Shame. It is a sneaky bugger. It usually hitches a ride on us for an incredibly long time before we even realize that it’s there. We can even make friends with it, and develop a Stockholm Syndrome of sorts. Even though it hurts us, takes over our lives, and is super lame we can’t imagine life without it. It becomes such a part of our thought process and paradigm that to kick it out seems utterly impossible, as if we would be kicking out a part of who we are.
The recent round of shame discovery in my life was not because of something I did, but about what wasn’t there. Being a missionary(whatever that means) dramatically lends itself to shame. I am a superhero you know. Well, at least that is what I expect from myself. There is not only the work pressure I put on myself, there is the hyper active pressure I feel to be accountable for every moment, decision, and euro I spend. This is not all bad. I am so thankful for the accountability to be intentional and not live a life of selfish endeavors. It reminds me that I am not my own, and that I am part of a community who surrounds me to encourage, empower, and join in the Kingdom work that is front of me. But, of course that is not actually how things go.
The shame monster got its claws in me early on last school year. I moved to Vienna with refugee ministry in the forefront of the “why”. However, I am working at a school right now for multiple fantastic reasons! This is an incredibly worthwhile thing. It is not less than, it is powerful and where I am supposed to be right now. However, I felt ashamed by that. Shame covered all the success of my work at the school and said, “Well, that isn’t really what matters.” or “But, this isn’t what your supporters signed up for.”
Then, whenever I was asked about refugee work, I would get nauseous and do everything I could to avoid actually answering. My answers were filled with excuses, not yet’s, and almost’s. A beloved mentor of mine pointed out that wanting to ralph (sorry to all the Ralph’s out there) when asked a question meant that there was something wrong. Side note: Please find people who will call these things out, and not just reassure you that it is normal.
Shame, that familiar bully: it steals, it destroys. I don’t want it. So, I am trying to tear down the idol I have built of “ministry excellence”, or “the good missionary”. I want to start each day believing that this is the Day that has been created by my God and in it He has things for me. That is what I am responsible for, today is all that I need to be concerned about. I will fail at this. I will become consumed with yesterday or tomorrow, and take my eyes off what is in front of me. So, I will lean into that promise that His mercies are new EVERY morning. Of that I am sure. Pretty much everything else…I have no idea! I am working on letting that be ok.