Inappropriate shame focuses on who I am, not what I did. It generalizes a mistake into worthlessness.
Miss Kitty sleeps with me on my bed…maybe if you moved Chocolate indoors…
That is gold…
Chocolate is destructive, devious…and probably smarter than me. If I let him in, he will probably lock me out.
Fil – You make a good point.
I am tempted to go all proof text and post a “He took our shame” verse, but I understand the point of this post, and I agree.
Healthy shame is no more or less than the conviction of the Spirit.
We need it and we should respond as Miss Kitty did.
She ended up with treats for her piety… so do we. 🙂
Once Mr. Noodles tied me to a chair and then booby-trapped the door so after I escaped from the chair I would fall flat on my face.
You may need to call a cat therapist… 🙂
I love that crazy cat. 🙂
Great comment, Fil! #13
That’s a happy cat…good job, Xenia!
Just sayin’ LOL
“Your cat may be trying to kill you, study says”….
this is a wonderful post and some pretty good comments follow… especially: “I did a bad thing is not the same as I am a bad person. Inappropriate shame focuses on who I am, not what I did. It generalizes a mistake into worthlessness.”
in Miss Kitty’s defense, she may have been zoned out and had an attack of cat crazies… my daughter’s old cat will have attacks where he wakes up, rips around the house like a banshee, tearing into everything he passes and then goes to one of his favorite spots to continue his nap – i think Miss Kitty ran out of there thinking, “oh what have I done? what have I done?” bad cat, bad, bad cat … 🙂
This has been an excellent thread…proud of it.
hold onto that thought, Michael
When we get the kind of thoughtful reflection we have today it makes everything else worth it.
Some folks have read these comments and are being blessed…and that’s the name of the game.
Thank you Michael for speaking into my life once again.
Cash, your #5 is gold.
I have a lot of trouble expressing myself at times. As I read through these comments others do it for me. That’s the beauty of this place Michael.
The commenters did us all proud on this one.