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Face Your Shame

I’m still up on the high of teaching at the Story Vision Fiction Retreat in Seattle. So I’m still thinking about the last session I shared earlier today…

Has what you’ve faced made you realize the value of your story?

When we’ve been through difficult, painful things that laid us out, we can find God has helped us through.

We can see that the way up was in lying down.

Yet we tend to want to avoid these things. We believe we can improve ourselves by doing many things, being diligent, hard-working, etc.

But is that the best way to self-improvement? Maybe we need to get it through our heads there’s a better way.

It may be that the better way to moving up in the world is to move down, to be less concerned with ourselves, less obsessed with our own interests, to remember that when we need God and he does what he does, that’s how we’re enabled to learn more.

Only letting go of our short-sighted goals and accepting help in our need will get us to stop hoping for and expecting joy without pain and life without death.

God turns our desires on their heads and says that for being better selves, we have to get humbled, sometimes broken, and often ashamed.

The trouble is, we have no capacity for embracing that as ordinary human beings.

When I fell from perfection and became mortal, I didn’t want to feel shame for my incompetence and pride. Not even for a second. I couldn’t admit my need for God for a long time after, and I thought I had to do many things in my own strength to prove I was worthy of him, as if my strength even came from me to begin with.

But when life finally intruded on my perfect little world and I finally knew suffering, I realized that if I wanted God to draw near to me, I had to repent and call my heart to account for its arrogance.

And what I found was, God will rescue us if we’ll just turn to him and ask him to.

When I came in humility, broken and contrite, and asked him to redeem my selfish desires to remove the cursed need for validation and seeing myself lifted up? He didn’t even hesitate. I was in.

No worthiness required.

Why couldn’t I simply trust that he would lift me up once I was willing to stop trying to lift myself up?

I had to learn to let myself be helped.

And the demon of opposition is shame. We can’t be afraid of this or we’ll fail. We can’t cling to safety or opt for the circumscribed path. We have to call it out and by name.

When we change one letter in shame, we learn how to defeat it: we share.

Shame wants nothing more than to make us protect ourselves instead of share.

To fear people’s judgment and their rejection for our inadequacy. And this crippling fear could have kept me locked up and silenced forever.

But God knows that before we can set out on our quest and experience the freedom of defeating our great villain and escaping the death it breathes out, we must call it out, confront it and destroy it with the only weapon we have against it.

The worthiness we receive from God’s love.

Shame is always a fear we’re unworthy of connection. And it will always get in the way of our creativity.

To be wholehearted, there is real shame work to be done. If we’ve tied our worthiness to what we produce, to the product? We miss the beauty of the process.

And self-empathy is the antidote to shame.

“Our capacity to be wholehearted is never greater than our willingness to be brokenhearted.” ­–Brené Brown

For the higher purpose,


4 Responses to “Face Your Shame”

  1. awordgeek says:

    Mick, of all you taught us this past weekend at the retreat, this lesson on shame hit me the hardest. I’ve been a striver most of my life, too. And it’s darned uncomfortable when you really get down to it, carrying such a load in our human weakness, imperfection, and tendency to rebel. This lesson was the arrow that God used at retreat to pierce my heart more, break down more barriers between me and my writing, and to discover afterward that I’ve done more than I thought I had…but always under His tutelage. And it’s all about being under His tutelage, isn’t it?

  2. Mick says:

    Sarah, yes, you have done more than you realize! You brought so much to all of us this weekend. I’m still overwhelmed, but I know we’ll all slowly start to fill this expanded space. Hopefully with more of all God brought us in that safe place we found. Can’t wait to hear how you take it out to meet the challenges in your own life with your story…

    It IS all about staying under our Master’s tutelage!

  3. suzee says:

    the way UP is in lying down. ah.
    mick, i miss you.
    you’ve changed day by day and i want to sit in one of those little class things you “taught” like when i met you in orange county.
    when are you coming to montana?
    my offer of taking Charlotte O’hara and Ellie horseback riding is the ace up my sleeve.
    and speaking of sleeve which rhymes with steve, we patiently await the next chapters. ahem
    suzee B

  4. Mick,
    Yes, Yes and Yes…so grateful for how God saves us again and again and again when we call out to Him…blessings to you, my friend :-)

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