Well, the Lord was willin’, but the creek still rose. And when it overflowed the river banks and the modem hit the wall, I sat down on my lime green couch and sighed.
I’ll admit, Thursday night, I was not a pretty picture. I’ll spare you the details, but I hit a low. And in the end, I was ashamed at my own reactions to pain and loneliness. Even though there was no one around to witness my tantrum, I blushed and tried to hide my face behind my hair. Exhausted, I tried to sleep. I woke up the next morning with a weight on my heart. I didn’t want to swing my legs over the side of the bed. By Sunday, I was tired of lying to myself – I will still carrying the Shame of my own inadequacies.
Now let me say this: Shame is not an emotion that I know much about. I’ll be truthful and admit that there haven’t been many times in my life that I have felt Shameful. There are times that I am embarrassed, sure. And I am often sorry for my words or actions. But I think Shame is something that runs deeper than feeling sorry for hurting someone’s feelings. Shame runs as deep as grief. And its just as taxing. For me, Shame comes, not when I’ve let down my best friend (guilty), or lied to my parents (guilty) – but rather, it comes when I’ve turned my back on God. It usually happens in times when I am spiraling down in self-pity, loneliness and/or anger. Times when my Creator most wants me to draw me close, to sooth my soul – those times when I pull away, when I scream or cry or ignore it all together. It is after those moments that my body and my heart give in. And then I feel it – that Shame for my un-dependence, my lack of trust.
I went to church on Sunday hungry for something other than this gnawing feeling. My church is a 30 minute train ride out of the city, on the top of the mountain. When I have enough time I hike up the mountain, as to spend that time preparing myself for worship. This Sunday I made a point of giving myself enough time to hike up – because I knew that otherwise, I’d be a mess during the service. When I got to the top, I walked towards my favorite spot – the prayer labyrinth. Even when I can’t hike up, I always try to walk through the labyrinth. The repetition of following the lines, not worrying about where I am going, helps to calm my mind and my body and leads to some really great times of prayer. This week was no different. Except, it was. As I started to pray, I felt God telling me to just listen for a moment. I wanted so bad to just confess my shame, my guilt, my fears, my anger – but God was telling me “I already know. And I still love you.” With each step I took, leading me towards the center, I felt my soul lifted. That may sound weird. But its true – the more I listened, the better I felt. As I quieted the dialogue in my head, I could hear the things God was wanting me to hear: the birds, the water from the fountain, the leaves blowing, my feet shuffling in the gravel….small things. Things of beauty, serenity. Peace. Grace.
I am not a person of shame. That is not who I am. Not just because I choose not be filled with shame – because truthfully, once its dealt out, I tend to hold on to it a little too closely. No, I am not a person of shame because God has told me that I don’t have to be. That I can be a person of Grace instead. I choose Grace. I’m glad God chose Grace.
“When I had lost all hope, I turned my thoughts once more to the Lord. And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple. Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God’s mercies. But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill my vows. For my salvation comes from the Lord alone. Then the Lord ordered the fish to spit up Jonah on the beach, and it did.” ~Jonah 2:7-10