There Is No Shame In The Struggle

There is no SHAME in the STRUGGLE

Often times SHAME can trap us in our struggle. SHAME is a powerful, painful and heavy burden to be pinned under.

As we navigate this uncertain, turbulent, opinionated and anxious time we are either very consciously aware of how much it is rocking us or getting a glimpse of moments where we recognize the underlying shaking of the foundations we have built our present selves and certainties on.

With our HUSTLE driven culture it is easy to get trapped into owning SHAME. SHAME because you are struggling. There is even shame in admitting to the struggle.

Our culture worships at the alter of grit and perseverance.

We apparently will sleep when we are dead.

We know stuff.

We know with every obstacle comes opportunity.

That we can choose to grow, get ahead, or give in and fall behind.

That the biggest thing standing in the way is ourselves.

 

All great, well meaning and required attitudes to grow and conquer.

But you can’t get ahead or get anywhere when you are shackled to shame over the fact that you have your doubts, you struggle, you fall short, don’t always make the cut and can’t always stay focused on the bright side. Frustration, anger and shame can easily become our closest companions when we reach the end of ourselves.

I DO NOT believe we have endless capacity.

We have a cap.

We will and do wear thin.

We fall flat, come up short.

Reaching the end of our limited capacity sucks. But it brings us face to face with our humanity. It can be a blessing and answer to prayer.

One gift my faith has taught me is SHAME is not of God. Shame has a way of pinning you down, trapping you, suffocating you and the more you let it pile up sometimes the harder it is to find the strength to be freed from in. You either live an exhausting life trying to out due, outwit or one up  shame OR exhaustion comes from camping out under the weight of shame for far too long. The cornerstone of my faith is the light that comes and makes the darkness of SHAME flee.

It is GRACE.

Freely given forgiveness, not earned or worked for but offered by and given as a gift that anyone anywhere is free to receive. (See Romans 3:24)

We are human.

Lack of control and uncertainty is hard and sometimes we heavily lean on unhealthy devices to mitigate our inability to fully cope. Don’t be fooled nobody is navigating this properly or perfectly, nobody on this side of heaven has all the answers. It is OK to struggle. There is no SHAME in the struggle.

Fight

fight

My last blog I talked about the blessing of resting in the act of relinquishing the illusion of control. That we really only have control over one thing, ourselves and how we hold space or conduct ourselves in daily uncertainty. Read about surrender HERE.

The word surrender is often associated with weakness. It’s like letting the drawbridge down and slowly emerging from the battle, little white flag in hand with the weight of defeat bearing down on your slumped shoulders. That is not the type of surrender I am talking about. The surrender I speak of lays at the feet of a spirit of humility and comes with FREEDOM and empowers you with a willingness to FIGHT.

When we fight from a place of FEAR looking to gain control over things we do not actually have control over, the result is exhaustion and uncovering the end of ourselves. But when we fight from a surrendered spirit we exercise our awareness of our limits. We know that fighting is working with what we have and the belief that it is enough.

Sometimes FIGHTING is the act of surrendering our pride.

Re-evaluating how we respond to things and having the willingness to face the uncomfortable answers about ourselves. It is hard work to ask ourselves tough questions and to open our mind to different answers. It requires us to let go of past hurts and grievances and acknowledge our part while forgiving the part others played.

The way we have always done things has been disrupted and we often find our comforts in easy to follow, non disruptive, “sweep it under the rug” routine.

So amidst the rubble of a pandemic world in this disrupted place,

this raw place,

I am choosing the opportunity to surrender to the lessons and FIGHT the urge to fall back into the same routine. My guard is up and I am paying heed to what gets my “firsts” and going to battle to establish what gets rule over my life.

Who & what are the first minutes of my day being given to?

I am fighting to establish a new routine. A routine where I am not giving my leftovers to that which is most important – but I am prioritizing who gets what leaves my hands “first”

The first minutes of daylight will not be given to Facebook, insta, email or worry. I choose to spend my first minutes of the day immersed in God’s word. In prayer, in worship, in thankfulness & gratitude. He who has given me everything will be given  the first fruits of my day.

A life worth living has to be fought for. We are in a place where our only option for any sense of control is contained in our ability to govern ourselves.

From a surrendered heart we can use our limited resources to FIGHT by reacting to whatever comes our way today ?

OR

We can establishing a strong statement over what will RULE the day. Take up our gloves and position ourselves to respond vs react to today.

 

Surrender

surrender

These past few weeks we have become forcibly aware of our inability to control the world around us. The palpable results are an underlying sense of fear and anxiety.

But let’s take a moment to recognize the opportunties often only present in the midst of hardships.

The truth is times like these expose our foundations. The blocks we build our daily mode of opaeredum on. It shakes things up and brings our weak points to the surface. There is great blessing in times of revelation such as these. We have become awake to our daily rhythms because they have been painfully disrupted and what we are cognizant of we have power to change. 

Times like these have become markers along my faith journey. It’s from the hardest most broken places I have found the strongest foundational blocks to keep building the days ahead on. 

These uncertain days have exaggerated what was already there. An intricate fabric of fears woven amongst our daily behaviour. Our motives and driving forces are being revealed as our “normal” foundations are being tested. We often throw up prayers for change only to come face to face with the frustration of seemingly unanswered prayers. But what if the answers, the peace that we seek can only be found when we surrender control over the outcome. There is such peace in surrender. The key is there is no guarantee – there are plenty of “what ifs” that could knock our feet right out from under us every minute of every day. We have come to falsely believe we can construct a life free of hurt, free of pain or discomfort, free of tragedy, misunderstandings, sickness, disease, or loss.

It’s simple.

We cannot.

There will be loss. There will be hurt. There will be pain, discomfort & tragedy. We can so easily waste a lifetime scrambling to stay in control. Pulling on any lever that gives us the illusion that we are the wizard standing behind the curtain.

Today my choice is surrender.

Surrender to the process.

Surrender to the lack of control over any one thing or circumstance other than me.

Surrender and make room for the idea that the only control I own today is control over how I respond.

I was not called to fix the world or rescue it. I was called to surrender and from the peace of surrender lead the world around me.

Sometimes it takes moments where we are completely out of control and losing our sanity to realize our only option is to surrender. Surrender to the lesson and opportunities to learn, grow and serve on this side of heaven.

Don’t misunderstand me.  Surrender does not equal giving in.  In fact with a surrendered posture you are ready to fight. But that’s a whole other blog post ;)

“Faith is not a lever, Faith is a lens we look through” Steven Furtick

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.””

John 16:33 NLT

Hosting a Dinner Party in Times of Uncertainty

dinner party

 

As I have transverse times of uncertainty – where so many things in my life felt in complete disarray & no immediate end seemed to be anywhere in sight – I have found these 3 things have always helped me pull up a seat to each new day and joyfully feast on what is served.

(1) The Guest List: You must decide and prioritize what “voices” get a seat at today’s dinner party. You cannot pull up a chair beside a chaotic blend of unfiltered opinions and expect to maintain a sense of peace about where things are heading. Opening Facebook to take in your “staying informed” scroll is like inviting a world of toddlers to your dinner party. It will leave you over informed & distracted and you can only be attentive to so many conversations in a day. The wee most vulnerable hours of the day for me are reserved for conversations and prayer with God. A Reminder to myself of the innate truths I have come to believe and discover through my faith walk. It’s like an anchor for my day rooting me to the belief that things may toss me about in the waves today but I am tethered to something bigger and need not fear. I have been adding what I hope to be helpful content to socials but I myself am not consuming the content in a mindless scroll. The important world announcements find there way to me – I do not need to go out and seek them. There are more important guest I need to seek out to be present in today. It’s time to edit the guest list and be selective over who and what voices get a seat at your table.

 

(2) Setting the Table with Gratitude. The quickest way to turn the mood of a table right side up is gratitude. Filling our heads with everything we are missing only draws attention to the black hole that is sucking all the joy out of the room. We do not know what tomorrow will bring and no guessing will change it. The only thing we have immediate control over is the minutes right in front of us. This is the perfect time to learn the daily habit  of gratitude. Centring our spirit around thankfulness invites Joy to take a seat at the table. Joy is different than happy. Joy brings a sense of peace even in times of worry or uncertainty. You can still be sad and in mourning but Joy allows you to smile amongst the tears. It’s a massively powerful guest to make room for at the daily table. Joy is best summoned with thankfulness. Not thankfulness for the ornate standout items like the centre piece in the middle of the table but when we can find thankfulness over the most simplest things like the table itself, the guests on your right and left, the clean water being served, the heated room and shelter over your head. Even thankfulness to live in a country where going bankrupt is an option!! Joy will attend any party with guests willing to submerge themselves in attentive and deliberate simple thankfulness.

(3) To Serve Not to Be Served. When you are selective in who gets a seat at the table and purposeful to set the table with gratitude inviting Joy to your daily rhythms it makes you something the world is always in need of – which is available. It means when you take a seat at the daily table you notice when your guests cups are empty and you have the presence to stand up and help fill the empty cups of your neighbours. Purpose lived out in service to the world ushers in a double portion of Joy. Instead of being inwardly consumed with all that you are missing your eyes are open to a world around you where your deliberate presence and service can make a difference. It’s much better to live a life more aware of the empty toilet paper roll in the guest bathroom rather than your own en-suite. You begin to realize there are only a handful of things in this lifetime that really matter. Your presence & service at the dinner party. Positioning your heart and soul to be present to serve rather then to be served.

It’s not an easy practise hosting a daily dinner party in the midst of uncertainty but it is worth it.  Through prayer and petition I have come to learn God is generous when we openly ask and seek for daily guidance. Everyday another table is set before us. We get to decide, are we going to pull up a seat to be served OR position our hearts and minds to be of service to the guests seated amongst us.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

~ Martin Luther King, Jr

The Real Virus Behind The Toilet Paper Apocalypse

toilet

I feel like the richest man in the world.

Why?

Last week we bought the gigantic pack of toilet paper that lasts us for months at Walmart and apparently this week ushered in the toilet paper apocalypse.

However I must admit for a split second I almost got wrapped up in the panic and I know a good majority of you did too. A text from a friend with a picture of the empty toilet paper shelves at our local superstore had my mind rushing.  I had to teach a class and could not squeeze in a visit to the grocery store to grab my stash and besides it seems like it was already too late. Earlier that morning I had seen something about empty shelves in Australia and it seems like the word was out and I missed the boat.

Oh how pervasive is FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out) in our current culture & how alarmingly quickly FOMO spreads and how irrational it can make us.

For all we know some very clever toilet paper marketing companies sat back and looked at the irrational media generated pandemonium surrounding the corona virus and thought – hmmmmm – how can we get in on this?

“Hey I know, grab your phones lets spread FOMO 14 times the speed of the actual virus making its tour around the world and cash in on the panic. All we have to do is capitalize on the fear and make people feel like they are missing out on something – that will ignite and spread like a wild fire.”

So they head on over to a few monster stores in their area and moved all the hoards of “more than enough” toilet paper off the shelves and starting taking pictures of the empty shelves and posting them on socials highlighted with the little scared screaming hands on it’s face emoji.

Why in an emergency would toilet paper be the item needed – we can all agree a confusing and completely irrational strategy in a “state of emergency” However people got in their cars, rushed to the stores, waited in lines, posted their pictures out of fear they were going to be left toilet paperless.

What is more pervasive, damaging, deceptive, and deadly than any virus will ever be? What lives around the corners of every minute, huddle in the motives of a good majority of our daily actions everyday?

FEAR.  It a massively powerful, irrational and often manipulated emotion & we can so easily and unconsciously turn the keys to that vehicle over to the daily headline.

So yeah let’s wash our hands “like we just finished cutting jalapeños and need to remove our contacts” but more importantly let’s examine the fear that can so mindlessly drive our daily decisions and actions. Fear can so easily make us a commodity to be sold and bought in our current culture and fear steals more lives right from under our noses every day of every year since the beginning of time. We are all guilty of being a carrier of fear. The empty toilet paper shelves are a evidence of a greater more pervasive killer that knows no borders.

“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important”

Dwight D. Eisenhower.