Bethany Quinn on Shame

Another Wednesday and I’m back. It seems the universe has a good sense of irony.

Anyway, Katie’s busy with rewrites and since it was kind of cathartic to have my say last week, and since I’d prefer to get to know the people who will be reading my story, I figured I’d give it another whirl.

Back in the beginning, when Katie was trying to get to know me, she asked me this question.

Are you ashamed of your past?

I just sort of stared at her.

First, because she was really starting to remind me of Dr. Nowels, sans the toupee. And in case you don’t know Dr. Nowels, let me assure you, the comparison is not meant to be flattering.

Second, because I thought the answer was obvious.

My past isn’t exactly something to be proud of.

I grew up in a trailer park with a mother who had to work third shifts at an aluminum plant. We drove a rusted out Pinto with a faulty muffler and I had to wear my brother’s hand-me-downs. I did one stupid thing when I was twelve and had to spend the next year in therapy. The next ten with a stigma that refused to go away.

Is it any wonder I left?

Nobody likes feeling shame. It’s not an endearing emotion.

When I explained all this to Katie, she raised her eyebrows and sucked on the end of her pen. Like whatever I’d said nudged an invisible puzzle piece into place.

I didn’t rise to the bait. I didn’t ask what she was thinking.

Because it doesn’t matter. I’m an architect, a really good architect. With a masters degree from Texas A&M. With a new car and closet full of nice clothes.

I’m well respected. I’m independent. And that stigma I had growing up? Nobody sees it here. I know how to hide it. In fact, I can almost pretend it never existed.

Even though we’re not BFFs or anything, Bailey and I understand each other. Because her past isn’t all roses and sunshine either. She’s well acquainted with shame. In fact, she’s talking about it here

Let’s Talk: Do you ever struggle with shame? How do you deal with it?

Interested in reading mystory? You can preorder Wildflowers from Winter on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or

Check out Katie’s Facebook Author Page or Dani Pettrey’s Facebook Author Page for a word of encouragement regarding shame. 

Two people are reviewing Wildflowers from Winter today. One from Heather Sunseri (she asks a powerful question and hosts a giveaway) and another from Casey Herringshaw

22 thoughts on “Bethany Quinn on Shame

  1. Hi Bethany/Katie!

    You two are both beautiful writers! Excited for your debut!! Read a few pages and you have that writer’s voice that makes me want to keep reading!! Shame is what I felt for years till I heard that song from Margaret Becker…(an oldie but a goodie)…”Just come in…” … if you want to hear it, it’s on my blog entry called, “My Easter Playlist.” Hoping I can share some place in the YA section at B&N with you some day!! 🙂


  2. Shame is the core of so much suffering. It tells me something is wrong with me…versus guilt which tells me I did something wrong. In my recovery in Alanon, for families of alcoholics, I have learned that I carried a lot of shame because of what my husband was doing. The core of my shame? I thought that if I was a better mother, wife, business partner, then he would not drink and drug. Looking back it seems crazy!

    Today I know that I am not responsible for the choices and decisions of other people. My walk with God is mine and mine alone, and he only wants me to clean up my side of the street!

    Thanks for the reminder today…

  3. I struggle with shame sometimes it bothers me more than other times. I’m so glad that God forgives us, and gives us another chance when we mess up.

  4. Janice Boekhoff

    I was one of those infected with Toxic Shame from my family (see Teri Metts post) and like Bethany, I thought becoming successful and accomplished would invalidate those feelings of shame. If could just have ___ then I would feel important/special/worthy. Funny thing is, basing your worth on what you do makes those shameful feelings worse. Praise the Lord for the grace to overcome our feelings and the knowledge of our value as children of the King!

    Can’t wait to read Wildflowers From Winter!

    1. Katie Ganshert

      You sound so much like my author! You two should get together.

  5. Oh,honey, yes! I wallow in it awhile before believing God really does want to forgive me and give me another chance.

  6. I do! And I don’t deal with it well…so I’m always trying to be careful with what I say and do so I don’t have to be ashamed. It’s a horrible feeling. 🙁

  7. Good to hear from Bethany again!

    1. Katie Ganshert

      Glad you think so! I’m thinking of coming back one more time. Three’s a good number, right?

  8. I think shame is one of the worst feelings ever. Truly. And yet God is soooo much bigger and He never intends for us to live in a place of shame. I loved seeing Bethany walk through that journey of discovery in her story!

  9. Bethany, I’m glad Katie let you share again. Today’s topic is certainly one I can relate to. In fact, I included a chapter on shame in one of the Bible studies I’ve written.

    For years I struggled with shame that wasn’t related to anything I’d done, but was a result of choices others (mostly my parents) had made that I wrongly believed was a reflection on me. Bethany, I’ve read your story, and I would say this is primarily what happened with you too.

    During the 1990’s I went through a study called “Making Peace With Your Past”, and the author called this kind of shame Toxic Shame. He talked about how people who grew up in troubled homes often have a shame-based personality. His teachings were a real eye-opener for me that eventually helped me move beyond the worst of my shame. Today I still struggle at times with shame, but I try to recognize it for what it is and move on.

    1. Katie Ganshert

      Hmmm…that sounds super interesting. Not the Bible stuff (sorry, just being real). But the idea of Toxic Shame. My way of making peace with my past is avoiding it. Katie tells me it’s not working so well.

  10. I often feel ashamed of the way I treated people when I was younger…or not so young. Just little things I’d say or do, sometimes not even meaning to hurt someone. But they hurt them all the same, and that is shameful to me.

    But there is hope, because God is good. He can use those instances to change me, and that’s what I’m praying for.

    1. Katie Ganshert

      Okay – Katie here. I had to fight Bethany away from the keyboard. Because I am SO with you on this Lindsay! I think of times I was mean to somebody in junior high or high school. Or the times I was a total brat to my mom and my dad and I definitely feel shame!

      So glad I’m forgiven. So glad for grace!

  11. Shame is tough, for sure. I, of course feel it from time to time, but I try to categorize that type of emotion into the pot with all those other emotions that come from the past, and therefore things I cannot control. Lot easier said/written than done, though.

    1. Katie Ganshert

      Definitely. Especially since I hate when things are outside of my control.

  12. I have a writer friend who is working on a book focused on the topic of shame. And so many women want to talk with her about their own feelings of shame …
    Yes, I could add my story.
    I think everyone struggles against shame.
    And that is why I am so thankful God offers not law, but grace.
    (I just wish I’d grabbed hold of the gift sooner.)

    1. Katie Ganshert

      Not law, huh? I’m not so sure. You must not have ever meant Pastor Fenton. I don’t think he knows what grace means.

  13. Looking forward to reading your story Bethany, I’m glad you hijacked Katie’s blog, again. I don’t know that there’s anything I’m particularly ashamed of in my past, things I’d change if I could, sure. But it’s those things that made me who I am, and your past made you. Just think, if you hadn’t left home you might not be the great architect you are. And, without your past, your story might not be nearly as interesting.:)

    1. Katie Ganshert

      Leaving home was definitely the best thing I could have done. I can’t even imagine my life if I would have stayed in Peaks.

  14. Shame can be crippling. I loved seeing how you faced yours, Bethany, and became a healthier, happier person as a result. Your story is a powerful one I’m sure readers will enjoy, and you can tell Katie I said so. =)

    1. Katie Ganshert

      This makes Katie excited. This makes me…I don’t know. Curious, maybe.


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