Thursday, April 3, 2014

When Shame is Your Crown

She wore it like a backpack full of bricks. Heavy, invisible bricks. When meeting people for the first time, she was uncharacteristically uncomfortable. When spending time with dear friends, she learned the art of quickly maneuvering the conversation so that the other person revealed all and she inadvertently escaped having to reveal much of anything. Her internal mantra? Head down, avert eye contact. Overcompensate by serving big and loving bigger. Maybe if people liked what she did they wouldn't have time to dislike (or even HATE. shudder) who she was. That backpack full of bricks? It was STEALING her identity. Shame was her crown.

Sounds awful, doesn't it?! And yet, that has been me at a given moment. For quite some time, I had never even considered that shame was a crown I donned frequently. Once I noticed it, however, it became a rather glaring trait. Shame is definitely NOT beautiful. At times throwing off the shame has felt daunting and insurmountable. The reality is, I KNOW truth. I can verbalize truth, say it over and over to myself until I am blue in the face. But believing--like heart-depth, down-to-my-toes believing--is a different ball game.

And gosh darn it, one of these days I am going to hit it out of the park and smash that crown in the dust. All because of this:

"Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame." Psalm 34:5

I would gladly exchange shame for radiance, wouldn't you?! I think about Jesus and the confidence with which He lived his earthly life and carried out his ministry. Why? How? Probably because He was daily, minute by minute, reliving that moment when heaven opened up and He heard/felt/believed the words of refreshingly gentle truth: "This is my Son, whom I love, with Him I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17).
His mirror was Father God. 

Oh that my mirror would be Father God, that I would exchange my covered-in-shame face for one that is gloriously radiant. That crown never did fit me anyway.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I'm Back: Finding the River Once Again

It's been almost five years. And when I look back, when I take in the mountain peaks I've scaled and the valleys in which I've wept, I see what became my saving grace: The healing power of Story. One of my favorite fiction authors, Charles Martin, penned these words in his latest novel: 

"Story is the bandage of the broken. Sutures of the shattered. The tapestry upon which we write our lives. Upon which we lay the bodies of the dying and the about-to-come-to-life. And if it's honest, true, hiding nothing, revealing all, then it is a raging river and those who ride it find they have something to give--that they are not yet empty" (excerpt from Unwritten, by Charles Martin). 

My soul screams out a resounding, "Amen!" to these beautiful, poetically accurate words. 

In my darkest moments, I have been sewn back together by Story. I have laid the bodies of the dying upon the canvas, and I have been swept away by a raging river that will not let me rest upon the shore for long. So here I am, crawling back into the rage, opening the wounds that fester deep, and allowing Story to find me hiding nothing once again.

I recently snuck away from life for two weeks with my sister, finding a somewhat rocky peace in respite from this chaos I call mine. In those empty spaces, I read a book that I think will become a signpost, a shift in direction, in my life. Anatomy of the Soul, by Curt Thompson, took a spotlight and exposed the dank alleys of my soul I have both knowingly and unknowingly kept secret for a long, long time.

Emotion has never been my forte. Oh, I feel deeply. But I never learned how to channel the tsunami, so early in my life, I assume, I developed coping mechanisms to divert and avoid the torrent. They worked for a time, but Emotion is a beast that will not be contained. You choose not to let Him out and He will create His own way. His way can look like damaged relationships, fear and avoidance of intimacy, a few extra pounds here or there that add up to a whole lot more, other health problems, addictions, and on and on and on. Over the years, He has forged His own paths out of me, leaving scars that will not heal slowly.

It's time I face Him head on, embrace and accept the truth He heralds. Expose the shame and fear that have hijacked my life for so long. And find healing from the only One who "searched me and knows me" (Psalm 139:1). He, the One who searched those deep spots I've avoided and covered over, and yet knows me. He knows me in the deepest, most intimate way possible. And there is no shame, no condemnation in being known by Him. Yes, there is freedom in being known, and I want to find that place with Him.