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Let Yourself Be Loved

When Wrestling With Shame Means Surrendering to Love

I’ve been wrestling with shame. It is a monster, both a part of me that I can’t separate from and a prison from which my heart yearns to be free. It’s weapons are fear and regret. The fear holds a tight grip on my heart as the idea of exposing my inner self to the world mortifies me, because, what if I make a mistake? What if the world finds out I am pretty damn far from perfect? Then there’s the regret. It bubbles and burns deep inside, a vile, black sludge of mistakes and sins and personality flaws, and like molten lava, it hardens to a rock wall around my soul. And I have a feeling that the person who I really am is trapped within that wall, desperate, yet terrified, to be free.

The hard part is that ultimately, this wrestling doesn’t look like fighting, but like surrendering. Not to shame, mind you. It is surrendering to the one who has cast my sins as far as the east is from the west (Ps 103:12).

And yet, for most of my life, I have believed the lie that I have to do it all by myself. I’m guessing I’m not alone. This is a classic lie of the enemy, and in our broken, misled, “independent,” culture, it is no surprise that many of us believe it. So I wrestle also with abandonment, that inner belief that when it all comes down to it, I am on my own, so I’d better get to it. This makes surrendering and accepting that I can’t earn my own salvation extremely difficult.

Some days it feels impossible. The emotions are too much, my fuse is too short, and the impatience and coldness towards my family is just more evidence piled on as proof of the accusation that shame whispers in the depths: You are not good.

Other days feel ok. And I wonder, am I healed? Is it over? The impatience to be healed leads me to once again take on too much, because if I stay busy I won’t have to worry about those bad feelings. Inevitably, I end up exhausted and back in the same state.

In all of this, I feel the Lord calling me to rest. Because sometimes when shame tells you to never stop proving your worth, to keep on doing all the things so that no one will ever know the real you, the answer is actually to stop. Stop striving, stop earning. Just stop. Rest, and let yourself be loved.

I’m a wife and mom, so certain things just can’t and won’t be stopped. I still have to make dinner. I still have to do the laundry, read bedtime stories, kiss owies, and try to pay attention during an overly-long, intricately-detailed story about something I know little about. But the deeper I go into this wrestling, the more false expectations fall away. Sometimes, we eat leftovers or fast food. A lot of times, my kids get baskets of clean, unfolded clothes to put away as they wish. I let the house get messy and I wait to clean the bathrooms til Saturday morning chores when my big kids can help. The beauty of this is that the ones who love me most don’t care. And the ones who I think care probably don’t.

And this is the path to healing from shame. To let yourself be loved without striving, without earning. Because, friends, it’s true. You are loved. You are loved by a God who came to rescue you from slavery even in the midst of your sin (Romans 5:6). And you are loved by those around you, who care less about your perfection and more about your presence. Let yourself be loved.

I’m trying to. Ever so gently, He is teaching me, transforming me. In prayer, I imagine Him reaching into me to wrap His hands around my stony heart. His sacred, wounded hands warm my heart. If I keep letting Him, He will transform it into a living heart again. It will beat in rhythm with His heart, reminding me in every moment of His love for me: a love I don’t have to earn, a love He freely gives. Because I am His beloved, and, dear friend, so are you.

by Katie

#Shame #Surrender #Healing #Abandonment #Katie

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