I wasn’t planning to post today, but sitting here in my living room with a mound of laundry on the couch to my right and a sink full of dishes beckoning to me from the kitchen, my heart is overflowing. The chores can wait, my friends; for now, I want to share what’s on my heart.
A couple hours ago, I returned from a coffee date with two women who are quickly becoming dear friends. The kind of friends who make you feel loved in the midst of a simple conversation and who aren’t afraid to challenge and say hard words when they need to be said. The kind of friends who share Jesus’ love generously and model how I want to be.
We talked a lot about the personal difficulties I’ve faced in the last year in particular, many of which are related to what I shared in yesterday’s post. This season has been so hard with becoming a family of four, Dan’s job transition, the move to a new town 45 minutes away from all our old friends, and unexpected financial stressors. These events turned up the heat in our lives, and while they were not the source of my personal anguish, they brought to light serious issues that were hiding down in the recesses of my heart.
I’m beginning to see how so much of my feelings of failure as a mother have been rooted in a desire to prove something. I’ve often been that person, the ultra-competitive gal that is driven and ambitious to an unhealthy extent. I have no doubt that a large part of my chronic fatigue and joint issues are related to my inability to let things go and just accept that life is messy and that I don’t have to have it together all the time.
Here’s the little piece of revelation I had today: having something to prove, while completely unhealthy and a major contributing factor to my stress, isn’t the root cause. There’s something deep that runs underneath, putting fuel to the fire, and it’s shame. Shame that I’ve felt for almost as long as I remember, though I don’t know when it truly began. It’s not shame over something I did or something that was done to me, but generally about who I am as a person. This feeling of being “less than” and unworthy has characterized much of my life, and I can now see how it has driven many of my decisions along the way.
I’ve always wanted people to know that I am smart and hardworking and capable and friendly and caring. Any time I’ve sensed or suspected that others’ viewed me as lesser, I’d redouble my efforts and work to show them wrong. How much energy I have wasted proving something that most of these people probably didn’t even care about! But shame was there, motivating me yet always disappointing, because enough is never enough.
Once the light bulb went on in my brain about this, the kindness of God rushed in to every little nook and cranny of my heart. I know what the Bible says about shame. Jesus died on the cross and bore my shame, so that I could be holy and blameless before God. The thoughts I have about being less than: they aren’t truth! They are lies from the pit of hell, and Jesus died for me so that I no longer have to live under their bondage. It’s Gospel 101, friends, and something I’ve learned before, but it is hitting home afresh today.
Thanks to be God for his indescribable gift! -2 Corinthians 9:15