Friday, April 20, 2012

Getting Beyond Shame - A Guest Post

Today we have the privilege of hearing from a new friend of mine: Micky De Witt. I want to learn to listen more to the stories of others, to begin to see the world through eyes that are different from mine. I asked Micky to share her experience and struggle with shame, something that many of us struggle with. Micky and I both welcome your comments in response to what she shares, and you can follow her blog at:  Thanks so much for sharing with us Micky!

The topic of shame is new to me, but the feeling of shame is something that has been with me for as long as I can remember. I just didn’t know the feeling had a name.

It happens every time I leave the house wearing a dress. It happens every time I am spoken to by a man other than my husband or father. It happens when I attempt to speak at church. It happens when I write and post about a controversial topic on my blog. It’s this feeling that asks the question, “Who do you think you are?” It reminds me that I am just a woman, uneducated, and that my mere existence can cause grown men to stumble. It tells me that wearing pretty clothes is prideful. It whispers to me that my gender has already settled the score. I will always come in second. It hushes any desire to lead because I haven’t read enough books. I lack experience, and who would want to follow me anyway?

That is shame.

Realizing this took some time. I used to just think of it as humility, submission, and simply who I was. It wasn’t until I was allowed to cross over those lines that I realized that shame was what was holding me back. Self-doubt and fear were long-time friends of mine and I still hang out with them from time to time. Sometimes, learning to say goodbye can be a process.

Coming to this realization is still very new. When you have walked one way for so long, it takes time to examine the new road and even longer to walk comfortably. I am in transition. For me personally, the beliefs I held that contributed to my shame were also the beliefs of others around me. This complicates things. It’s not my job to change people, and the last time I checked, people (including myself) don’t respond well to forceful opinions.

So what is a girl to do? I am learning to tread gently. I lean on those who encourage and walk forward with me. I write about different issues on my blog in hopes to start a conversation. And more than anything, I try to find my identity in Jesus. He is not the King of Shame, but the conqueror of it. He tells us to walk boldly, speak truthfully, and to love with abandon.

The last part is tricky. To abandon means to leave those thoughts behind… And not just the thoughts about myself but also the thoughts I have towards others. My battle with shame should not motivate me to elevate myself, but it should help me see myself and others as equals. It can be so tempting to pull out my megaphone and yell to the world that being a woman doesn’t make me any less… but you know what? It doesn’t make me any greater either. Not having a college degree doesn’t make me stupid, but I also see my need for those who are wiser.

I’d like to say that I don’t battle with shame anymore, but as I said earlier, this is very new still. I struggle with it daily. I have a hard time with making eye contact. I have a hard time with initiating conversation. The list of struggles could go on. But it helps to have a community of people around who encourage me through my weakness. Without people, I am sure that Shame would win each and every time.

So I walk. I take each step in fear and trembling and some days I make strides while on other days I run backwards. It’s a process. It’s a fight. It requires sweat and tears, but it worth it. Because through the process, I get to see more of who I was made to be. As each layer falls to the floor, more and more of the New Creation is revealed. I wouldn’t give up the fight for anything.

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