Monday, April 29, 2013

Why Shame is Destructive But Guilt is Creative

By Dr. Kelly Flanagan on Apr 24, 2013 04:30 am

The difference between shame and guilt may be the difference between never really living

On a Friday morning, my three-year-old daughter was drawing me a picture with a colored pencil. Her face was screwed up with concentration, nose crinkled, dimples lopsided. She let out a big-dramatic sigh and said, “I made a mistake; I need to erase it.”

I tried not to laugh as I looked at the random loops and swirls of abstract toddlerhood and wondered to myself, “Honey, how can chaos contain mistakes?”

But I fetched an eraser anyway, and she started to rub. However, colored pencil doesn’t erase—it smudges. So she rubbed harder. And the “mistake” got worse and worse.

And worse.

She flung down her pencil and began to tear the paper to shreds.

I don’t think my daughter was feeling ashamed about her drawing—I think she was being a three-year-old. Yet, on a Friday morning, I think she gave me an image of the way shame destroys us:

Shame is like the crummy pencil eraser of life—it mires us in an endless, hopeless effort to erase our mistakes. And it tears up our lives in the process.

Destructive Shame…

Shame is the “you’re not good enough” lie seductively whispering at the edge of our fragile souls. It convinces us our mistakes and shortcomings and failures and faults are who we are. It convinces us we need to erase our mistakes and our mess if we are to be worthy of love and belonging.

So we spend our life mired in depressive regrets about words and actions and days and years we wish we could take back. Or we spend our nights in anxious rumination about how everyone reacted when we said this or did that. We quietly beat ourselves up and wish for a do-over.

But the truth is, our mistakes are written in the colored pencil of time—time can’t be reversed and our mistakes can’t be erased.

There are no do-overs.

Yet shame keeps us stuck in this endless cycle of hopeless attempts to erase or hide our history and ourselves. It immobilizes us. It shuts us down. And in doing so, it can destroy a life—one paralyzed day at a time.

But there is another way.

…Creative Guilt

The way out of our shame is not to erase our mistakes. The way out of our shame is to feel guilty about them.

Guilt is shame redeemed by grace.

Shame tells us we are lousy. Guilt tells us we did something lousy.

Shame whispers, “Your mistakes define you.” But guilt proclaims, “We are defined by redemption, not by transgressions.”

Whereas shame seeks to hide the past, guilt claims the past.

Shame says you are corrupt and rotten and weak and powerless and you should hide because anything you do will be another failure. But guilt says, “Yes, I messed up. I’m guilty as charged. But my mess doesn’t define me. And because it doesn’t define me, I can do something different now.”

Shame looks backward interminably. Guilt glances backward and then moves forward.

Shame coerces us into passivity. Guilt propels us into action.

Shame buries our mistakes. Guilt apologizes for them.

Shame disconnects us from people. Guilt propels us into the arms of people.

Shame is a lie we swallow. Guilt is the truth we tell.

Shame is the death of us. Guilt is the beginning of a resurrection.

The Blank Page

As my daughter began to sink to the floor on the verge of a meltdown, I suggested, “Instead of erasing that picture, how about you draw me another one?”

She stopped mid-tantrum, crumpled paper in hand, and a smile evened out her dimples a bit.

I pointed at her big stack of blank papers and said, “You can draw me a bunch of new ones.”

I wonder if redemptive guilt is really just the voice of grace, whispering quietly to us, “Hush, little one. Quit trying so hard to erase and hide the past. You’re learning and growing and every time you mess up and try again, let’s rejoice. So put that eraser away, own your mistakes, and let’s try again, even if it’s a glorious mess.”

My daughter looked at me, bounced to her feet, and attacked a new blank page with abandon.

Drawing Redemptive Pictures With Our Lives

In life, we can listen to our shame—we can focus on all of our mistakes and we can get hopelessly bogged down in trying to analyze them, erase them, justify them, or hide them.

Or we can approach every day like a new sheet of paper. The size of the stack is different for each of us, of course—our remaining days are all differently numbered.

But if we have only a single page on our stack—only one day remaining to live—we have one blank page on which to draw a new, redemptive picture of our lives.

We can draw pictures of courage and vulnerability.

We can draw pictures of apology and forgiveness.

We can draw picture of love and sacrifice.

Today is a new day. Today is our blank page. Today is pregnant with the possibility of a new picture, a redemptive event, a beautiful love.

What will we do with today’s blank page?


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Over planning...

Since I am a planner, and struggle with self-condemnation & shame, the following devotional from Jesus Calling (Sarah Young, 2004) really spoke to me today..... Bro. Rob

April 24

Rest in the stillness of My Presence while I prepare you for this day.  Let the radiance of My Glory shine upon you, as you wait on Me in confident trust.  Be still and know that I am God.  There is both a passive and an active side to trusting Me.  I quietly build bonds of trust between us.  When you respond to the circumstances of your life with affirmations of trust, you actively participate in this process.

I am always with you, so you have no reason to be afraid.  Your fear often manifests itself in excessive planning.  Your mind is so accustomed to this pattern of thinking that you are only now becoming aware of how pervasive it is and how much it hinders your intimacy with Me.  Repent of this tendency and resist it, whenever you realize you are wandering down this well-worn path.  Return to My Presence, which always awaits you in the present moment.  I accept you back with no condemnations. Psalm 46:10; Romans 8:1

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Real Graduation

Hey Partners & Friends,

I remember my high school graduation. It should have been a celebration of successful effort, progress and significant accomplishment. But in my case and unfortunately many others it was just an event that marked the end of my formal education, and the surprise that somehow I had managed to get a diploma. It was more of a “give me” than an accomplishment. It wasn’t that I had a hard time learning I just didn’t care enough to work at it, to really learn. For example I missed 89 days my senior year, not because I was sick I just didn’t want to go. It’s hard to keep up when you’re not there. Especially in Algebra II, man was that a tuff subject. If it hadn’t been for my friend Diana, who sat across the aisle and conveniently placed her papers in my line of sight I would not have made it through that class for sure. My study regimen was simple, cram an hour before the exam and forget it. Needless to say I didn’t learn much. I’m not proud of myself; in fact it makes me kind of sad to realize I wasted a wonderful opportunity.

Well I went to another graduation ceremony the other night, of a different sort. It was a true celebration. A time of rejoicing and acknowledgment of an incredibly significant accomplishment. Eight men and I had ventured together through the 12 Steps of Celebrate Recovery. It took a commitment, to God, to ourselves and to each other. It also required effort to face the past honestly and openly. And it was work to plow through our hurts habits and hang-ups in order to find healing, freedom, and hope for a new and better future. We didn’t take this journey alone, we did it together. And with the help of the Holy Spirit were able to put major stumbling blocks from our crippled lives behind us.
These guys determined to spend one night every week for a year to come together in the name of Jesus Christ for the express purpose of experiencing positive change in their lives. Jesus said if as many as two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there with them. It’s true! He was there every week bringing insight, understanding and wisdom out of the most painful, hurtful, even ugly places in our lives. The awesome part is as we shared our lives with each other Jesus also brought strength, forgiveness, healing and a hunger for more.
This celebration was not something we just endured, got through and we’re done, not at all. It’s a celebration of healing and freedom that is a launching pad for new life in Christ. I’ve discovered there are no limits to the new life Christ has purchased for us. In fact I believe new life in Christ is never ending. It’s intended to be a continual progression toward our place and purpose in God’s grand scheme of things and primarily intimate relationship with Him.

I’ve participated in several of these CR 12 Step groups. I am humbled, blessed and amazed each time. We truly can Celebrate Recovery and graduate into new life!

I hope these letters cause you to celebrate what God is doing through you in this ministry.

Thank you for your prayers and support.

Jim & Pam

P.S. Remember take someone to see HOME RUN the movie opening weekend Apr.19-21st!