Posted in Rambles

This Shame Problem

I’ve recently begun to identify a problem on the fringes of my awareness.  Someone suggested it to me, a long time ago, saying they had received a little ‘nudge’ from God in their spirit while praying for me.  I didn’t believe them.  They had heard wrong, I thought.  My problem was anxiety, not shame.

But when I pray, and come face to face with God and show Him my pain, I am beginning to see that I do carry around a vast amount of shame.  It’s not even necessarily to do with things that I’ve done wrong, as we would normally define it.  It is so deeply rooted, that, as I mentioned, I didn’t believe it was there.  Woven into my fabric.  A part of myself.  Like a long, long thread that – if it were to be pulled out – perhaps I would fall completely apart.

It occurs to me that, in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve suddenly developed the ability to feel shame, they did not only hide their sin.  They made garments, and covered their bodies.  What is sinful about the body?  Nothing.  The body itself is not sinful.  Yet, they were inclined to cover it.  They were inclined to hide from God when He came looking for them.

I don’t think they were only ashamed of their sins.  They were ashamed of their very selves.

Like me.  I’m not only ashamed of my sins.  I’m ashamed of my very self.

I pursue something in life, trying to do some good.  I lead a music therapy session, or write a blog post, and then look back on it and feel ashamed.  In doing these things, which are so near and dear to my heart, and, I believe, true to what God has designed me to do, I am exposed.  My voice, my words, my very best efforts, are on display for others to see.

And it is mortifying.

I fear that what I have done will not be enough.  I will be laughed at, frowned upon, or mocked.  My motives will be revealed as tainted.  (Be honest – how often are our motives 100% pure and unselfish?)

And if this deeply woven thread were to be pulled out, what would remain?  Would I fall apart, as I fear?  Why do I believe that feeling ashamed somehow qualifies me to continue working?  (Sure, I suck, but at least I feel bad about it.)  Why do I think that the shame holds me together, when in reality it only causes me to hide?

Today I re-read an article that said to not compare yourself to the faster runners, or the slower runners, but to just run your own race.  I’ve been taught by the wise teachers in my life to “leave the results up to God.”  I’m not sure why he would create, in me, such a flawed vessel.  But He did.

And after Adam and Eve sinned, He still went looking for them.

He said to them, “Who told you that you were naked?”

He knew what He had made, before they felt it necessary to hide it.  And in fact, He had said that it was “good.”

He could have made me differently, or done away with me altogether, a long time ago.  He could prevent me from ever leading another session or writing another post.

But He doesn’t.

Maybe that, in itself, is saying something.

Does any of this resonate with you?  Am I making sense, or no?  I would love to hear your wisdom and ideas in the comments section below.

Warm wishes,

Lisa

Posted in Meditations

Freed to Love

((*Note: In the past I shared recipes and printables on Mondays.  However, moving forward, I would like to share a meditation from my devotions instead.  I will try to post as many Mondays as I can but can’t guarantee that I won’t miss a few!  Hope you enjoy.))

“The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” 1 Timothy 1:5

Loving others can be hard.  Sometimes I don’t have the emotional reserve for it.  I’m too tired, stressed, worried, or depressed.  The weight of my own burdens is so heavy, that I don’t have strength to even think or care about what other people are going through.

1 Timothy 1:5 gives a clue as to how we may find the strength to love others.  In this verse Paul says that love comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.

What is the common thread through each of these points?

Honesty.

A pure heart – An honest heart that is truly and intently focused on pleasing God.  A person with a pure heart still won’t behave perfectly.  However, they will turn from their sin quickly and humbly repent of it before God.

A good conscience – If you are honest about your sins and failings before God, He will cleanse you of them.  You will not be weighed down by your sins any longer or the emotional burdens that they cause.  You will be more truthful with other people about who you are, including your weaknesses – because by the grace of Jesus you are no longer condemned or held hostage by them.  A good conscience feels light, and free, and will be given to anyone who asks.  This is nothing short of miraculous.

A sincere faith – Do you actually trust the Lord?  Is your faith in Him sincere?  Or do life’s troubles bring you to a state of depression and worry?  If you entrust your life confidently to the Lord, acknowledging that He will replace your anxiety and sadness with victory and joy, your emotional burdens will be lightened.  Then, you will be able to shift your focus to others.

Response

Jesus, please forgive me for not believing you with a faith that is sincere.  For holding on to depression and worry, rather than entrusting my troubles confidently to you.

Lord, I give you my day and all the challenges that will come with it.  I choose to believe that you will bring me victory and joy in place of anxiety and depression.  Please strengthen the sincerity of my faith, that my emotional resources could be freed for love and service.  Amen.

Posted in Rambles

The Night the Sky had Eyes

“Has eyes,” he said to me in his lispy, somewhat garbled, 2-year-old speech.  I leaned on the side of his air mattress and peered up through the screened ceiling of our tent, trying to gain his perspective.  Tree branches arched overtop, and twilit sky shone through their leaves, producing a mottled effect.  Two or three stars began to wink as the daylight faded.

“What has eyes, honey?  The sky?  The trees?  The stars?  No, they don’t have eyes.  I have eyes, see?  And you do.  But they don’t.”

“Has eyes,” he repeated in a whisper, tilting his head.

Whatever it was that ‘had eyes,’ it was sufficiently worrisome to prevent him from going to sleep.  And so it was decided, between my husband and I, to head outside and put the fly over the tent.  The air may have been perfect for a breeze, and the sky for gazing, but we would sacrifice them to avoid having to deal with a sleep-deprived toddler in the morning.

Throughout the camping trip, it was apparent that our young son had a decidedly unique way of viewing his experiences.  On the way to the campground, the old Ukrainian orthodox churches we passed, with their onion-shaped steeples, were ‘castles.’  The distant silhouette of trees against the horizon, appearing to move backwards as we drove past, was a ‘train.’

And perhaps the most surprising event came later on, at the beach.  I was pulling him to the shore after holding him up in the deeper water, when his feet brushed against the sandy bottom of the shallows.  He immediately flew into hysterics, screaming loudly and pulling his knees to his chest.  His facial expression and the calibre of his voice portrayed a terror that could not have been simulated.

“It’s okay, put your feet down!  That’s just the shore!” I called above the clamour he was making.  However, my words, to him, were empty.  The squishy, yet firm and somewhat slimy surface he had bumped into was most assuredly, in his mind, some horrific entity.  A giant fish, perhaps.  Or a sea creature.  It was going to eat him…or worse.

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We couldn’t help but laugh about our son’s reaction to something as harmless as a sandy shore.  And yet, I wonder if I am much different.

Like a scared child, I bump up against things I don’t understand.  I imagine things that aren’t there.  I over-estimate the power that they have.

Life is terrifying.  Am I the only one who thinks that?

But a voice, like a parent, calls above my chaotic thoughts.  Though I can’t always hear Him above my own screams, He holds me up when I’m too afraid to put my feet down.

I reach for this presence, when I cannot see the end of some enormous threat.  His sight is clear, and His demeanor is calm.  He doesn’t fault me for my silliness, weakness, or even my lack of trust.  He won’t drop me, just because I act like the toddler that I am.

Who or what do you reach for when you’re afraid?  I would love to hear your ideas in the comments section below.

Warm wishes,

Lisa

Posted in Rambles

Today Can Be Wonderful

Isn’t that a cheesy and idealistic title?  If you are like me, you will have passed right by.

Naturally, my tendency is to worry, and project imagined, negative outcomes long into the future.  I will wake up in the morning and think, “What am I doing with my life?  Will I ever be able to get a job after all this time spent at home?”  I will look at my kids and wonder, “Are we messing them up?  Are they developing to their fullest potential, or do they need more – vacations, extra-curricular activities, quality time…omega-3 fatty acids??”

At the very least, I’m not one to close my eyes and ignore the difficulties of life, in favour of a whitewashed, artificial, ‘positive’ outlook.

But a friend of mine recently told me about a technique she learned from a counsellor, that she calls 3-3-3.  Very simply, it is an exercise in which you thank God for: 3 things you can see, 3 things you can touch, and 3 things you can hear.  I tried it, and my mood improved.  I felt calmer.

I had practiced intentional thanksgiving in the past: thank you for my family; thank you for my health; thank you for my coffee maker; etc.  And yes, that helped too, but I felt there was something unique about the “see,” “touch,” and “hear” component.  What was it?

I think that by focusing on see, touch, and hear, you pull yourself out of your fearsome imaginings and bring your mind back into the present moment.  Back to today.  Look around you!  And listen, and feel – all of the things you have been ignoring, because you were so busy stressing about things that have not yet happened (and probably never will).

More than likely, you will come to the conclusion that: there actually are wonderful things all around you.  And no, not every day can be wonderful.  But many of us are privileged enough that the vast majority of days can be, if we will only open up our senses.  (Maybe sometimes, it’s good to be a little short-sighted.)

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There’s a woman living on my street who has the bubbliest, friendliest personality, and the most infectious giggle, that you could ever imagine.  She’s one of the first people I met when we moved here.  She’s probably the first person everyone meets!  Because, that’s just the way she is.

After our morning chats at the school bus stop, she will often send me away with an exuberant salutation: “Have a wonderful day!”

I have often heard people say: “Have a nice day.”  I’ve grown accustomed to it.  But here she is, with the nerve to speak of a “wonderful” one!

It got me to thinking.  Could today be wonderful?

And you know what?  Most days, I wake up to a fresh pot of coffee that my husband has brewed.  To healthy, joyful children bounding around the room and climbing up on my bed.  To warm sun on my face, or crisp, cool air in my lungs.  And to many other great things that I can see, hear, and touch.

I cannot know or control what will happen in the next 10 or 20 years.  But yes, today can be wonderful.  And probably, tomorrow can be too.

“Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:34

Do you struggle to live in the moment?  I would love to hear your perspective in the comments section below.

Warm wishes,

Lisa