Shame hides in many forms. It not only resides in the traumatized, but also in their family members, friends, and peers. Even those who facilitate trauma healing can get sucked into shame as secondary victims. One such person was the Apostle Peter.
In the last blog, we recall that Jesus asked His followers to watch and pray with Him in His hour of trauma. But they were too worn down, exhausted, too weary to continue with Him. Then, the shock of His arrest sent them into a panic. They fled just when He needed them most, (Matt. 26:56) right before His physical torture began. But, “Peter followed at a distance” into the high priests' courtyard (Matt. 26:58).
The only person who dared stick around is often ridiculed. However, reading further, “And he went in and sat with the servants to see the end.” Peter is the only one of the twelve named here. Although functioning in the human emotion of fear, Peter conti- nued to remain present. He had not yet denied the Lord, but he had gone a courageous step further than all the others. He had not run away. He stayed. He watched in horror. He listened to the false witnesses (although he would later become one of them).
Peter watched his closest friend being accused, mocked, spit upon, lashed and gouged. It was too much. He was faced with helplessness and hopelessness in the face of death. When they questioned him, fear overcame him and the denials spilled out, “I don't know Him. He began to curse.” (Matt. 26:74). Finally, “He went out and wept bitterly.” Peter knew his assignment that night was to speak up for his Friend, but fear hijacked that call. He tried to save his own face while failing his Friend miserably.
Earlier that day, Peter had been so self-assured, “Lord, even though all forsake you, I will never be made to stumble,” (Matt. 26:33). He had been too proud to heed the Lord's warning, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” His quick reply, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.” So self-confident, so full of self-promotion. Through his own pride, he would be sucked into shame's iron grip. He had set himself up.
As facilitators, we all share the same human weaknesses. Shame would have us fall into the same trap as Peter and as those whom we are rescuing. Like him, we are called to face horror, but not in our own abilities. Instead of elevating our view of ourselves, let us proceed in cautious humility: “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distri-buted to each of you.” (Romans 12:3) When we carefully and prayerfully enter into meone's pain and trauma, the Spirit Himself adequately prepares us to respond boldly and truthfully. And then, it is shame that will flee from us