God is Smiling

God is smiling
As he stoops
To raise up
Those in need

With clear eyes
His focus fixed
Shining down
Joyfully

No cruel grudge
Will he bear
For the weak
Who cry out

Only mercy
Offers he
For their healing
And their doubt

Save us, Lord
People called
To King Jesus
As he passed

Bending down
Love he offered
As he took them
By the hand

Your belief
It has healed you
Enjoy my gift
Go in peace

My good pleasure
Is to bless you
Warms my heart
To set you free

Face of God
Ever cheerful
As he washes
Dirty feet

The Good Shepherd
Going after
Every wandering
Straying sheep

His merry heart
Happy bearing
Every pain
We endure

Arms of goodness
Gently holding
Little lambs
That we are

God is smiling
As he bends
His heart open
As we cry

Jesus waiting
Ever longing
To draw close
His precious bride

Silence the Voice Shame

They said he would come after me and they were right. He was waiting outside as I hesitantly emerged from the high school girls’ locker room. I was relieved to see a group of people there. Someone was sure to step in if they saw a seventeen-year-old boy harming a fourteen-year-old girl.

It all started a few days earlier when I said something to a mutual “friend” about a young man’s looks. It was a naïve, but derogatory, comment that my “friend” reported to him. I heard that he was going to confront me about it and put me in my place.

As I took a few steps out of the dark locker room into the brightness of that sunny day, this tough guy greeted me with a full-handed slap across my right cheek. I was totally shocked and in intense pain.  As stunning as the assault was that no one lifted their voice or a finger to help me. I was alone, in pain and publicly humiliated. I heard no one defending me. The only voice I heard was the sinister voice of shame.

The Impact of Shame

The voice of shame tells us that we are something bad. It is different from the guilt that we feel when we do something bad. Shame may accompany guilt for a while and that is normal. But feelings of shame can linger long after an incident is over. Even after we have confessed and turned from our sin, if that was the issue. We can also feel a sense of embarrassment and shame for no apparent reason.

Shame can create an insatiable desire for approval. It provokes us to perform to please others. It keeps us from reporting our abusers. It causes us to fear exposure and rejection. Shame robs us of the joy of forgiveness. It can dominate our thoughts, shutting out the loving voice of the Holy Spirit. Shame has done all this to me, so I know how it operates.

The Story of My Shame

I started to believe that I was not good enough when I was a child. My dad was easily angered and did not allow opinions contrary to his. My four siblings teased me as the baby of the family. My peers criticized my looks, and I was always nearly the last to be chosen when teams were picked. Boys that I liked rejected me. Then that older boy slapped me, and no one stepped in. I could go on.

Early in my life I decided that something must be inherently wrong with me. Maybe you came to the same conclusion about yourself. That was shame talking to us.

Shame did not stop there in my life. After being married for only a few months when I was twenty-one, my new husband decided he was done with marriage, so I was out. Angry and hurt, I then pursued nearly any guy who would bother with me, even virtual strangers.

I know now that shame’s voice is what lured me into that dark place. I had given up on being loved and accepted, so I settled for the fleeting pleasure of being used for a while. I ended up with a stack of shame a mile high and very little hope.

But God graciously met me in that valley of despair. He loved me into his arms where I have found acceptance and comfort throughout the many years since. But shame still screams at me from time to time tempting me to listen to its lies.

Silence the Voice of Shame

A New Identity

A few days after that young man hit me when I was a freshman in high school, my older brother, who was a senior, enlisted a couple of his friends and confronted him about it. He never bothered me again. Knowing my big brother stood up for me helped to dull the sting of my shame.

Jesus is a loving big brother to those who put their faith in him. He stood up for us against shame on the cross and provides a way out of it for good. (Hebrews 2:11-15) But we must lay hold of that deliverance. One of the first steps to doing so is to deny what shame says and believe God instead.

The Bible is full of the good things God says about us. But those encouraging words can be hard to accept when we have listened to the degrading voice of shame all our lives. Sometimes pride can tempt us to hold onto our old familiar, shame-filled identity. We may get some strange pleasure out of feeling sorry for ourselves over the bad things we have experienced.

But if we humble ourselves, let go of the past and choose to believe God’s voice, we will hear about a wonderful, new identity. The identity that he gives us as his loved, honored, and accepted child.

Start to Silence Shame

God changes and heals us by many means: prayer, worship, fellowship and his Word. I believe that the Bible is the most reliable and stable of these. It is a rock that never changes. (Matthew 7:24) Meditating on it teaches us who God is and who we are. It lowers the volume of shame and increases the volume of the love of God.

Here are just a few simple but powerful, biblical truths we can meditate on to begin to silence shame:

  • I am not ashamed. God says he removes the shame of my youth. (Isaiah 54:4)
  • I do not have to hide from others. God invites me to hide in him and be safe. (Psalm 32:7)
  • I am not rejected. God gladly chooses me and loves me. (Colossians 3:12)
  • I am not dirty. God says I am completely clean. (Ephesians 5:26)

Shame is cruel. It belittles us and whispers that we are substandard. It sneers at us and makes us want to hide. Shame has a loud voice, but it does not have the last word.

Hope for Unhappy Stay at Home Moms

You have the greatest job on earth and you know it.

Most days.

Other days, you’d rather just stay in bed and pull the covers over your head, screaming silently (or aloud!), “Leave me alone!!”

But, of course, you don’t stay in bed. Precious little ones are putting their adorable faces right up to yours and saying, “Mommy, I’m hungry” or your infant is crying.

Commitment and instinct rule the day and you drag yourself into the bathroom to start the all-too-familiar routine over again.

You brush your teeth, throw your hair into a pony tail, wash your face, don some jeans and a t-shirt and wonder when you’ll be able to fit in time for a shower. Taking a long, hot shower has become the extent of luxury in your life.

Before you know it, you’ve put in your first load of laundry, fixed a quick breakfast for the kids and now you’re sweeping Cheerios off the floor.

That’s how you begin another exhausting day of meals, cleaning, wiping rear ends and noses.

There is also another battle going on. The one that can’t be seen.

I chose this life.

I know it’s best.

I love my kids.

But…

I’m bored and frustrated.

I feel undervalued and unappreciated.

I feel guilty for taking it out on my kids.

How dare I be down when I’m so blessed?

I don’t want to give up.

I can’t give up.

But how can I continue when I’m so unhappy?

 

Our Challenge

Some days are easier than others. There are plenty of days when our hearts are full, and all is well. But even then, there can linger an underlying sense that we are missing out on something that a job outside the home would give us.

Many stay-at-home moms feel undervalued and unappreciated by society and maybe even by their family and friends.

Those who had a high-paying, prestigious job before deciding to stay home might miss the daily, positive feedback they received. There are no paychecks, glowing annual reviews, raises or Christmas bonuses for a stay-at-home mom.

For others, the unknown can be just as trying. “What if I had a career instead of this. Maybe I need to get out there and make something more of myself.”

There’s little positive feedback. That’s why leaving the home can be so tempting.

The Hidden Issue

I don’t think our choice of vocation or the lack of positive feedback is the real problem. Even moms that our culture applauds for succeeding as “go-out-and-work” moms can feel inadequate, and many do!

The cause of our discontent is not found in what we’re doing.

It’s found in what we think about ourselves while we’re doing it.

Long before we have children and decide to care for them full time at home, we can have an underlying feeling of not being good enough.

This year I’ve been looking at my childhood as I’m working through some negative self-perceptions that I’ve carried around all my life.

My dad was a fun-loving Irishman with a great sense of humor and he loved his family. However, I’m seeing now that he lacked the good communication and parenting skills that would have made me feel valued and important.

When I was four years old, my dad decided that I would no longer go with my mom when she went shopping. He thought I was getting spoiled.

My mom has a memory of me standing on our porch, crying as she drove away. It must have been hard for her, too. But she didn’t argue with my dad. I remember feeling scared, confused and alone.

If my dad had taken me inside and played a game or read a book with me, it might have lessened the sting of rejection. But he was not that type of dad.

So, I was left standing there on the porch believing I’m spoiled (I’m sure I had no idea what that meant), something is wrong with me and whatever was going on, it was all my fault.

Circumstances like this root deep into the minds of children who naturally lack the maturity to process them in a way that prevents those negative perceptions of themselves. They hear:

“I’m bad.”

“Something is wrong with me.”

“I have to be better so that dad will be happy with me.”

Those are the messages that we take with us as we grow up. We keep trying to prove our worth by performing to win approval. We hope it will make us feel better about ourselves.

We finally realize after wearing ourselves out, that no matter how well we perform, it doesn’t seem to take away the sense that we don’t quite cut it.

The Healing

I recently read a book called The Soul of Shame by Curt Thompson, M.D.  It’s full of insight into the areas of the brain, shame, unworthiness and how to heal.

Dr. Thompson explains how our brains are literally wired when we are children in response to the way we are treated. If we’re not validated by the people closest to us, even before we were born, we internalize shame and lack of self-worth.

The great news is that our brains can be rewired by replacing the negative thinking with the positive. It’s simple, but not necessarily easy and won’t happen overnight. However, it’s worth it!

One of the reasons that I love children is because they are naturally unashamed, full of love and free. I want to be that way, don’t you?

There’s hope! We can restore that childlikeness that makes every day an adventure and turns work into play. It’s never too late.

First, start by replacing the destructive recordings in our mind with these truths:

  • I am specially created by God.
  • I am and always have been worthy of love and appreciation just for being me.
  • I am and have always been more than enough.
  • I am a gift to the world.

Next, consider finding a qualified pastor or therapist to help you work through some of the shame and hurt in your life. It can hide just about anywhere and uncovering it can be the start of a life-changing healing process.

Third, consider getting these books to help you on your journey. They helped me and I know they could help you, too.

The Soul of Shame, Curt Thompson, M.D. Rewrite the story of your life and embrace healing and wholeness as you discover and defeat shame’s insidious agenda.

The Anatomy of the Soul, Curt Thompson, M.D.  An amazing journey to discover the surprising pathways for transformation hidden inside your own mind.

Shame Interrupted, Edward T. Welch, PhD. Look at Jesus through the lens of shame and see how the marginalized and worthless are his favorites and become his people. God cares for the shamed. Through Jesus you are covered, adopted, cleansed, and healed.

Healing the Child Within, Charles L. Whitfield, M.D. Healing the Child Within describes how the inner child is lost to trauma and loss, and how by recovering it, we can heal the fear, confusion and unhappiness of adult life.

A Gift to Myself: A Personal Workbook and Guide to Healing the Child Within, Charles L. Whitfield, M.D. Using numerous experiential exercises that the reader can do at their own pace, physician and author Charles Whitfield takes us on a healing journey into our inner and outer life.

Stay-at-home mom, you truly are doing the most important, valuable, impactful vocation there is on earth, no matter what anyone else says.

I wish you well on your journey, dear one, and I’m rooting for you!

Feel free to contact me directly by clicking the Contact tab or leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your stories.

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