Let It Go

Touch the hand of a newborn baby, and the infants reflexive instinct is to grab hold. When a person falls down, their instinct is to reach out and grab hold of something for support. What every human experiences physically is also the condition of the soul. The soul clings to something to cover shame and give a sense of significance and value. We all seek identity in something, whether is is a relationship, role, status, wealth, or something else. So, the advice to ‘let it go’ is not great advice when given by itself, because our instinct will be to grab hold of something. Thus, we either return to the familiar and comfortable for a sense of self, or we trade one thing for another. This has been my own experience. As a people pleaser – deriving sense of self from the affirmation of others – I spent years trying to please my spouse so that I would then feel worthy. When that failed, I turned attention to seeking affirmation from my role as pastor. One idol was substituted for another. Throughout the Bible, God has made himself available as the thing that we cling to for identity. Living in communion with him to have our basic questions of worth (see Why Do We Adopt an Identity). In Christ, we have both an example of what clinging to God looks like, and also an image of the invisible God – truth in the flesh. Truth that we can substitute for the lies that motivate us to cling to false sources of identity. As we take captive our thoughts, our decisions, behaviors,...

The Opposite of Femininity

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about passivity and its relationship to masculinity. (See The Opposite of Masculinity) Among the responses that were generated by this post was a question I had not previously considered. What is the opposite of femininity? I offer this answer after meditating on several biblical passages and having conversations with godly women I admire. Masculinity is not the opposite of femininity. They are complements. The opposite of femininity is busyness – an inability to receive. Busyness erects barriers. Femininity receives. Busyness dominates. Femininity respects. Busyness diminishes. Femininity nurtures. In the home of Mary and Martha, both busyness and femininity were on display. (See Luke 10:38 – 42) While Mary was available to receive, Martha was busy with all the things that needed to be done. That is the covering for the shame inherent in the broken image that busyness provides. If things get done then that ‘proves’ the worth of the woman. Busyness is a way to feel needed. (See Covering Up the Broken Image) Busyness is a manifestation of the false self – the identity rooted outside of Christ. It gives a false sense of security and control. Often these things are felt by others – particularly a spouse – as domination or isolation. Passivity (opposite of masculinity) and busyness (opposite of femininity) are false complements. At first they seem to fit well together, but they are both opposite of the masculine and feminine facets of the image of God each spouse has been given. It leads to division – a woman angry that the man will not step up, and a man angry...

Covering Up the Broken Image

The moment they partook in the fruit that was forbidden by God they realized their nakedness. Everything changed. One moment their greatest worry was finding a new place in the garden to experience the beauty of all God made and the very next moment they realized that they stood naked before one another. That perfect image was broken and the first couple experienced shame.   Their vulnerability was on display and it was overwhelming. As they each looked at the other, instead of security, they were filled with questions and doubt. Shame entered the picture – the fear of not being loved nor accepted – and the result was an uncontrollable urge to make themselves more acceptable to the other.   So they sewed together fig leaves. To cover up their nakedness. The openness in which they lived with each other was now hidden behind a protective layer of chlorophyll. It might as well have been a wall.   New questions must have flew through their mind – Does this person love me? If s/he really knew me, deep down, they would run away. They are just using me. – Trust was in doubt. Instead of oneness, there was fear.   But this was not the end. Far from it – there are footsteps in the garden – God is coming! We must hide. Shame caused Adam and Eve to lose touch with the image. It was broken, and so was their relationship with the Creator   Rather than trust, there was now doubt about God’s goodness, doubt about whether He really wanted what was best for them. With the Creator,...

The Solution for Shame

Shame is the fear of not being loved nor accepted. It occurs when our identity is challenged and the value we receive from that identity is interrupted. There is much research on shame and its affects on our relationships. Consensus seems to be that shame, while it is the most common emotion, is not adaptive or natural. It is destructive. In that the Bible agrees. Shame is a product of the fall. Like earthquakes, death, and the weeds that choke your vegetable garden, it is not natural; shame is not part of God’s original, very good design. It emanates from the broken image within us. Without Christ, the best that can be done is to cover our shame. That is why we develop identities. It is our best effort to repair our own brokenness and develop a source of security, comfort and significance. But, because of the daily challenges to and the subjective nature of identity, this is not an effective solution. Shame breaks through the self-constructed shell. The covering for our shame must be secure  – unchanging. That is the solution offered in Christ. The Truth of Christ does not change; He will not leave nor forsake those in Him and He does not show favoritism. If shame is felt by the follower of Christ, that is indication that the false self has allowed something to be added to Christ. It is the opportunity to examine our hearts and re-center in Christ. That is the battle of the old nature and new promised by the apostle Paul – part of God’s plan to chip away at our heart...

Adopting Roles or Identities

All of us have multiple roles that we assume each day. Even each hour. These different roles all come with differing expectations and are met with various levels of success and failure. Father, son, husband, coach, helper, volunteer, blogger, teacher, friend, and writer guy are a few of my own roles. Have you thought about the multitude of roles in your own life? Create a list of your own roles. For everyone, the danger is when these roles become components of our identity. As has been mentioned before on this blog, our identity is our sense of self, what makes us valuable or acceptable. When that identity or part of our identity is challenged, the result is not simply a failure – something to be grieved over, learned from, or done again  – it now becomes something that affects our sense of worth. The challenge uncovers shame. Example: If my identity, my sense of significance, is tied up in being a father, then what happens when my daughter acts out at a restaurant? Or won’t go to bed on time? Simple stuff. Yet, it becomes something more than a challenge to my role. Within me it becomes a statement of worth. Because it is a failure of identity, I am unacceptable. And I experience shame; anger, anxiety, or insecurity are a likely result. On the other hand, if my identity is secure in Christ, then my fatherhood is a role. My daughter’s actions, while possibly difficult to cope with at times and a source of frustration, will not cause me to doubt my significance or acceptability – those are rooted...

Gain Perspective. Live Well.

Close
loading...