A glimpse into my response to difficulties of life under the false Health, Wealth, & Prosperity gospel
I make a mistake, a troublesome situation arises in my life, or I experience difficult emotions.
I forget that I’m human and I forget that since I am human I will make mistakes, troubles will arise, and difficult emotions will enter my mind.
I devise plans to circumvent, cover-up, or run away from my mistakes, troubles, difficult emotions.
“No no, those won’t work.”
I dive into the shame toilet.
I obsess day and night about how I can prevent people from finding out I’m a human who makes mistakes, experiences trouble, and deals with difficult but NORMAL God-given human emotions.
The inevitable happens – consequences, more trouble, increasingly difficult thoughts and emotions.
I swish and swirl in the toilet bowl.
People do find out I’m human. Oh no!! They look at me strangely, they give me Bible verses to read, they lecture me, they lay on the guilt and shame, they tell what I could’ve done to prevent this.
On rare but sweet occasions, I encounter a “Me too”, a listening ear, an encouraging voice, a gentle reminder of God’s love, the GOOD NEWS (and this is often enough to help me climb out of the toilet bowl).
In the absence of the above, I imagine their disgust – because I have experienced their disgust in the past.
I believe there is something fundamentally wrong with me – for being a freaking human!! I belong way down in the sewer.
I take out my boxing gloves and start beating myself up in the pipes leading to the sewer because this is what I learned to do. I beat myself up for being human and for not being smart enough to prevent them from finding out I’m human.
I obsess about ways I can prevent human mistakes and experiences in the future – this would look like “If I just go to church more, read my Bible more, pray more, give more, serve more, hang out with “good” Christians, blah blah blah.”
Then I start beating myself up for beating myself up, and my whole self is buried in sewer crap.
The Shame Cycle, now that I have left that arena….
I make a mistake, a troublesome situation arises, I experience difficult emotions.
I fix my gaze on the shame toilet. I ask myself if I want to back there. A voice in my head whispers “It’s what you know. It’s what you always do. It will help you get better.”
I remember I’m a human living among other humans who make mistakes, who experience trouble, who deal with difficult but NORMAL, God-given emotions.
I may get stuck in obsessive thinking for awhile. I may forget that my old way of dealing with difficult things is not productive and only serves to flush me down into the shame toilet.
I remember to put my hand on my heart, talk to Jesus, text a friend to let her know I’m struggling with shame, anxiety, or depression; go for a walk, breathe, be still, self-care.
Life goes on…
“Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.” Brene Brown
I would like to thank meditation teacher Tara Brach, my friend Val Flynn, and my daughter Bri for helping me to learn the art of being compassionate toward myself.