Saints and Shadows by Les Rust

Leslie D. Rust is a Presbyterian pastor, writer, and blogger who has a keen interest in liturgy, monastic spirituality and the mysteries of faith. Having grown up in the mountains of east Tennessee he is an avid hiker, camper, and makes and hangs out in hammocks of his own creation. He is fond of music, mirth, and at least a little bit of mayhem. He can be found blogging at Character in the Making. characterinthemaking.com.   The sun has made its way into my window this morning.  It is a clear day with only a few high, thin clouds at the moment—warmer than it has been.  Thankful for the sunlight on this new day.   Before it rose I was chatting with a good friend who has a ministry dealing with faith and mental illness.  He has had a hard time lately including a brief stay in the hospital to help [...]

Saints and Shadows by Les Rust2021-02-10T09:53:56-05:00

Shame on You: When Mental Illness is Taboo

Shame is a soul eating emotion.  ― C.G. Jung Guilt can be good, if it leads to a change of heart, a transformed mind, reformed behavior. Shame, however, is a wicked parasite that feeds off not what we have done, but who we are. Shame is an external imposition. At least it starts that way. We are taught to feel ashamed. The 3-year old child of a friend once hopped out of the bathtub and took off running through the halls, shouting "I love my body. I love my body." This innocent exuberance is soon replaced by quiet discretion which, if handled too roughly, can become shame the child feels over his body. Shame is not part of God's created order. Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.  (Genesis 2.25) Shame only came about as a result of disobedience. It is not God's good design, [...]

Shame on You: When Mental Illness is Taboo2019-12-15T20:11:42-05:00

Soul Eating Shame: Internalized Stigma

Shame is a soul eating emotion.  ― C.G. Jung Guilt can be good, if it leads to a change of heart, a transformed mind, reformed behavior. Shame, however, is a wicked parasite that feeds off not what we have done, but who we are. Shame is an external imposition. At least it starts that way. We are taught to feel ashamed. The 3-year old child of a friend once hopped out of the bathtub and took off running through the halls, shouting “I love my body. I love my body.” This innocent exuberance is soon replaced by quiet discretion which, if handled too roughly, can become shame the child feels over his body. Shame is not part of God’s created order.   Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.  (Genesis 2.25)   Shame only came about as a result of disobedience, of willful separation from [...]

Soul Eating Shame: Internalized Stigma2019-08-19T00:55:15-04:00

Penance: Spiritual Self-Harm

penance: (n) punishment inflicted on oneself as an outward expression of repentance for wrongdoing. ‘he had done public penance for those hasty words’.   When I first separated from my (now) ex-wife, I was miserable. I wrestled with a sense of guilt and confusion, searching my mind for what I could have done differently to make a better marriage. It wasn't as if I had shut God out of my life, or the life of my family. Faith, while admittedly mixed with many of my own flaws, was evident in who we were and how we behaved. My mental illness had certainly played a strong role, but even that didn't seem like an adequate reason. Granted, over 90% of people with bipolar who marry wind up divorced. Yet, I held out hope that God would bless us to be the slim exceptions. My time alone after I left my family behind [...]

Penance: Spiritual Self-Harm2019-01-06T21:22:13-05:00

Guilt is Good; Shame is Sinful

Some time ago, a friend wrote to me a blog comment in which she raises a very tough question  She writes this -- We have a dear, Christian friend who has stage 4 cancer. Although he lives a good life, helping others and spreading the word of God, he believes that God is punishing him for his past sins by giving him cancer. Do you believe God punishes people for their sins? Especially after a person has found the Lord and changed his/her life?  I wrote back -- Wow, big question. It depends on how you define "punishment". Certainly, God allows natural consequences for our behavior. A life-long smoker may develop lung cancer and God may choose not to miraculously intervene. I would say, though, that in a case such as this we are really the ones who have punished ourselves, "fallen into the pit of our own making." The good [...]

Guilt is Good; Shame is Sinful2018-09-26T13:25:52-04:00
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