Do you feel worthy of love and belonging?
Brene Brown (and others) have unearthed a topic that is making me squirm. Shame.
I’m both fascinated by it and repelled. Do I feel worthy of love and belonging right now? Today? The more shame I feel the less I connect with people. That’s what really hurts, so I thought it would be worth digging into.
It’s not because I like pain but rather that a part of me projects the future from the present fairly well and I’m worried about it. I think we have the potential here to address something that torpedoes relationships in the worst way, and I deal with relationships all the time. In fact, we all do. So far, so good? Here we go…
I have watched people I love the most in my life, people I am highly invested in, people I bleed with, people I laugh with wrestle with long term shame. I have seen it so many times that the pain it used to cause me turned into a dull ache, then into a deep sense of inevitability (and someone like me never feels that way), into… that most dangerous of all emotions for me….boredom.
It drove me to a place where I no longer cared to even try to change it. It took about 15 years to break me but it finally happened last year. It lasted about a year and it wasn’t pretty.
This is what shame does: it kills every highlight moment and it always hits when you’re down. Always. The real issues of life work out to around 5% of the pain while the shame baggage and rejection about 95%. Just my personal experience.. One issue triggers many others until it’s so complicated and muddy that you just want to quit.
If you’re reading and every high point of your life is shaded by something, and every low point somehow gets lower, you either experience shame or are living with someone who does.
I didn’t read that in a book, I’ve experienced it. I wish I hadn’t.
Shame tells you you’re not good enough to feel worthy of love and belonging (Brene Brown). Guilt, however, can be quite positive. Shame says “You are a liar”, Guilt says “You lied”. Guilt is a great motivator for owning your mistakes and changing your behaviour. Shame destroys the part of you that can change.
How to separate what we do from who we are? If you won’t consider it for you, please consider it for the people who live with you. You’re not the only one picking up the tab, but you know that already don’t you?
If that statement made you feel dirty, you experience shame. And that’s ok. I did it for a reason. Please listen to me…
What if I told you that you could really live? You already know the feeling of going through life afraid people will find you out, but that’s not living is it? “If I lose 20 pounds I would feel good about myself” “If I hadn’t done that I would accept myself” “If he didn’t do that to me I wouldn’t feel unworthy”
The long and short of it is… people who feel worthy of love and belonging only feel that way because they believe they are worthy of love and belonging. “But how I feel shapes how I think and how I act!”? Actually NO it doesn’t. How you think shapes how you feel and you act out of that. It’s a very common mistake but its correction in our lives lends itself to the very real possibility that “I can change how I think and therefore change how I feel and act”, which means there is a way out of destructive feelings and behaviour. There is a light at the end of the tunnel!
So Jesus goes to church (synagogue) one day and sees a man with a crippled hand. It was the Sabbath day.
The religious leaders in church that day watched Him closely to see if He would transgress their traditions (addendums they made to the laws God gave them through Moses) by healing the man. God told them they needed a day of rest every week for worship and reflection which should not look like their ordinary working day. They “helped” God out by adding rules so they wouldn’t break the real rules. Not a great idea. (I’ve watched loads of parents do the same thing. It never turns out well and their kids eventually leave church).
3 Players. Jesus. Crippled Man. Critics.
Jesus was watching the man with the defect. There is little doubt that this man lived with shame. A prevalent religious thought of the day was that if you were crippled or diseased or blind from birth (remember that story?) that either you were a sinner or your parents sinned. Your defect was somebody’s fault. And once a scapegoat was identified everyone else could relax and not lift a finger to help.
Jesus tells the man to stand up. Then he tells him to stretch out his hand. That’s it. Those were two things the man with the addiction/sin/shortcoming/weakness… sorry, I forgot who I was talking about… crippled, defective hand didn’t want to do. You hide defects. You feel bad about them. You feel bad about who you are because of them.
Jesus looks at the critics hoping to catch Him transgressing their fake law and hammers them with a question: “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?”. They wouldn’t answer Him. Then it says “He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.” (Mark 3)
Shame needs three things to grow: 1. Secrecy. 2. Silence. 3. Judgement. Secrecy: the crippled man who tries to hide the defect. Silence: the religious leaders who refused to answer or acknowledge Jesus’ strong reminder of why God’s law existed in the first place (to do good and bring life to people). Judgement: they would rather the man remain in his state of great shame and judge the only one trying to do anything about it.
Wait, the man’s defect, his shame, his condition didn’t distress Jesus? Not at all. And yours doesn’t either. He accepted you before you were born. You were worthy of love and belonging before you got here. Before you betrayed that person you loved. Before they did that to you. Before the defects.
I need to say here that Jesus risked death to do this thing for the crippled man. His enemies immediately plotted how to kill him because of this deed. They eventually succeeded. He thought it was worth it to bring life to one man with shame.
3 Players. Pick one? I’ll start it out for you… Jesus (you can’t be Him. He’s taken already). The Crippled Man. The Critic. There are two types of critics. Others and yourself. Guess which one is worse?
2 Players to pick from.
Here is an amazing quote from Theodore Roosevelt.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
It’s time to climb down into the arena.
Would you come on a journey with me that will change your life?
Want to watch the message? http://vimeo.com/97073180