Debunking Shame

Well, this is awkward. This is my first time logging in to my blog in eight months. Literally, the sentence on my dashboard reads “It’s been 8 months since…” It’s tempting to feel all sorts of shame and embarrassment:

  • How could you just not log in for 8 months?
  • What were you thinking?
  • What about your new year’s resolutions?
  • What about your goals?

To top off those questions, I’m reading a few books on shame and how to deal with that emotion, so now I’m shaming myself on feeling shame. Urgh. Where does the cycle begin and end? I’ll continue this discussion on shame, but I want to update you on where I’ve been the past eight months.

Earlier this year, I learned that my mother’s cancer (multiple myeloma, cancer of the bone marrow) had progressed to the point of her requiring treatment. Since learning of this progression, I have been her full-time caregiver. I haven’t had the time or the energy to craft an article on my blog, and I feel terrible about it. My apologies, especially as I endeavored to supply a weekly list of NCE study terms. While I may have my own plans, God has His, too. I moved home at the right time, and I was at a point in my career in which I could use this time to care for my mom.

Returning to the issue of shame, people often ask me if I have a job, and they try to prod me to find part-time work at least. I mean, I’m a year and some odd months out from having graduated seminary and am not working. Talk about shame. It preys on your circumstances and thrives in the shoulds (“This is where you should be,” “This is what you should be doing,” “You shouldn’t be doing that,” and the list continues.) People have dared to tout these shame-laden words, but to that I respond, “What else should I be doing? Should I just go on with my life as if my mom doesn’t have an incurable form of cancer? Should I have pursued my career regardless? That sure is selfish.”

If I didn’t agree to being her caregiver, no one else would be available to help out, and treatment for my mom would not be possible. Patients who undergo the extensive treatments for multiple myeloma must have a caregiver present with them.

However, when people press me about finding a job, they fail to understand that being a full-time caregiver is a full-time job in regards to the time and energy that it requires. During the short weeks in between treatment, you just don’t have the time or the energy to devote even to a part-time job because of the responsibilities you have as a caregiver.

Shame is such a silly, nonsensical contraption. If we’re walking in obedience to God, He’s not going to punish us. When we experience sharp changes in our plans, God isn’t going to judge us for adjusting to those changes. There is nothing shameful about deliberately choosing to follow God in seasons that are different than what we had in mind.

One thing I know for certain, despite what shame tries to tell me, is that God is faithful. He throws us into community with people who turn out to be your saving grace in crucial circumstances. I wouldn’t be able to care for my mom, and my mom wouldn’t be able to heal, without the prayers, faith, support, and encouragement from those in our community.

I don’t know what you are going through, but I do know that God is faithful and that we can trust His lovingkindness, especially in our toughest seasons. If you’re having to make hard choices, don’t let shame ensnare you. Debunk shame by trusting yourself to make the necessary decisions and by listening to what God says about you.

Thank you for reading.