Struck Down but Not Destroyed by Shame

struck down but not destroyed by shameI started this post a couple of weeks ago with the title It’s OK to Need and Ask for Help. I planned to write on how we can’t do parenting alone and how it’s good to ask people for help when we need a break. I often get overwhelmed with motherhood, and I wanted to encourage others that it’s ok not to be able to be and do everything all the time.

I thought I had beat shame in that area. I had come to the point where I was able to send out an SOS text without becoming overrun with guilt. But shame is sneaky.

The truth is we do need help from others, but what I didn’t realize at that time was how powerful shame can be when we can’t get help, when we ask but no one is available.

It happened to me the other day. Out of desperation from a rough morning I sent out a text. My friend wasn’t available but asked if everything was ok. When I had to explain why I needed help, shame flooded over me like a tidal wave and left me feeling exposed and needy. The conversation wasn’t intended to bring shame, but that’s what shame does, that’s what the enemy does. He takes what is innocent and turns it against us.

The accusations rang loud in my head-

Grace, you can’t handle the kids on your own?? What kind of mother outsources her kids? How many times have you asked already? Are you really that desperate? It’s just sad. Suck it up and mother your children like you’re supposed to. Don’t be ridiculous. 

Shame made me want to melt away and disappear forever or build up walls and never ask for help again. She tried to convince me that I didn’t need others, that I just needed to be stronger, better, more self-sufficient. She tried to convince me that vulnerability wasn’t worth the risk of rejection, that it would be better to pretend to have it all together than invite others into the mess.

I’m working through it. I’m reminding myself that I’m covered by Him, that I’m safe in Him. I don’t have to be tossed back and forth by shame because my identity isn’t tied to what I do and how well I do it. No, I am who I am in Christ and that is enough. I can rest in His sufficiency, in His strength, and shame has no ultimate power over me or you. We may get struck down, but we will not be destroyed.

Feeling Miss-y and Embracing Vulnerability

Feeling Miss-y Embracing VulnerabilityEverything’s back to normal. My sister, who was with us for two weeks, is back to teaching on the other side of the world, and my closest friend from here is now living a wonderfully tree-filled life in Oregon. The guest room is clean again. We have the afternoons to ourselves again. It’s quieter, emptier, and lonelier.

I miss them. I miss the fullness of things. There’s too much space, too much silence. I want the house to be filled up again. I want to hear the comforting murmur of conversations, the easy laughs, the sounds happy and full hearts. WHY HASN’T SOMEONE INVENTED TELEPORTATION SO I CAN BRING ALL MY BELOVEDS TOGETHER IN ONE PLACE?? I thought goodbyes would get easier over time, but I’ve been sitting here in a funk for the past few days and I’m thinking it gets harder as I get older and not the other way around.

The end of good things always leaves me feeling incomplete, as if a part of me has been left behind or taken away and there’s nothing I can do about it. I’d like to think that I’m good at being ok with it, that I’m strong enough to move on, that I can deal on my own, but the truth is I’m not. I’m not strong. I’m not ok. There’s an aching gape in my gut (I call it “feeling miss-y”), and I’m not going to run away from it. I’m not going to crack jokes and make light of the situation like I usually do. I’m going to let myself feel its full impact and cry.

I remember at the end of one family trip we were getting ready to say goodbye at the airport gate, and I told myself not to cry, not to give in. I knew if one person started crying it would create a chain reaction, so I geared up to be funny, to make everyone laugh. I wanted to shield myself and them from the sadness of parting ways without knowing when we’d see each other again. Who doesn’t feel better when they laugh, right? But as we hugged one another, the familiar ache built up in my gut to my heart, to my throat and erupted into tears.

I’m slowly breaking down my defense mechanisms. I’m learning to be ok with not having to make things better in the moment, to make everyone feel better at the moment. I’m giving myself permission to feel sad, to feel miss-y, and to stay there. There’s nothing to prove by acting strong, so I’m embracing vulnerability and believing it will strengthen me to live fully alive.