I tapped the red circle to end the call, slid the back door open, doubled over and bawled. Because after hard phone calls it makes sense to ugly cry into the grass. Chalk it up to a therapeutic watering I offered our droughty, California yard.
My heart was racing from stingy words. I gave myself permission to cry and then asked myself, Where is truth I can grow from these words?
I apologized for where I went wrong. I vowed to grow. I prayed. I sought councel from my peeps. Now, it was time to put aside the pain instead of carrying it around, and move on with my bad self.
These are big steps for me, friends.
Before, when tension would rise, my first thought would immediately be, How can I change? What can I do better? I’m a horrible person. Something is wrong with me. Look how I made that person feel.
You see, I’ve been wearing shame much of my life and, until recently, had no idea.
Before these words would define me. They would wrap tight and choky. Worse yet, I’d believe they were Who.I.Was. Never mind when I digest shame, it allows the enemy do the happy slither.
Can you think of a time you messed up and believed your failure defined you? That, my friend, is shame. And you don’t have to buy it.
When we believe we are horrible people, instead of imperfect humans who make mistakes, we live from an insecure fearful space. Fear paralyzes and leaves no room to flourish. It shuts down our feelings. Our dreams. The very fibers we are made of. Fear makes us ineffective and numb.
As life unfurls and naturally offers relational bumps, we can either choose to let shame define us or grow us.
It was a mentor who first said, Have you ever thought that God actually enjoys how you are? I honestly thought, No, I have so much to work on. Yet as I ask Jesus to reveal areas where shame attempts to root, I find freedom in His assurance, in letting Him sand away splintery edges and grabby control. I choose to focus less on wanting to change myself and trust He actually knows what He is doing.
I’ll admit, this I’m-confident-in-who-I-was-created-t0-be-realm is new, but dipping my toes in self-acceptance waters has been mighty refreshing. For the first time, I’m believing God enjoys me, and made me this way on purpose.
And God made you that way on purpose.
With your unique passion and purpose and personality.
What if our mistakes, our differences created authenticity in us, rather than shame?
Growth. Courage baby steps. Or as Brene Brown calls it “shame resilience.”
Karen sent mail love from Boston to our Huntington Beach doorstep. Inside, Daring Greatly, “a fascinating read” her handwriting declared. A researcher on shame and vulnerability, Brene speaks into the very feelings I’d been trying to make sense of.
Cue ugly tears all over again, but in a healing way.
It’s like the first time I read Cold Tangerines and thought, Someone else thinks this way? I’m not alone.
Brene says this about shame and defines shame resilience, “…to practice authenticity when we experience shame, to move through the experience without sacrificing our values, and to come out on the other side of the shame experience with more courage, compassion and connection than we had going into it. Shame resilience is about moving from shame to empathy- the real antidote to shame. If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.”
And then smack in Chapter 3 she shares her own story of being criticized for her appearnace and mothering: “I clearly saw that these comments trigger shame in me and I could quickly reality-check the messages. Yes, they still hurt. Yes, I was pissed. Yes, I cried my eyes out. Yes, I wanted to disappear. But I gave myself permission to feel these things for a coupld of hours or days, then I reached out, talked through my feelings with people I trust and love, and I moved on. I felt more courageious, more compassionate, more connected.”
It’s here you picture me snotty on our couch. I must have read that paragraph 38 times. Hadn’t I just done this? Yes! I did it! I’m practicing shame resilience! I’m not mustering up a tough facade or casting away my feelings. I’m not running away or beating myself up.
I’m taking solace in finally coming to understand maybe, just maybe, how I am is enough, and one worth living on purpose.
For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. – Zephaniah 3:17