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.