SHAKING OFF SHAME
This past month has been another enjoyable and liberating month at BSSM. The target on our radar was destroying shame – a subtle and yet destructive motivator that has lingered in our lives for too long.
You may know shame also by thoughts like: “If only I did that better”….. or “I am the only one that seems to be going through……” or “I should be farther along than I am” …… or “I will prove that I am better than this” …. or “I am still not cutting it compared to”…..
Often we position these motivators in front of us to charge us to be a better person. Yet when shame takes the lead it only defeats you and those in its wake. Many people have eloquently shown that you will become what you focus your attention on. It is a much healthier option to admit when you don’t get things 100% right that you are on the journey – in fact no-one expects perfection. Certainly God doesn’t. Sure, he wants us to mature. But maturity and perfection are vastly different. One builds life – the latter sets you up to fail.
We have discovered the most deceptive aspect of shame is linked to self judgement. This is challenging when you recognise you have an eternally significant destiny. Thus you set high expectations for yourself. After all, you are assisting the advancement of an eternal Kingdom. Sadly, if those expectations are not achieved to your level of expectation, the journey of coping with self disappointment and condemnation creates difficulty. You hear self-judgemnent when praise from others is deflected into a response expressing false humility, “It was nothing really!” A present accomplishment is dismissed because it was deemed insignificant to the high expectations you place on attaining an eternally significant destiny. There is some good news. The eternally significant destiny is made up of many little accomplishments. Shame minimises these loudly. But no more!!
Shame has been a terrible friend and thankfully the journey of breaking its authority has begun. We said something like this, “Shame – you have been one of our worst friends. You promise change and nothing ever happens. Often we feel worse after we listen to you. You are a terrible leader. So we choose to ignore you and accept unconditional love. He is a much better friend and easier to partner with. So unconditional love – we are all ears.”
BREAKING OFF FEAR
This month we participated in a high ropes course. This was the first time we had ever experienced something like this and hopefully it won’t be our last. It was much harder than it looked. Balancing and moving along a thin cable 12 metres above the ground took every bit of focus and energy. Holding onto team members only we slowly and methodically wobbled across the course. The reward was a flying fox ride at the end. Fear is present when you allow it to come on you. After all, we were safely harnessed in and when we fell we dropped only a metre or so. Sounds like the exercise has a larger context. When God is walking this life with you, one could suggest you are harnessed from above (heaven) and should you fall, the drop is not far. You are destined to succeed when you have others around you linked to support and hold you when you it all gets shaky. This has been a simple but profound picture of the beauty of a life in God surrounded by like minded friends in community. This should never be underestimated.
MAKING GREAT FUN
When you live an hour from mountains that are snow capped, it would be easy to admire them from a distance. But alas we are not that sentimental. We would much rather be in the action of it all. So when my (Craig’s) sister and family arrived for a weekend we headed for Mount Shasta in search of snow and a toboggan run. The girls had never seen real snow (Hunter Valley gardens weekender does not really count). The look on their face when we drove beyond the elevation of the snow line was priceless. Then to watch them step into it, pick it up and then pound me (Craig) with snowballs for hours was a great joy. We returned fire with gusto also (they were less impressed at this!!!). Then the next day we drove to Lassen National Park and saw an abundance of snow and even better toboggan sled hills where we had a blast. Shell’s 37th birthday will be fondly remembered by snow, sledding and saturated jeans!!!
After another week of school we drove to San Francisco to share Part 2 with Cass and Tim. We experienced our first cable car ride up and down the San Francisco topography, visited and toured Alcatraz and ate clam chowder and fish and chips (a delicacy sadly not discoverable in Redding). Alcatraz was fascinating – the prisoners could see, smell and hear freedom only a mile away and yet were unable to enjoy such liberty. The psychological damage this did to many was incredible. Alcatraz has ceased to be a penitentiary but it made me wonder how many people are living life trapped in a place where they can see, hear and smell freedom but are unable to get there despite it being so close.
A beautiful remembrance in San Francisco is at the Yerba Beuna Gardens honouring Martin luther King. This quote is now in my memory. Kingdom life must bring social change.
We begin our thanksgiving celebrations this week. This will be our first US experience of this special holiday. Friends have invited us to share this meal that is sure to delight our tastebuds and also our hearts as we give thanks for what the year has provided. Thankfulness should never be underestimated or under-employed. It is a powerful measure of the condition of your heart. We pray despite this US holiday not being observed in most other nations, that the philosophy of taking time to be thankful would be embraced. We are certainly very grateful to the experiences of 2015. To those who have assisted us to be here, we thank you and pray God’s goodness would be realised in your world. We are thankful to God for being His son/daughter. We are thankful for our family. We are thankful we have expanded friendships this year. We are thankful our vision has been enlarged and importantly we are thankful for being different to the start of the year. We pray these may also be true for you too.
Until next month as we celebrate the best birthday of the year,
Blessings Craig, Shell, Brielle, Elisha and Jessika.