I almost said no to co-facilitating Living from the Heart next year because it makes me uncomfortable at times. I’ve told you how it tosses me about. I don’t like feeling anxious that I’ll do something wrong or fearing the sting of messing up. Yet, when I was at the intensive this fall and experienced those feelings again, although they were uncomfortable, I survived. The world didn’t come to an end, and I was able to recognize that whatever “mistakes” I did make could be used–like everything else–for God’s glory.
I returned from Living from the Heart with energy and lightness, a deeper trust in God and more affection for my co-facilitators.
Not long afterwards, we met on Skype to debrief our week together. We welcomed each other warmly, began with silence and prayer, and checked in. Then we held the question: What stood out for you as a gift or a challenge during the intensive–or in our team?
I was fine until I heard the last three words. I felt myself go cold and a little ball of panic gathered in my chest. Would I hear that I had hurt my friends or let them down in some way? I bit my lip and focused on my breathing for a moment. I could trust that their kindness and love was real.
We shared many things we were grateful for. I can’t remember any challenges that were voiced that I needed to be concerned about. After the video call, I noticed I was tired. The ball of panic had eased, but I could still feel it. I gave it some space and realized it was shame. Now the uncomfortable feelings that toss me about have a name.
It’s shame that makes me want to avoid whatever or whoever triggers it. Yet, I have never felt shamed by my colleagues.
As I held that feeling of shame, I knew I didn’t need to be afraid of them or the situations that trigger it. It’s an irrational reaction tied to past experiences when I felt betrayed by people I trusted. Besides, I know what it’s like when the shoe’s on the other foot and what I’ve said causes someone else to feel ashamed while I feel nothing but love for them.
Yet shame’s spell can be strong. It must be ten years ago now that I ended a friendship because every time I was with a certain person, I felt bad about myself. Despite the fact that no one else who knew the woman had a bad thing to say about her, I was convinced that she was the source of my shame. That’s how real it can feel. It has taken me this long to realize it isn’t true.
Shame’s spell has been broken. Maybe not completely. But because Jesus pulled me into that uncomfortable place and pushed me out of it, it doesn’t have the power over me it used to.
God reached all the way
from sky to sea; he pulled me out
of that ocean of hate…
He stood me up on a wide-open field;
I stood there saved—surprised to be loved!
–Psalm 18:16,19 (MSG)
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I was saddened to hear that beloved pastor and author of The Message (and many other books), Eugene Peterson, has entered hospice care. Here is a video of Bono and Eugene made in 2016. They talk about how the Psalms help us pray honestly.