Throughout my childhood and most of my adult years, I have had three constant companions: fear, shame and guilt.
I described in an earlier post in more detail how fear tiptoed into my life at a very early age. It was well in place and an active presence in my earliest memories. I now realize it was a fiery dart of the enemy of my soul most often shot from the bow of my own mother. Instead of nurturing and comforting, she condemned and abused. Instead of clear boundaries and expectations with consistency, there were ever changing expectations I could never meet; ones that would cause rages, expletives and abuse, verbal and emotional, as well as physical. My life became a constant state of fear, of always walking on eggshells, of never knowing when I would disturb the “beast”. Fear that I would once again cause the one who was supposed to love and care for me, to rage and inflict pain.
Shame and guilt were Siamese twins that entered my life shortly after fear. I truly believed that if I wasn't such a naughty child, my mother wouldn't react like she did. I was frequently reminded by her of what an awful a child I was and of how much she had to endure because of me. If I had a dollar for every time I was called “selfish” or “independent brat,” I would be quite wealthy! Every “sin” I committed was told in exaggerated details to Dad and others. As the years went by, the offenses grew with the passage of time or morphed into something very different from reality.
Success in any arena was unnoticed but anything she thought would reflect badly on her was cause for a “shame-fest”. Criticism on how I acted, what I said, my physical appearance, or my clumsiness only served to magnify my shame and feelings of unworthiness. When a volcanic explosion of rage occurred (and occur they did!!), I was told in words that would make a sailor blush how it was all my fault. These rages were often accompanied by slaps, shakings, clawing of my arms with her fingernails and using whatever was nearby as a destructive weapon of her angry “discipline.” I was the problem… and shame and guilt were the only companions that I deserved.
God and His everlasting, enduring love and grace entered my life and I became His daughter, when I found His saving grace at the age of nine. Home was still hell and I still had my three companions, but I had a refuge. One who would love me in spite of anything I did. I still struggle with my three companions: fear, shame and guilt. But now, I am quicker to run to the sheltering arms of refuge of my Abba Father.
“For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in.”
This verse has been a lifeline I have clung to the last year and a half, since my returned memories of past abuse and realization that my narcissist mom has never loved me and is incapable of loving me. It reminds me of the One who will never reject me, who will always take me in, who will always love me.
"Can a woman forget her nursing child,
And have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.
Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;”
My God will never do the unthinkable and abandon His daughter. He has my name engraved, tattooed on His nail scarred hand!!
While looking on Pinterest this week, I came across a quote on shame. While researching its source, I came across more of it. It is quoted from “Wanting To Be Her” by Michelle Graham.
"If shame tells me that I'm defective, grace tells me that I'm valuable. Shame's greatest weapon is the fear of judgment; grace's even greater weapon is the relief of unconditional love. Shame says that because I am flawed I am unacceptable; grace says that though I am flawed I am cherished. Shame believes that the opinion of others is what matters; grace believes that the opinion of God is what matters. Shame claims I must be perfect to earn the approval of others, grace claims that I am accepted regardless of seeing imperfections. Shame makes me hide, grace makes us frolic. Shame is the language of the serpent; grace is the language of Jesus."
Reading this shows me how much I really need to stop listening to the voice of shame and rather hear the freeing truths of grace. I need to not hang onto guilt that isn’t mine or true guilt that I have repented of and not listen to those lies. Instead I need to accept all of the grace that God has extended to me and will continue to extend to me. I want to be His cherished one who frolics through life rather than hiding in the shadows of fear and shame!
O Lord God, please help me to turn my back on these three dreary companions of fear, shame and guilt, and instead remember your loving acceptance. Enable me to embrace Your grace and ignore the lies… I can’t do this on my own, Lord. Give me grace; Your Amazing Grace. Amen.
May you all find grace in place of fear, shame and guilt.
Grace to you,