Fear, Shame, Hiding, and Blame: God and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Sue Stratton

Part two of a three part series: What’s in a Name? The Presence of God!

I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, no Good, very Dad Day [1]

by Sue Stratton

Alexander is having a bad day. We can all relate.

We all have bad days. You know those days where nothing goes right.  On those days the universe itself seems set against us.   Some of those days are merely inconvenient.  Who hasn’t had a flat tire, a lost wallet, or a missed flight?  We might curse our luck, but we call AAA, go to the DMV, or reschedule our flight and life goes on.

Then there are bad days that leave a mark on our soul. They normally come in succession. Bad Day followed by Bad Days. There is the heartache of prolonged unemployment, foreclosure on a house, a marriage gone sour, a sick child, or the death of a loved one.  These events affect us deeply; they change us.

As a parent, the events that seem to be the most devastating have to do with our children.   Children are vulnerable; they are dependent.  They need us.  Most parents would do anything to keep their children safe, secure and comfortable.  Most of us are like our heavenly Father in that regard, He loves His children.  The worst day in a parents life is the day that their child is hurt, sick or in trouble.  Equally as painful is if the relationship is threatened resulting in estrangement of the child from the parent.

The Worst Day in the Life of God

The worst day in a parents life is the day that their child is hurt, sick or in trouble.

I think the worst day in God’s life took place thousands of years ago in a garden now lost somewhere in Ancient Middle East. There He suffered the greatest loss known to any parent:  the estrangement and ‘death’ of His children.   Adam and Eve decided that relationship with Him was not worth the cost of obedience and they willfully struck out on a course of their own.

Adam and Eve must have been quite shocked at the expulsion from the only home they had ever known.   I think an even greater shock was the agony of living and moving through life no longer knowing the sweet manifest Presence of their Father.  As great as these losses were, they were not their only concern. There were other tragic internal realities that Adam and Eve (and their children) endured on and since that fateful day. Not only did their external reality change, their internal reality was altered as well.

After the Fall

It was a very bad day.  From this fateful day forward, Adam and Eve and their children will never be free of shame nor will they ever experience a lasting sense of peace for fear will be a constant companion. This fear and shame will drive them to hide deep within themselves.   The perfect relationship they have enjoyed will be continually tarnished as they blame one another for faults both great and small.  These are the four immediate results of the fall as recorded in Genesis 3:7-13.


Adam and Eve’s first response was to sew fig leaves together to cover themselves:

“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” (Genesis 3:7)

Adam and Eve were experiencing shame for the first time in their lives.  Shame is a painful emotion caused by a strong sense of embarrassment, unworthiness or disgrace.

Shame is what makes us drop our eyes and withdraw within ourselves.  It shouts outs within us “You are bad to the core.” We embrace this thought and feel as though we are not good . . . and that we will never be good enough.

Shame drives our true selves deep inside causing us to create false selves in order to cover the fragile broken reality within.


For Adam and Eve, shame was swiftly followed by the new sensation of fear.  Adam summed up the experience:

“I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked…” (Genesis 3:8)

Webster defines Fear as the feeling of disquiet or alarm caused by the expectation of danger, pain and disaster.

Since the fall we are afraid.  We are very afraid.   Our waking hours are too often spent trying to insulate ourselves from all that can go wrong in our lives.  We insure our house, our car, our boats, our pets, our phone, our smile and of course our very lives.    Sometimes even our insurance has insurance.  Some of us fear not measuring up so fashion becomes our Task Master. Beautiful clothes hide so very much; they ensure that another’s gaze won’t find the real us. Others ward off fear by becoming workaholics. Often an unhealthy drive to succeed has fear firmly in the driver’s seat.


Adam and Eve’s response to this overwhelming fear was to hide from God.

I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” (Genesis 3:8)

No one can hide from YHWH.  It is just not possible. Ps 139 reminds us: “Where can I go from Your Spirit? 
Or where can I flee from Your presence? 
If I ascend to heaven, You are there; 
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. 
 If I take the wings of the dawn, 
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, 
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.”

But we still try to hide from God . . . and one another.  We have become so good at hiding that some of us even try to hide from ourselves.


The final blow was Adam blaming both God and Eve for the entire event. The man said:

“The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.”

When the LORD God says to the woman, “What is this you have done?” Eve blames the snake:

“The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Gen 3: 13)

Ever since that fateful day, shame, fear, hiding and blame sum up the human condition . . . just one bad day after another.

Created to intimately know, love and be loved by their Father and one another, Adam and Eve became consumed with shame, hiding, fear and blame.  And so are we today. No matter how much we mature, no matter how much we aspire to move beyond these constraints, these four emotional riptides can knock us over and pull us under in the blink of an eye.  They are always lurking in our psyche influencing our inner life.

Your Bad Day

Having a bad day?  Maybe you are in the middle of a personal riptide.  Maybe you are living in the midst of “Nightmare on Your Street” or maybe you are a secretly a “Girl Interrupted.”  Have shame and fear sent you into hiding? Do you find yourself blaming your husband, your roommate, your boss or the weather for the tough luck in your life?

Alexander came to the realization that some days are like that . .  . even in Australia.   I think we could travel to each of the four corners of the earth and find these devastating disorders at work.  We must overcome these four deeply rooted response patterns to become all that we are created to be.  We must somehow return to the Garden from whence we came.

Take Heart

Take heart!  YHWH has provided a way through our pain back to his presence and tomorrow I will share with you how I have found a little piece of THE Garden in my life …and no it is not in Australia!

Tomorrow: God’s Cure for A Very Bad Day


[1] Viorst, Judith, and Ray Cruz. 1972. Alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. New York: Atheneum.


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