How I am rising above shame (and the winner of Fight Back with Joy)

The past week was full. Full of tears, grief, sorrow, and pain. Full of joy, laughter, hope, and excitement. Full of new people, new friends. Abundant. Overflowing.

At times I was overwhelmed, felt behind, wanted to crawl in a hole to sleep, because it was almost too much for this girl who gets over-stimulated. And in all of the goodness and pain (which are not mutually exclusive) I knew I had forgotten something.

fightbackwithjoyI forgot to announce the winner of Margaret’s book. (see below)

Now, this might be a small thing most people would not realize, but to me, in my desire to do things right, shame creeps in. Failure speaks: “You screwed up. Who do you think you are? How could you forget something like that?

I have a choice: I can either listen to the shame, absorb its message of failure, become paralyzed in guilt, horrified by remorse. OR I can accept my inaction. I can acknowledge that I did not follow through, apologize (I’m sorry, my friends, I am), forgive myself, and work to rebuild my integrity.

As I choose the second path, I also choose to see who I am. In the face of shame which puts me down, I can stand and acknowledge how God has built me up. This work is difficult when I am tempted to see only the negative in me. But God has created me and his works are wonderful. I am “wonderfully complex” (Psalm 139:14 NLT). I am vulnerable. I am strong. I am compassionate. I am loving. I am passionate. I am wise.

With humility I see both of my failures and my gifts. I offer them to God. Use them. May I be a blessing to someone today.

What is shame speaking to you, today? What is the truth about who you are? Hold them both in your hands before God. You are his masterpiece. He has created you to do good. And that work He has began in you? He will complete it. Amen.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. – Ephesians 2:10 NLT

 


Thank you everyone who shared your stories of grief and joy on my blog two weeks ago. You blessed me with your truth.

The Winner of Fight Back with Joy is Lynnae McCoy. Congratulations, Lynnae!

 

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Why I’m Grateful I Screw Up

The Way of Gratitude: Day 6 (originally posted here)way of gratitude (2)

Reading this, I remember why I’m naming our dog Gracie. Grace is amazing. In the full sense of that word.

Last night, I didn’t post about gratitude. I didn’t feel it. I was worn out from lots of housework, only to find that the hose from the washing machine fell to the floor during a load yesterday causing the laundry room to be soaking wet.

Not. Fun.

As I cleaned up the mess at 10:15 pm, I recited to myself, “Be grateful. You have a washer and dryer. Be grateful.” And I was for a moment, as I remembered walking up and down three flights of stairs to use machines across the courtyard from our apartment 7 years ago…

But I didn’t want to write about that.

I was feeling tired, whiny, and stressed when I went to bed.

And this morning… I woke up with a sense of guilt.

“I didn’t blog. I didn’t follow through on my commitment. I wasn’t grateful enough. I haven’t done enough to… to…” To do what? Oh that’s right, it comes down to this: “I haven’t done enough to please God.” Yup.

My entire life I feel I’ve been running around trying to do the right thing to make God happy. Because, maybe if I don’t sin, things would go well for me. Because maybe if I did things right, I would have his approval. Because maybe if  I was perfect on my own, he wouldn’t have had to die for me.

That is such a backwards expression of Christianity, yet it is one that is incredibly prevalent in a society that for years has used the church as a place to learn how to live moral lives. The Church is no longer a place to receive grace, but often a place to just receive a message on how to “do it better.” Completely focused on behavior. Not on the message of the cross.

What’s been forgotten is what Paul said to the Galatians who were backtracking to follow the Law instead of living in the New Covenant of Grace.

You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. (Galatians 5:4 TNIV)

Nothing we do is good enough. And, conversely, if we try to save ourselves by doing good things, we alienate ourselves from Christ and his grace.

To be a Christian is to believe that it is through Christ’s death, his sacrifice ALONE, that we are saved and to give up all attempts to be good enough. To be a Christian is to confess, “I cannot do it on my own. God, forgive me. Help me.” And to be a Christian is to receive God’s forgiveness.

But when we try to be good enough with our own striving, we are strapping the rules and regulations of the law back on our backs like backpacks full of bricks. We have in effect rejected Christ’s work on the cross when we try to be good enough.

My writing this blog or not, my “being the best I can be,” my efforts that eventually fail… these things are all covered by God’s love. That is true grace. Forgiveness when we fail and have nothing to offer.

My not blogging last night producing such feelings of guilt is obviously an overreaction, but I am grateful for that feeling, because I was reminded that what I do or don’t do won’t affect my standing with God. I am his child. Period.

What I do or don't do won't affect my

I am eternally grateful that I don’t have to strive to make it up. God has already forgiven me of anything wrong I could possibly do.

Yes, I’m grateful for Grace.

I hope I’ve made it clear why.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1 TNIV)

How this Perfectionist is Picking Herself Up (Hint: It’s not on her own)

I am a perfectionist.

A perfectionist who doesn’t want to do anything wrong, fears others showing me my failures, and who is constantly aware of what I could do better. I am tempted to define myself by my behavior, my finished to do list, or my perfect children who eat, sleep, and produce according to my plan for them.

But I am not perfect, so my head rails against me to try harder while my heart is breaking under the pressure of the “Perfect Mama” facade I have so carefully crafted. And my children do not have the same plans that I do, so they continue to spit out their carrots, pop out of bed to talk about our furniture (“Is that your couch?” “Yes.” “Ok!”), and fight me on any order I try to create in our lives. The clash of my plans with theirs produces anger and frustration that only leaves us all in tears instead of changing anything.

Because shame never changes anything.

So when Jesus asked me to preach this week on my perfectionism, to admit my failures, and to point others to Him, I truthfully did not feel up to it. Days later when people are telling me it was my best sermon yet, I still do not feel up to it. I continue to identify myself not with Him, but with my own behaviors, works, accomplishments.

I need a reminder of who Christ says I am. Maybe you do to.

“In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Gal 3:26-27)

In Christ we are “dead to sin, but alive to God.” (Romas 6:11)

There is no condemnation for those who are In Christ. (Rom 8:1)

In Christ we have been made holy. (Phil 1:1)

In Christ, we are sanctified (1 Cor 1:2),

In Christ we are made alive (1 Cor 15:22),

In Christ we are brought to fullness, completeness. (Col 2:10)

In Christ, we have freedom (Gal 2:4).

In Christ, we can stand firm. (2 Cor 1:21)

In Christ we are brought near to God by the blood of Christ. (Eph 2:13)

In Christ, we are all children of God (Gal 3:26).

In Christ, we are forgiven (4:32)

In Christ, our hearts and minds are guarded by the peace of God (Phil 4:7)

In Christ we have peace (1 Peter 5:14),

In Christ we have faith, and love (1 Tim 1:14).

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

 

-Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the

The Old is Gone.

The New Creation has come.

I am blown away by the truth that God has not abandoned me to my failures – real or perceived. That God is healing my hurts, pouring Himself into me, so that I can be made clean. That forgiveness is a daily possibility and that I can always begin again. And that I am always, in all things, clothed in Christ. He has never left me and will never leave me.

I know this is not my best writing, but this is not about me, today. This is about Jesus. And you. You who maybe need as much truth as I do. Let’s walk In Christ together, shall we?

I Turned Towards My Father, Repentant in Front of my Children

As I put my children to bed for the night, apologies were in order. They did not listen well, this is true. They also did not deserve the level of anger and frustration that came their way from their worn mama who was just trying to keep it all together.

As we finished up in the bathroom, I asked my son to pray for me. He repeated his daily plea that he does not know how and stated that I should pray for me.

He was right. I needed to go before my Father, and he needed to witness it.

So I asked for forgiveness. I asked for grace. And as my son climbed into bed, I asked for mercy.

“What’s mercy?”

“Mercy is help in your time of need. It is love from God to get you through. Mercy is goodness and grace and forgiveness… Jack means God is gracious,” I add.

“So, when you’re yelling at me: Jack!!! you’re saying God is gracious?”

The thought lingers. “Yes.”

giggles

“Do you forgive me?”

“Yes.”

“Ben, do you forgive me?”

nods.

I shut out the light, collapse on the couch and as I repeat my cry to God for his forgiveness in the hypocrisy of my life, the blessing from ages past wells up in my heart, tears dampen my eyes. I finally turn and rest in Him.

Numbers 6_24-26

 

May His blessing, His face be turned towards you, tonight.

This post is part of the larger Five Minute Friday community found on Kate Motaung’s blog. We write, for five minutes, together. No major edits. No second guesses, just writing to connect, to grow, to be. Today’s writing prompt: Turn.

Leah: A Ragamuffin

Day 14 of 31 Days of Connecting

The other night Tim and I watched “Ragamuffin,” a movie about the life of the musician Rich Mullins.

As Tim and I watched Rich meet with Brennan Manning and as Brennan Manning taught Rich about God’s love for the first time I was brought back to my seat in Bethel’s Great Hall as Brennan Manning (I can’t write his name without saying first and last, it’s just impossible!) taught me about God’s love. It was as if I had never been taught the gospel before. In tears I purchased the book, got in line for an autograph, and asked the elderly man for a hug. Surprised, he did.

I went back to my room trying to wrap my head around such words as “grace” and tried to actually accept that it was for me. I tried to grasp “forgiveness” and kept repeating the phrase: “You shouldn’t should on yourself”… just trying to make it stick.

That was 13 years ago.

I still forget. 

I still try to win God’s favor. I still try to be perfect. I still try to live as if I don’t sin, denying the sins I do commit, and harming my ability to connect with others in the process.

Because I believe to be connected with your true self is to understand yourself as a sinner who is saved by the marvelous grace of Jesus.

No more masks. No more facades. But face to face with the harsh truth that but for Christ’s death on the cross, I would be lost.

He didn’t want to lose me.

And because of this grace, I am free to live as I truly am. When I see my sin, I can confess it, find forgiveness, and be equipped to live without it.

This is such a long process. Life-long. Though we can experience great healing and wholeness I don’t believe anyone ever experiences complete holiness in this life – no one except Jesus of course.

And so, we continue to fall back on God’s amazing, extravagant, prodigal, glorious, humbling grace until we see Him face to face.

And then we will truly live.

Please watch this two minute video of a piece of a Brennan Manning sermon. It could change your life.

15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16

The Way of Gratefulness; Day 6 – Grace

Last night, I didn’t post about gratitude. I didn’t feel it. I was worn out from lots of housework, only to find that the hose from the washing machine fell to the floor during a load yesterday causing the laundry room to be soaking wet.

Not. Fun.

As I cleaned up the mess at 10:15 pm, I recited to myself, “Be grateful. You have a washer and dryer. Be grateful.” And I was for a moment, as I remembered walking up and down three flights of stairs to use machines across the court yard from our apartment 7 years ago…

But I didn’t want to write about that.

I was feeling tired, whiny, and stressed when I went to bed.

And this morning… I woke up with a sense of guilt.

“I didn’t blog. I didn’t follow through on my commitment. I wasn’t grateful enough. I haven’t done enough to… to…” To do what? Oh that’s right, it comes down to this: “I haven’t done enough to please God.” Yup.

My entire life I feel I’ve been running around trying to do the right thing to make God happy. Because, maybe if I don’t sin, things would go well for me. Because maybe if I did things right, I would have his approval. Because maybe if  I was perfect on my own, he wouldn’t have had to die for me.

That is such a backwards expression of Christianity, yet it is one that is incredibly prevalent in a society that for years has used the church as a place to learn how to live moral lives. The Church is no longer a place to receive grace, but often a place to just receive a message on how to “do it better.” Completely focused on behavior. Not on the message of the cross.

What’s been forgotten is what Paul said to the Galatians who were backtracking to follow the Law instead of living in the New Covenant of Grace.

You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. (Galatians 5:4 TNIV)

Nothing we do is good enough. And, conversely, if we try to save ourselves by doing good things, we alienate ourselves from Christ and his grace.

To be a Christian is to believe that it is through Christ’s death, his sacrifice ALONE, that we are saved and to give up all attempts to be good enough. To be a Christian is to confess, “I cannot do it on my own. God, forgive me. Help me.” And to be a Christian is to receive God’s forgiveness.

But when we try to be good enough with our own striving, we are strapping the rules and regulations of the law back on our backs like backpacks full of bricks. We have in effect rejected Christ’s work on the cross when we try to be good enough.

My writing this blog or not, my “being the best I can be,” my efforts that eventually fail… these things are all covered by God’s love. That is true grace. Forgiveness when we fail and have nothing to offer.

My not blogging last night producing such feelings of guilt is obviously an overreaction to what is not a “deadly sin,” but I am grateful for that feeling, because I was reminded that what I do or don’t do won’t affect my standing with God. I am his child. Period. I am eternally grateful that I don’t have to strive to make it up. God has already forgiven me of anything wrong I could possibly do.

Yes, I’m grateful for Grace.

I hope I’ve made it clear why.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1 TNIV)