Can we talk today? And can you not judge me? This is gonna be a tough one for me. And I’m not talking “tough” like I feel guilty for eating a whole can of cinnamon rolls by myself (maybe). That’s not it.
What if I told you I’m not perfect? Oh! You already knew? Well, evidently I didn’t. There’s a perfectionism gene that gets passed down from my dad’s side of the family that is alive and well and living in me. It runs deep in my (varicose) veins.
I’ve strived for internal, heart-n-soul perfection my whole life and have felt sorry for all you other pitiful individuals who just couldn’t quite get it together on the inside. Joking…but kinda not. Forgive me.
I’ve always loved people, but somewhere deep down I’ve judged and I’ve speculated and I’ve shaken my head at the thought of how in the world you, you wretched soul, could claim to love Jesus but still make the mistakes you were making (Gasps. Hangs head in shame on your behalf).
I fell from my seat next to the throne of Jesus.
And y’all, I didn’t just trip like that one time when I was 10 months pregnant and fell over the speaker while I was leading worship. It was worse than that. Because this was my choice. I chose to give up for a hot minute and dive head-first into some things that I knew were damaging to my soul. I chose to turn away from what I knew in my knower to be good and right. I turned a blind-eye to injustice that on any “normal” day I would’ve gone down swinging for. I didn’t even recognize myself. And I still can’t even believe it sometimes.
I cry writing this…
Give me a minute to get a grip…
It was a short run compared to the rest of my life, but it felt like it lasted an eternity. It has changed me for an eternity – I promise you that. I gave up on almost everything but my wardrobe. And I hated myself and my life and I hated the consequences my choices were creating. But I couldn’t seem to walk away. All I wanted was for somebody to come and dig me out of my hole, but at the same time all I wanted was for everybody to just leave me alone. I was gloriously happy and completely miserable in my mess. Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about. And the shame – it had me by the throat and wouldn’t let go.
Now, all the juicy details are not important. Trust me. You can guess and wonder and draw your own conclusion. All you really need to know is this one thing…
Shame is real, but grace is realer. (Yes, I know what I just said.)
Shame almost kept me from even writing this. I said to myself, “You haven’t been out of it long enough. It was too recent. You’re a hypocrite. You haven’t paid penance long enough to share your shame story. What if you make another mistake?”
Sound familiar? Not only did shame almost keep me from writing this, shame almost kept me from living! But the grace, y’all. The grace from Jesus and from people who love me. It overwhelms me. And it overwhelms the shame.
And Hebrews 10:1-25 (whenever you get a minute) – this scripture overwhelms me too. I’m a hot mess reading it today…
Now, sit down. Are you ready? The real shame is not only in the thing – the act, but the shame is in the not repenting, and in the secret-keeping. Brene’ Brown, my new favorite author (and pretend-best-friend) says in her book THE GIFTS OF IMPERFECTION, that shame metastasizes in the dark. Shame grows when you keep the lights off. Luckily, I’m not good at hiding my life issues very well. I have some really great people in my life who, not only could tell I was on the struggle bus, but weren’t willing to watch me keep riding on it. A few of them threatened to throat-punch me and choke me out while helping me through my process, but they never left me. I will love them forever. Even though I willingly chose to walk through this dark place, they still didn’t leave. And once again, neither did Jesus. I finally decided I had enough and walked away…then went back in…then walked away. It was a process. But I finally had a gut-full, and this time I never looked back.
Y’all, we are gonna make mistakes. Who knew!?! In the words of one of my sweet friends who has also made her fair share of choices she would like to forget, “It is what I did, but it is not who I am.” Look, we are gonna do the thing and say the words and have the attitude and eat the whole pizza by ourselves in one sitting (never) at some point along the way. It may be tomorrow. It may!!!
And here’s the deal, if you’re eating that whole pizza by yourself everyday and living in the dark about it and you don’t care and you’re not gonna change for nobody, no way, no how, then this particular story may not be for you. We’ll chat another day.
I’m talking to the one who is saying “Look. I love pizza. I love eating it when nobody is looking (because it didn’t really happen if nobody saw you eat it). I love (hate) how it makes me feel. But I know it’s wrong and I don’t want to be about that life. I don’t want to be that person who eats the whole pizza. I want to be the person who eats the salad.” I’m talking to you, pizza/salad-eater. EAT THE SALAD!! You can do it!! I believe in you!!
If you’re waiting to feel worthy before you eat the salad, or sing the song or write the blog or say you’re sorry or make the change, you may as well wait forever. Let me ask you something. Do you wait till you’re having the best hair day ever to go get your hair done? No!! You let that mess get funky and near-rotten till you are on the verge of partial ownership in your favorite dry shampoo company. I promise you this, your hairdresser thinks you are anything but worthy. But you go anyway – nappy head and all. And she loves you (but she’s afraid to touch you) and she makes you beautiful again.
Look, you may never FEEL worthy. But you are, because of Jesus. Christ in you makes you worthy. You’re also what we call…human. And Jesus is what we call…forgiving.
He loves us. He knows us. He made us. He’s full of grace, mercy and loving-kindness. He offers it to anybody who will accept it. What’s even better is, it starts over brand new every single day.
So, get up. Cry it out. Say your “I’m sorry’s” (even to yourself). Be brave. Admit the mistakes. You can’t skip this one. And I hear you – “Give me a cotton-pickin’ break!! That’s the worst part!!” I know. But the truth is, it’s the best part, because that’s where the freedom comes! The freedom comes with the repentance.
So accept the grace. Right the wrongs. And don’t you dare let the nay-sayers and the haters keep you from moving on. Some people will walk away. Some people will be too disappointed by your mistakes to hang in there with you. Some may even glory in your situation because it takes the spotlight off of their own mistakes. Maybe they don’t understand your ability to repent and walk in freedom. For whatever reason they just don’t seem to want you to recover. That’s a hard pill to swallow, I know. But it’s ok. Wish them well and keep it moving. Find the ones who will stay and forgive and hold your hand and not let go. Walk in your purpose, because YOU HAVE ONE!!! And hey, when you mess up again (like you will and like I have), read this again and repeat. Cuz that’s exactly what I’m gonna do – read this thing AGAIN, on the days I’m not feeling worthy, until I believe that I am! Because I am. And so are you.
He is. Christ in us.
Now let’s tear up that coupon for a large one-topping and go eat that salad (and for the love, could you just TRY to buy organic this time?) And hey, if you wanna have yours with a big ole glass of sweet tea and a hot fudge sundae for dessert, well… there’s no judgment here. 😉