The Grand Ball – Shame
Written by Major Susie Erickson
It never occurred to me I should decline the invitation to the Father–Daughter Banquet. Surely, the teacher knew I didn’t have a father when she slipped the envelope into my hand.
I planned my wardrobe for weeks. I would wear my pink Easter dress, with the white lace trim. I had a matching hat, white gloves, socks and white patent leather shoes. My outfit was fancy like the invitation I held in my hand. Surely it would be proper for the occasion—swoon worthy.
As I walked through the door of the banquet hall for my grand entrance, all eyes were on me, but they weren’t swooning. Their look was awkward and silent. Then I realized they weren’t looking at me. They were staring at my mother who stood by my side. It occurred to me I was the only little girl in the room without a father on her arm.
My dress was beautiful. My hat matched perfectly. I held the invitation in my hand, but shame whispered I didn’t belong at the Father–Daughter Banquet. It seemed a scarlet letter on my forehead screamed, “Fatherless!”
The enemy greeted me at the door and sat me at the orphan’s table. He leaned in and whispered, “You should have stayed home. You don’t belong here.” I saw fathers delight in their daughters out of the corner of my eye. They were princesses and I was a pauper. Shame stole my innocence in the short walk to my seat.
As the school year transitioned to summer, I received an invitation for a playdate at the home of a friend from church. As I walked through the door of their big two–story house the enemy whispered, “You should have stayed home. You don’t belong here.” He had stolen my innocence at the Father–Daughter Banquet. He would not steal my playdate.
My new friend and I were inseparable throughout the summer. As summer faded into the new school year, my mother received a note from my friend’s mom. “Dear Mrs. Blake, We will not be hosting any more playdates with your daughter in our home. We want our daughter to have friends who can reciprocate similar playdates. We do hope you understand.” The message in the note was crystal clear. I wasn’t good enough to be friends with her daughter.
When shame took root in my heart, it grew like kudzu vine in the heat of a southern summer. It entangled me in a web of deception, rooted in the lie I was not good enough. It would take more than a fancy dress and matching hat to restore my worth.
The Bible tells the story of another orphan who didn’t feel worthy to sit in the presence of royalty, although a royal birthright ran through his veins. Mephibosheth was the son of Jonathan, and grandson of King Saul. In a moment of childhood haste, a tragic fall left him crippled. Calamity is no respecter of persons. Crippled and alone, he took his seat at the orphan’s table when both his father and grandfather died in battle. He was only five years old when shame stole his innocence. The enemy took him by the hand and led him to his seat. He leaned in close to whisper, “You may have a royal pedigree, but you’re not worthy to sit at the king’s table.”
While most kings tried to wipe out the families of their rivals, King David wondered if any of Saul’s family was still alive. He promised his best friend, Jonathan, he would show kindness to them when he became king. He summoned a man named Ziba, who’d been one of Saul’s servants. Ziba told him Jonathan’s crippled son was alive and lived in Lo–debar.
When David sent for him, Mephibosheth was fearful to come before the king. Calamity lived on his doorstep, and he’d grown to expect the worst. The enemy met him at the door of the palace and reminded him he wasn’t worthy to be in the presence a king. David sensed his fear and to Mephibosheth surprise, David extended kindness to him because of the vow he made to Jonathan. He gave him all the land once owned by his grandfather, Saul, and then invited Mephibosheth to live with him in the palace.
He held the invitation in his hand to live like a prince in the palace with King David, but shame whispered, “You should have stayed in Lo-debar, you don’t belong here.” Mephibosheth fell to the ground before the king and ask, “Why would the king show such kindness to a dead dog like me?”
It is no coincidence shame was the first emotion Adam and Eve experienced after they realized they were naked. It’s a powerful tool the enemy uses to keep us from fulfilling our destiny. It is a child molester who snatches innocence for the purpose of building strongholds of fear which follows his victims into adulthood. Like Adam and Eve, it causes victims to hide the intimate parts of ourselves from each other and God.
Shame attacks the areas where we are most vulnerable. It also attacks the uniquely designed areas where we can be most impactful for the Kingdom by making us feel ashamed of who we are. Humiliated of our circumstance, can cause us to believe we are flawed and unworthy of acceptance and belonging. Flawed beyond significance. We fade in the shadows on the outskirts of community where our daily goal is survival. We settle for a safe existence, instead of a life lived with purpose and meaning. We blend in, when we were born to stand out.
The friend I spent summer days with exchanged glances as we passed each other in the hallway at school. Poverty divided us. When the lunch bell rang, she sat with the cheerlead I sat alone and dreamed about a table where the rich and poor are welcome alike. A table where Barefoot Cinderellas sit down with princesses and nobody treats them differently.