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.

15 Journaling Prompts

   

Journaling is one of the best ways to get in touch with yourself. I journal daily, and it helps me process the events of the day. Sometimes I journal by writing down whatever comes to mind with no filter. Other times I prefer to have prompts to guide my writing process. Here are fifteen journaling prompts to use when you journal. Some are serious, but most of them are fun.

  1. What are your obstacles right now? The things that are preventing you from attaining what you want out of life, what are they? What will it take to overcome those obstacles? Name at least five and be specific with your answers.
  2. Pick one object that inspires you for today. Pick a tangible, meaningful object that gives you hope and write about it. Focus on it for the day.
  3. Suppose that there is a bubble around you that goes everywhere you go. Describe this bubble. Think of what its boundary is composed of, who is in the bubble with you, and the messages you constantly tell yourself or hear other people saying. Is this bubble a positive or negative thing for you? Is it one that you need to get out of or is it healthy?
  4. Write a letter to someone who has offended or hurt you. Don’t send it to them, but write everything down that you would want to communicate to them.
  5. You and some passengers on your cruise get left behind on a secluded island. Write about what you will do during your time in the island, how you will survive, and how you will get off the island. Nothing is off limits.
  6. Design a business plan for a nonprofit organization. What kind do you want to create? How would you secure funding?
  7. When you have bad days, what do you wish people would say to you to encourage you?
  8. What songs would be on your playlist while climbing Mt. Everest?
  9. Write a screenplay about a subject you’ve never heard of or had experience with before. Who would play the leading and supporting roles?
  10. Suppose this wasn’t the last season of Downton Abbey and you’ve been cast in the show. Which role would you play and why? Would you be an existing character or a new character?
  11. Suppose you have an enormous library in your home. How do you categorize your bookshelves? How do you style it?
  12. What needs to happen in your life to make it closer to what you dream about?
  13. Which type of food best describes your personality? What dishes does it contain?
  14. Write a travel guide for your favorite destination.
  15. Suppose you were chosen to speak to a group of college students. What would your topic and outline be for your talk?

It’s Not Your Fault

  
It’s not your fault. Repeat after me, “It’s not my fault.”

  • It’s not your fault that he cheated on you.
  • It’s not your fault that she abused you.
  • It’s not your fault that you were abandoned as a child.
  • It’s not your fault that your parents got divorced.
  • It’s not your fault that your father hit you.
  • It’s not your fault that your partner left you.
  • It’s not your fault that he hit your child.
  • It’s not your fault that she manipulates you.
  • It’s not your fault that they threatened you.
  • It’s not your fault that you were abused.
  • It’s not your fault that you were traded.
  • It’s not your fault that you were used.
  • It’s not your fault that you were lied to.
  • It’s not your fault that you’ve been bullied.
  • It’s not your fault that people talk bad about you.
  • It’s not your fault that you were kidnapped.
  • It’s not your fault that you have depression.
  • It’s not your fault that you have bipolar disorder.
  • It’s not your fault that you hallucinate.
  • It’s not your fault that you have that diagnosis.
  • It’s not your fault that you were taken advantage of.
  • It’s not your fault that he kept going when you said, “Stop.”
  • It’s not your fault that she wouldn’t stop when you told her to.
  • It’s not your fault that they verbally abuse you.
  • It’s not your fault that he emotionally abuses you.

Please know that whatever situation you are in, you are not alone. This season will NOT last forever. Seek help. Find helpful resources. Talk to someone you trust. Speak out.

Many people experience circumstances in which they become scared to talk. You might be in a situation where you feel in danger or where you have been in danger. If you are immediate danger, call 911. If you need a safe place to go, your country or state likely has a hotline that you can call.