Let’s Talk About Shame, Bay-bee

I’m going to get Christian for a second, because I am a Christian, and Christians do that. Read this amazing part of Ephesians about shame:

“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.'”

So, first off, we have all taken part in things we shouldn’t have. It’s part of being human. If you’re like me, there are stories of things you’ve done from kindergarten up that you’d prefer be left between you and God. There are also stories of things that have been done to you by others that you would prefer to keep hidden. Why? Because it’s embarrassing! It’s shameful! And we’ve all been working pretty hard at forming a perception we’d like people to hold us in. If anyone found out about the bad stuff, well, they wouldn’t think of us the same anymore. If we begin to process the bad stuff in our lives, it might be hard to keep moving through life afterwards.

However, carrying around our shameful stories is a burden. It hinders us from truly being ourselves and liking ourselves. It holds us back from really being alive.

When we uncover and process WITH SOMEONE WE TRUST the things we have kept hidden in the dark, they become visible. You’re not the only one who knows. That thing has now officially been revealed and can no longer fester and plague you. It has gone from darkness to the light of day.

Paul wrote in Ephesians, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

Christ shining on you, is you receiving life and freedom! One shameful story at a time. You were not created to walk around carrying a burden of shame. You were created to experience the joy of a life with God.

Most people choose to live in shame because it’s comfortable. Misery can become a nice companion, but it will hold you in darkness and lead you through a life of confusion and discontentment. Until we ask God for the courage to bring our stuff to light, we are walking through life dead. That’s an eery thought. I can say from experience on both sides that it’s true.

Bringing my shameful stories to light is scary and painful, but the feeling of freedom and a fresh start afterwards, is beyond expression. If there is something in your life plaguing you and holding you in darkness, bring it to the light. When it’s brought to the light, Christ will shine on you and you will be changed forever.

Fear of Success

Fear of Success

This year, my goals consist of some health things, some emotional recoveries I’d like to process, and some tangible, deadline-kind-of goals. One of my tangible goals is to get published. I’ve focused in on a family-geared book and this past weekend I handed my first draft over to someone whose opinion really matters to me. He could possibly even help me move this project forward.

When I first wrote out this goal and my first step towards making it a reality, it seemed like an awesome, bold idea. Halfway towards the weekend, it started seeming like an exhaustive project with no end. One day away from presenting my first draft to someone important… I was terrified.

Usually, I’ve sabotaged myself by then. Since I didn’t quit, a daily inner discussion with myself began about when the proper time for sabotage will be.

Is it when it comes time to print out my manuscript? Will I just not? Or will it be when I arrive to present my book? Will I keep it in my bag and pretend it never happened? Will I regret going forward with the whole thing if he looks at it with a tired expression or one of indifference? Maybe I don’t want to know what the reaction to my hard work will be to a person I highly respect that hardly knows me… Maybe this whole thing is a bad idea. I’m not a great writer anyways. Why would people want to read my stuff? Why would a publisher want to publish my stuff?

It’s all very frightening.

However, this time I knew I was different. I’d been in recovery for two years. I coached myself.

I will push through my fears and just do. Not everyone is meant to be famous but I know God made everyone with a purpose. He made everyone with gifts uniquely designed to glorify Him. Since I was a kid, I have loved reading, writing, and drawing. It’s how I express myself. I believe it’s how God has designed me to glorify and praise Him. I enjoy it and it’s come to my realization that using our gifts for God is not a suggestion but a must. He must be glorified.

Knowing that my goal was God’s glory made each action easier. It wasn’t about me. It was about Him.

The handoff of my manuscript was pretty anticlimactic — but it happened. The fact that I stuck to my goal was a huge victory for me. I’m not doing scary things in life for myself… it’s not worth it. I’m doing it for God. He gave me the gifts and He will orchestrate them to be used in His time to spread His truth to whoever needs to hear it. His truth. I live my life by it and for it. There’s nothing better.

Here’s to kicking fear of success out the window in 2017!

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Recovering from codependency comes with a lot of discovery and freedom in new areas of life. Part of my recovery has involved surrendering my people pleasing and fear of failure when it comes to the talents God has given me. I love to write, sing, and illustrate but most of my life I’ve kept these to myself due to negative thinking and fear.

Slowly this has begun to change. I no longer want to keep my gifts to myself. It is through these gifts that God has granted me the joy to praise Him. My life’s goal is to honor God and glorify Him. One of my professors in seminary, described praise in this way, “In the Old Testament culture, the word used in place of thanks was praise. That is, one would tell another what God had done, rather than merely saying, ‘Thank You, Lord.'” (Allen, Ronald B., And I Will Praise Him, pg. 64.) When I keep my methods of praise to myself, it’s hard for it to actually be praise. No one gets to experience the goodness of God but me!

In honor of God, recovery, and challenging my fears, I’ll be adding a new category to my blog called, For the Positive Thinker. This category will help those who struggle with negative thinking to replace those false accusations with truth. Scripture memory is a good way to begin storing up truth in your mind and heart so that you’ll have an arsenal prepared when negativity starts creeping in. The way I memorize scripture is through song. I can never remember scriptures if I memorize them in spoken word. They never stick. If you have the same issue, I invite you to take the songs I post and use them to help you begin to treasure God’s word in your heart, and at times more crucially, in your mind when obsessive or negative thinking kicks in.

In the spirit of the holidays, I’m going to start this new category of the blog off with a Christmas Carol. Do You Hear What I Hear is one of my favorite carols and I think it holds relevancy to recovering codependents. The last verse of the song proclaims, “He will bring us goodness and light.” Jesus came to the world and became the light of men that shines in the darkness. Jesus is the Word. Every time you place God’s word in your memory, think about the light that is entering into your body and removing the darkness. Every day as you pursue God and place His word in your heart, you can see more and more how free you are in Him.

Enjoy and have a Merry Christmas!

Day Ten: Fear of Success

Day Ten: Fear of Success

Since starting a new job, I have discovered a character defect that has followed me through school,  jobs, and probably relationships: fear of success. Fear of success is a sabotaging of a relationship, idea, project, or responsibility that could bring you happiness, success, or accolades.

This has played out in my life in so many ways I could write a 3 set volume on it. I believe it harms me because the fear does not allow me to see my full potential. I have a lot of dreams about my potential but reality has been pretty disappointing in comparison.

I’ve done some awesome things in life: travel, get my bachelors and masters, work for a church, dance with Bruce Springsteen; date (because dating is totally awesome…). But was I really present? Fear of success is harmful because it keeps us from seeing who we truly are.

When I think about the things I have done, I can remember the overlying obsession I had with a fantasy that wasn’t coming to pass and the procrastination that held me back from my best. After being in recovery for almost two years now, I can see clearly the difference between being in reality versus a fantasy.

Dreaming was safer because it meant I couldn’t fail. So, I guess along with a fear of success comes a fear of failure. I have always done just enough to get by and stay out of trouble. I do have regrets because of that but I understand everything happens for a reason. God wouldn’t let me stay in the dream. Thankfully, He has brought me to reality and it is an adventure!

In reality, I pursue my dreams to see if there’s any credibility to them. I work hard every day and ask God for strength and energy when I don’t have it. I process my gross emotions and work through them faster than I ever thought possible.

Living below your potential because of fear robs others of truly getting to know you and benefitting from the gifts God has given you. It’s easy in this broken world to shy away from our strengths and live in the wonderful land of “one day.”

Living life in reality is hard because you have to face the desire to run from your potential, but God is here to remove the fear and replace it with courage and excitement. It’s time to walk away from the fantasy.