The Shame Exchange (review)

The Shame Exchange: Trading Shame for God’s Mercy and Freedom by Steve & Sally Breedlove and Ralph & Jennifer Ennis.  Navpress 2009

shameThe Shame Exchange website.

pages: 190
recommendation: Yes, with discernment

The Shame Exchange is a book designed to aid the reader in dealing with condemning emotions.  The authors methodically move through this easy-to-read resource as they define 7 aspects of shame and then reveal in two chapters the common methods of covering shame.  They complete this work by informing the reader of how to deal with shame in a biblical manner.

There are a couple of reasons why I am not quick to recommend this book wholeheartedly.  The first would be that a clear definition of shame seems to elude the reader through out the book.  The authors state that “…by definition, shame makes you feel really bad.  It’s far more than embarrassment…”  I came away not fully understanding what shame is and no real idea on how to identify it.  It seems to be a feeling, a “sense”, a “desire” or a “soul wretchedness”.

The second reason would be that I perceived a slight “Gestalt” flavor of psychology in the book when I was reading it.  There was the perception that the reader must “peel the layers” of their life back to find the origin of their shame.  Let me be clear, it was not a strong suggestion, but the feeling remained with me as I read.

I liked the fact that the authors were using Scripture as the source of dealing with shame.  They provided numerous biblical examples of individuals dealing with shame and adaquately gave the “healing ingredients” for the reader to deal with their own shame: (1) “readings in spiritual formation [must be a] mainstay”, (2) “God’s Word [is] foundational to…healing, and (3) [community] “the prayers of those who embodied the truths of God’s love and acceptance were critical”.

Based on these limited observations, I would recommend the book to the discerning reader, and see the use of the book good for stimulating conversation in a counseling type situation.  I do appreciate the work and effort and vulnerability the authors poured into this work.

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