The Greatest Lie Ever Told

woman-1043030_960_720Shame has been kicking my ass all week. I should have expected its Karate Kid moves; its swift sweep of the leg because I called its bluff. Somehow, I defied my puny self-confidence, mustered all my gusto, looked shame in eye and courageously said, “Let’s do this”.

Somehow, I thought if I tried hard enough, worked intentionally with a well-organized plan (all other Type-A’s raise your hand!), I could snuff out this looming shadow of shame that seems to follow me everywhere I go. I’ve managed to outwit it here and there over the years; always temporarily; always reappearing when and where I least expect it.

Shame is not the same thing as feeling guilty or convicted; although it certainly does categorize itself alongside these other internal thrashings. The primary difference is guilt and conviction are based on truths; shame is based on lies. Shame’s lies subtly creep into our hearts and sabotage us, causing us to feel unworthy while choking freedom from our lungs, replacing it with constant doubt, evaluation, depression, isolation. We deeply desire acceptance, but we become invisible because we know we can’t measure up to our own standards or others’, let alone God’s. Ahhh, God’s standard.

Perhaps this is the standard I find myself falling short of over and over again. Who doesn’t? And I believe this self-imposed (I’ll get to this in a minute) standard keeps us from returning God’s acceptance, desire, embrace, and living life to its full. He pursues us and we hide because if He knew the real us…we assume He will reject us— and God’s rejection… would be unbearable.

woman-1006102_960_720Herein lays the great lie we tell ourselves; the one that keeps reinventing its packaging so we don’t recognize it at first: I am unlovable.

Or how about these: I am not worth love, attention, devotion, acceptance, protection, forgiveness, friendship… And when life kicks us when we’re already down, we nod our heads, both expecting and accepting it because we deserve it.  We don’t fight back. We wallow in it. Its darkness rolls over us like storm clouds moving in from the east; quick, confident, all-consuming.

Shame is something we continuously feed. Think about that. Shame would cease to hold us captive if in fact, we starved it; stopped thinking, dwelling, and living in the regrets, embarrassments, the things we or others have done, or not done, to us.

Author and speaker, Christine Caine, points out that shame, “greatly hinders our ability to receive God’s unconditional love—and share it with others” —because it implies that our self-doubt, our shame, our insecurities– whatever you want to call it– overrides God’s purpose in our lives.

Shame filters everything.

For lack of a better analogy, it’s like wearing rose-colored glasses. Everything we view is distorted. We do not see truth, such as God’s unconditional love for us, accurately. It’s as if someone is talking about the yellow ducks bathing in the pond, but all we see are orange ducks. We argue with our friend that the ducks are in fact orange, but our friend as well as passerbyers insist there are no such things as orange ducks– and the truth is these ducks are yellow. We cannot see the ducks as others see them no matter how much we strain or squint our eyes because we still have on the rose colored glasses. Therefore, we cannot tell others the ducks are yellow; just as we cannot truthfully and emphatically share that God loves unconditionally. Make sense?bird-water-summer-sun-large

So what do we do?

We have to confront. Short sentence, huge undertaking. Brennan Manning (my favorite author) writes, “Great deeds remain undone and the possibility of growth into greatness of soul is aborted” when we don’t confront the lies that crowd out our freedom in Christ. Left un-confronted, shame continues to whisper insinuating lies to us, assaulting our character, destroying us piece by piece.   Perhaps, the key to understanding this struggle is that when we are internalizing the whispers that destroy, we are unable to hear the ever-present voice of Christ. He is always, always communicating to us. We have to choose who we are going to listen to and who we will believe. This is imperative! It’s honestly, a matter of life or death.

I love how Steven Furtick, author and pastor at Elevation Church addresses this issue: “Sometimes we stand by passively waiting for God to fix the issues that He’s called us to FIGHT IN HIS STRENGTH. We have to GIVE UP HOPE that it’ll ever go away. Every second you wish God would take away a struggle is a FORFIETED OPPORTUNITY to overcome. YOU HAVE TO FIGHT BACK. Your spiritual life depends on it. Because the voice you believe will determine the future you experience”. record-1264177_960_720

To fight this battle—and it is a battle—we must take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. (2 Cor 10:5) This requires up to take each thought and trace it back to its origin and then ask ourselves if it is in fact true, if it in fact it aligns with God’s Word.

So this week, feeling unlovable because of my past, I had to ask myself, “Am I really unlovable?” When I boil this down to the truth and make it obedient to God’s Word, I have to take off the rose colored glasses and see that in fact, the truth is:
I am ridiculously loved (Jn 3:16)
I am redeemed (Eph. 1:8)
I am forgiven (Col. 1:14)
I am completed by God (Eph. 3:19)
I am God’s masterpiece (Eph. 2:10)
I am not alone (Heb 13:5)
I am growing (Col. 2:7)
I am promised a full life (Jn. 10:10)
I am victorious (1 Jn. 5:4)
I am set free (Rm 8:32)

And here’s the kicker: I was gifted this identity all BEFORE I breathed my first breath, BEFORE I had the opportunity to earn– or ruin– His gift of unconditional love for me. BEFORE! (attempt to grasp that word). His love is not contingent on what I do or don’t do. His love is based on fact, not on our feelings. (Admittedly, I’m still learning this!)

That’s the truth.

The truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32). I need this reminder—some days more than others, like this week.

God foreknew everything about me and chose me anyway. I have nothing to live up to, but everything to live from—from the “awareness of divine acceptance” (writing more on this topic next week).heart-700141_960_720

 


Related Posts:
Dear Baby I Aborted
If I Ever Got A Tattoo… Part 1
If I Ever Got A Tattoo… Part 2
Rewriting Our “Ish-tastic” Past Pt. 1
Rewriting Our “Ish-Tastic” Stories Pt 2

14 thoughts on “The Greatest Lie Ever Told

    • Ahhh my friend, me too! Years, actually. It is one of my greatest struggles. Though I know in my head that my identity does not come from others or even how I feel–but from who Christ says I am–I wrestle with this constantly. I want to be someone’s favorite. I want to know I have value. I want to know I am good enough, smart enough…worth love—worth time, worth sacrificing for. God says I am. Others, by their actions (an not everyone) show me I am not. This slays me! I often think no matter how long I have been a Christian, I still need training wheels. I still need someone to say, “Karyn, look up”! Sigh… we’re in this together, my friend! Love you!

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    • I’ve been thinking about this a lot! I think the reason we cannot grasp God’s unconditional, gracious, sacrificial love for us is because we have humanized Him. We have brought Him to our level of doing life, our way of thinking. We cannot give or live like He did/does. So we assign the best we have for Him and still…it does not glimpse Him. Admittedly, I cannot grasp Him or His ways. I am baffled—completely baffled—and yet, He is so desperately what I need and want. I constantly, constantly have to take every thought captive!

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      • I think of Luke 12:34- “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
        If God treasures us, then His heart is with us. And if we in turn, treasure Him, we become united with Him in heart.
        Coming from a fundamentalist background, I know from personal experience how difficult it is to hold our thoughts and actions captive. I think back to those days, and recognize the misery in trying to measure up to my idea of what God would want me to be. And it was misery because I could never be as good as God is. No matter how hard I tried (St. Paul can relate to this too, in Romans 8).
        I think we frustrate our own joy in humanizing God, but also in the tendency to strive for divination in our selves. God doesn’t have to try to be good, or keep His thoughts captive…. He just IS. Effortlessly and infinitely perfect.
        Maybe, it’s ok to just be me? Effortlessly and finitely imperfect? Is God’s goodness enough to cover over my inherent lack of His goodness?

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        • I think it’s tremendously important to confront our own internalized shame. Absolutely! I’ve been doing a lot of that this past year…. And it is so freeing!
          The more I surrender to God’s Love, the more of it I have for myself. And by extension, for others. The antidote to shame and feelings of unworthiness is Love. God loves us as we are–and nothing we do can change His love for us. NOTHING. NO THING can come between us and His Love… But our awareness of it is what is lacking. And that’s how shame begins to imprison us.
          Have you heard of contemplative prayer? This practice has proved invaluable to me in silencing messages of shame. It resets my mind, refreshes my heart, and my thoughts naturally fall in line. Thomas Merton wrote much on the subject. I recommend any of his 70-some written works:)

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          • I haven’t heard of contemplative prayers. I am looking into this when I sign off. It sounds like it would be right up my alley! Thank you for mentioning it!
            Thomas Merton is amazing! I have had the privilege to read several of his books! I like those deep, thought provoking books. I read them so slow, savoring every morsel, attempting to soak up as much knowledge and insight as possible! A.W. Tozer is another!

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        • I love your thoughts on this subject and I am right there with you!
          I once read somewhere that we “expect more from ourselves than God does”. I think this hits the nail on the head. God already knew our weaknesses, the areas we would sin, fail, and fall short. Maybe the rub lies in the fact that we (and others) have little grace for ourselves.
          I like the questions you pose: Maybe it’s OK to be me? Effortlessly and finitely imperfect? I believe with all my heart the answer is YES!!!! A thousand times, YES! I think we are not content where we are though and keep struggling to be more than we were ever meant to be. This is a dangerous place because it has the potential to grow us as well as to devastate us. Honestly, I keep struggling. I know God is with me in the struggle. It becomes a matter of if it’s His voice I am listening to or the sneaky half-truths that easily find themselves entangled in my thoughts.

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          • Yes– a whole hearted yes to determining which voice is His, and which voice is motivated by ego and shame.
            I think we spend most of our lives distinguishing His voice from the plethora of other messages that cloud our thoughts. The longer I have been committed to seeking Him out, the better I get at silencing what is not of Him. But when I fail to do so, I find that He is far from angry or disappointed in me. Instead, He treats us as His children — ever using our mistakes to teach us how to live as He once lived as a human being among us.
            Hearing His voice cannot be taught by anyone else. It is our own task, and the task of every human being. But I think we can support each other in giving encouragement from our own similar experience. And I think sharing our honest struggles is the best way we can do that for each other:)

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  1. Since reading this last night I’ve been thinking about the idea of taking every thought captive and subjecting them all to God’s word. This is an interesting take on how we are to exercise judgement: not on other people but on our own thoughts. But how do we simultaneously capture them for scrutiny, starve them if need be, and continue to conduct our lives projecting God’s love? The task seems daunting and unending, to say the least!

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    • This is something I have been wrestling with for years! I am, of course, still in progress, but I am learning to identify these negative thoughts more quickly and ask myself if they’re true to God’s Word. Most of the time they’re not. I then–and I know this might sound strange, but have to tell myself who God says I am. I am lovable. I am wanted. I am important… I struggle to view myself as God does, but because I fully believe in Him, I have to, HAVE to trust (for my emotional well-being) that what He says about me is true. I think it’s imperative to identify the lies we tell ourselves (or others tell us) before we start entertaining them/feeding them/pulling in all the other stuff that “supports” the lie because once we’re on that road—boy is it hard to jump onto a different road. It is daunting, but I know God meets us in this place and walks alongside us whispering the words we are so desperate to hear, so desperate to believe!

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  2. Pingback: The Secret Life of a Waffler | Saturated In Seattle

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