My thoughts have been circling around the topic of shame; how it creeps in, keeps us where we are, silences us and takes everything sacred from us. My shame level has been high this week, if you'll allow me to be vulnerable for a few moments... (Please know that there is a difference between vulnerability and a pity party, I am not looking for the latter).
I have a colourful past, full of things that should permanently put the shame cloud over my head. Yet, here I am, exposing all my weaknesses on a public domain for the world (okay, fine, my small world) to view. Why? Why does it feel like I'm different than you? Why is it that when you look at me you would maybe not have a clue that for 6 years I was addicted to pornography, or that I used to send random guys pictures of my body to try and get them to love me, or that I grew up without a Father to tell me I was worthy and beautiful, or that for 2 years I was in a relationship with a girl, confused, because I didn't feel like a lesbian but the way I dressed and the things I did with her told me that I was a lesbian, or that for years I struggled with believing that people were friends with me because they loved me not because I did things for them. Why can't you see that I had a hard time thinking positive thoughts about myself, that I was codependent on more people than I care to admit and in the process destroyed multiple friendships with good people. Why can't you see that my loud obnoxious voice was my defence mechanism for when people got too close to me because I knew the ugliness that laid within my heart. You can't see any of it on me because I got in a plane to get above the cloud that was trying to purch over my head! I paid the first class ticket and took that baby above the cloud to see the sunset. Am I perfect? Heck NO. Does this mean I am free from the struggle of shame? Nope, that sucker still rears its ugly head.
One night I found myself sobbing on my couch to the point where I couldn't breath, my eyes were swollen so that the tears could barely come out and I was whimpering like a small child who just had their bag of candy stollen. The shame tape turned itself on, and began to repeat that evening and I couldn't break free from it; "you'll never get over this struggle. You will always be a crappy friend. You couldn't attract a man even if you covered yourself in steak and barbecue sauce with fried onions and bacon. You will be alone for the rest of your life, not only will you not find a man but all of your friends are going to get married and forget that you ever existed. You were never wanted anyways, stop trying so hard with your tanned skin and cute pink glasses!" As I laid on my couch that evening, tears streaming down my face dripping onto my couch cushion I believed everything I was hearing. If you had been in the room with me you would've heard me proclaiming something along these lines... "Lord, I cannot do this anymore. It's too hard, and it hurts too much. I don't understand why you are doing this to me! What are you trying to teach me that couldn't come in an easier package!? What is the purpose of this? The weight is breaking me." And within a moment of exposing my thoughts and fears, I felt God near and felt him reach out to me and say "I know YOU can't do this anymore, but I can. I know this hurts and I'm sorry for the pain but what is lodged in your heart needs to come out and this is the only way to get it out. I can't tell you why it's happening like this, but I need you to take my hand and trust me once more. I need you to once more believe that I am sovereign, believe that I have good intentions, that I'll never leave you nor forsake you and that I'm writing the perfect story for you." As I wiped the snot off my face, the following song lyrics played through my speaker...
"Take courage my heart, stay steadfast my soul, he's in the waiting. Hold onto your hope as your triumph unfolds, he's never failing." The tears started again, but this time I peeled myself up off my couch, took a deep breath and said "Okay, I trust you."
See, there wasn't a Big Bang, lights, loud noises or anything else that broke shame off of me that night, all it was, was persistence. I pushed through knowing that I may not be where I want to be, but I sure as heck aren't where I used to be and in order to get where I want to be I need to move forward. Please understand that I am not bragging about how holy I am, how much better I am at getting back up or that at least I can get up. I am however exposing what I believe to be a disease among people. Shame kills any hope that we have to be better. It kills dreams. It kills friendships, relationships and marriages. It kills any chance you had to have influence in your nation. It kills any chance you have of fighting for the ones that are coming up behind you. Get out from under the cloud, and take the tape out of the player and throw it away.
HOLD ONTO YOUR HOPE AS YOUR TRIUMPH UNFOLDS.