This last weekend I attended my 3rd annual WayPoint Summit for Christian Life Coaches, Spiritual Directors and Transformational Workers in Breckenridge, CO.
The theme was Live. Shame. Free.
It was a "jarringly beautiful and healing" time for me...as well as for others. In empathetic community--free of fixing and "get well quick" blurts--we graced one another with listening prayer, acceptance, safety, and freedom. In messy imperfection. And it was not only "okay", but redeeming. The light shone in. Beyond words...
Reminded me of something I wrote a while back. (See in the right hand column) Do you identify with it on any level? How has shame affected you?
“You shouldn’t feel that way” or “You’re not tired. Your sister still has energy.” or “We can’t stop for a bathroom break now. You don’t have to go that bad, anyway” or even “You should pray like your cousin does.”
Comments like these may sound familiar. Perhaps you’ve been shamed into doubting your emotions, perceptions, desires or needs, causing you to lose your sense of individuality.
“Each of us is surrounded by external sources of shame. These vary, of course,” write David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen in The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse. “Families where people are called names or compared, or where parents have their needs met by the performance of the children, instill messages of shame in their members.” The authors contend that even billboards, magazine ads and television commercials shame us by promising ways to make us more valuable, lovable or capable.
As wise God-seekers, we can cease sacrificing who we are for the sake of another’s ego-needs or our own desire for protection from negative reaction. Although God has unlimited power, He never victimizes us to prove it. Instead, He treats us with respect and love. He’s worth trusting—even imperfectly.
Lord, I think I’ve allowed others and their opinions to make my decisions for me. I don’t want to do that anymore. Instead I want to enter into authentic, freedom-producing and shame-decreasing relationships with safe people who trust and love You. It seems a little risky. (Who am I kidding?) It's a lot risky. I'm leaning into You for help.
Joan C. Webb
Writing, teaching, coaching to empower and set free.