I am a writer. I write to change the world for the better. I don’t know if I am succeeding but my heart is in the right place. I also work full time to make money to support my eating habit and make my mortgage payment, keep the lights on, trivial details like that.
I have not written anything that anyone would yet want to purchase, so writing for a living doesn’t seem to coincide with the lifestyle I choose to maintain. But I am thrilled to write about the life I’m living in the hopes that it inspires something in you – namely to live yours well and to encourage others to do the same.
Today I decided to write a love letter to friends who hurt and struggle. You may be one of them. I hope this blesses you. It’s longer than usual so if you’re not struggling or don’t think you will be anytime soon, now would be a good time to jump off.
There’s not much point in hiding the fact that I struggle in this life. The struggle has included both the appreciative responses to great joy as well as appropriate responses to deep pain and loss. I have experienced pinnacle moments and dealt with profound grief. There have been some wonderful decisions made that have contributed positively to my life and some poor decisions that have detracted and degraded life for me and for others.
In the last few years, I have come into contact with some teaching on the topic of shame. I have done some writing on it, did a talk or two for some folks as well, but mostly I have been connecting some dots in my life as to how profoundly easy it is for me to take on shame; to become identified with the guilt of wrong or the perception of something inadequate or ‘less than’ about me.
This is a lonely place, to be candid.
Most of my friends don’t want to discuss such things. Shame is a private struggle and the world would prefer it stay that way. Guys and gals, regardless of how close they are, don’t walk up to each other and start talking about where they feel shame.
The school systems don’t teach much on the topic of shame. In fact, schools promote a hierarchy of rewards and downplay the silent struggles of its students. Church and religious systems are not far ahead (behind) of the schools either. Many church organizations are known for lists of do’s and don’ts, yet their sanctuaries are full of strugglers, like me, who find it easy to hide amongst the masses.
I’m not sure that there’s much that can change here so, please, don’t hear me coming down on the school or the church. Shame has its place and the public square isn’t its home. Shame is quiet, private and lonely. Ask a man who’s losing the battle with porn. Ask the obese, the chemically dependent, the one who struggles with depression – ask them about where they go with the shame they wear.
Shame comes on like a blanket designed to cover our naked, nasty selves and we wear it because it seems the right thing to do.
But shame is no comforter. It is an insidious garment that tempts us to see ourselves in the light of a misleading mirror.
I write to you today a love note for the shame-feelers, the shame-hiders and the shame-denying. Shame has been defeated. There is a way out of shame. It is not an easy way but it is a proven and profoundly amazing way (hint – hiding or denying aren’t going to help). You feel it for a reason.
The world will continue to coach and coax you with counsel to move on, to get past, to get over things. I hope that you (we) get to do just that. But without the awareness of truth, you will not move or get anywhere further than your own ability to control your emotional response. It will be 100% up to you to make sure that you feel good about what went wrong and what you’ve done to cope or fix.
There’s a promise in the scriptures that coincides with the amazing story of the life of Jesus. It’s found in context of some exhortation that I often use when I feel like I need to pick myself up, dust myself off, re-calibrate and get going again. It’s centered in one of my favorite commentaries on Jesus and reminds me that He loves me, that His life & death was for a purpose and that He endured that horrific trauma of public execution so that I would never forget – that His love includes not only payment for all the wrongs done by humanity (sin) but it also brings with it an aggressive and effective move to wipe away the shame that would follow us.
I know that life is messy for some of you. It is messy for me too. But it is a good and blessed life we live in a time when hope fades fast.
I hope you’ll read this scripture today, even if you’re not a big fan of Jesus. Fan or not, there’s never been another teacher, preacher, pastor or prophet who’s made such an audacious claim as Him. If it’s true, that He really did do this for us, it changes everything.
Shame filled or shame released – which would best describe you today? Shame denying or shameful hiding – either of those fit? How about released, free, forgiven?
I write to you today in the hopes that you will consider letting Him do for you what only He can do – for all of us; released to live life as it was meant to be lived – free! It starts with a simple ask…
Stand firm, friends! Let me know what’s on your heart. You are much loved and greatly admired.