It has been almost an entire 2 years since I’ve even logged into this website. I’ve thought about it here and there, from activity to activity, from meeting to meeting, during those few minutes between Netflix episodes.
We feel such shame when we are absent. Been absent from the gym? Shame. What is it that keeps us from putting on the tennis shoes and getting on the treadmill? Shame. Embarrassment. All the feels of failure to commit.
What is it that keeps us from responding to texts from that friend we let fall off our radar? Shame. Embarrassment over a failure to commit.
I’ve let my commitment here go. And there is shame and embarrassment in returning. I’ve made additional agreements with myself in regards to personal goals and endeavors that I’ve also let go. And there is shame and embarrassment there, too (and I’m the only one who knows about them)!
Shame is a powerful tool. It causes us to sink into further distance, further loathing, further inactivity, and additional absence. What was a month between conversations with that friend becomes 2, 3 months, and then an entire year. One busy week that interrupts our exercise routine easily becomes 3 years of gym payments and an increase in 3 pants sizes. The more time that passes, the more shame and guilt pile on. It’s like that pile of mail and papers that need to be filed on the counter. The longer we let that pile grow, the harder it is to sit down and deal with it. It’s a form of condemnation that makes goals, healthy practices, dreams, and communities die.
We cannot be or do anything under the self-condemnation of shame. I mean, at least be or do anything good.
The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree from Luke 13:6-9
6 And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ 8 And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. 9 Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”
When we are being ruled by shame, we want to just cut it all down. We want to strike it and start over. We would rather go shopping for a new and larger wardrobe than put down the donut and squeeze into our yoga pants. We want to light a match to the pile of mail instead of painstakingly deal with it. We’d rather torch the tree than spend the time tending it.
Shame leads to rash decisions and conclusions.
Wisdom leads to researching brands of manure.
Shame leads to harsh endings.
Grace leads to dirty hands and sore knees, and another year of waiting for good fruit.
Shames entangles our hearts and actions, leaving us paralyzed in a cycle of absence.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
Let’s throw off the shame, the condemnation, the embarrassment that weighs us down. We’ve got ditches to dig, manure to spread, and papers to file. There is joy set before us. I’m not quite sure what “joy” looks like for me or you. But I really do think it’s there…if we show up. I think it might resemble “having life to the full”.
Let’s dive into the potentially awkward conversations that force us to face our failure to follow-through. Let’s get over ourselves and what people might think of us because we haven’t done that thing we said we were going to do. Let’s just do it.
It will be hard. It might get messy. But let’s despise the shame and show it who’s boss.
No more absence. No more putting things off. No more easy outs. No more burn piles.
I so love reading your thoughts, Angie! It helps me to accept where I am and find God in all of it.
Thinking of You and Family Prayerfully,