How do you find peace during stress? “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Mark 5:34 I spoke last week quite a lot on who I was – but now it’s time for me to tell you …
[Guest Post by Kimberly Davidson Campbell – I have never met a woman who had it all together on the inside. Maybe you do a good job or holding everything together on the outside, but there’s always traces of shame that tries to steal our joy. I appreciate Kim’s words of encouragement today. Like fresh water in a desert oasis of my heart. Receive them today with love!]
As I sit in the passenger seat of my husband’s now trip-cluttered (otherwise immaculate) Camry, I am intrigued and overwhelmed by all the areas of shame that plague me.
These areas of shame don’t just plague me — but in some way — they plague most of the women we know.
According to author and blogger Shauna Niequist in Bread & Wine, most women are battling shame in two areas: how their bodies look and how their homes look. I would like to add one as well: how their children look (or act).
Here are some of those examples in my own life:
+ I’m ashamed that my husband is unable to give me a piggy-back ride or carry me over the threshold. This isn’t because he isn’t strong. He is. I love his arms and how strong they are. It is because I weigh almost 40 lbs more than him.
+ I am ashamed because of my flabby body. It is now covered with stretchmarks from two kids and losing large amounts of weight several times. I wouldn’t trade my boys for anything – but I don’t like stretchmarks.
+ I am ashamed because my closet is a mess and my husband’s is all in order and tidy.
+ I am ashamed because I struggle to keep our home as clean as the mister would like it. So I come unglued when he suggests that he could help do some of the dishes or vacuum. Shame affects pride.
+ In high school, I was ashamed as a part of the cheerleading squad and traveling singing group because the order size for my uniform or dress was always bigger than everyone else’s.
– I struggle when I am in public with my toddler and he is pitching a temper tantrum because he doesn’t want to do something. My parenting skills are not what they should be if he is misbehaving.
+ I (wrongfully) pride myself in that my boys have never had to have their nursery number put up on the screen during church for me to come and get them. I would die in horror if that ever happened.
You may or may not be able to resonate with any of these examples, but I’m sure you have examples of your own.
Maybe it’s why you can’t look at pictures taken long ago. Or why you keep private stashes of House Beautiful or Shape for midnight reading. Maybe your shame in your body comes from a tattoo from another time in your life you would gladly remove if you could. Or maybe it’s the scars from an abortion or eating disorder.
Shame is not only an indicator of the outward home or clothing size or perfect children. Shame reaches our souls and steals our joy!
Shame also reveals many other truths about our hearts:
- It reveals pride. I’ve mentioned this before, but pride is so ugly in a believer’s heart. Everything we have ever received is from God and is not of our own doing. So, when we strive to keep appearances up for the sake of making ourselves look better – it is not a helpful tool in sharing the truth of God’s Word. (Ephesians 2.8-10; Isaiah 2.17)
- Comparison is a nasty habit. Whenever we compare our lives with those of others it reveals an ungrateful heart to the Lord. It is wrecking friendships as well. Oh, be grateful in your heart for all that God has done for you and in you! He works all things together for our good and His glory! (Romans 8.18-39; Colossians 3.15-17)
- Both of these areas of our hearts reveal a lack of love for others. One of the two commandments we are given in the Word is love your neighbor as yourself. Friendships are one of most important things in my life. I love the sweet friends that God has blessed me with over the years and in every place I’ve lived. But, when I let sin hinder those relationships, it brings bitterness that takes forgiveness to overcome – by the truth of the Gospel. (1 Corinthians 13)
The Gospel – the life and work of Jesus Christ – as it does for every area of our lives, has a direct impact on our life and soul of shame.
- Jesus doesn’t love you because you are skinny or wear a certain size. I remember Anne Hathaway’s character in The Devil Wears Prada boasting in the fact that she was now in a size 4. But, her life wasn’t any happier than it was when she was slightly bigger. Jesus work in our lives often to heal us from an addiction to the scale or the tag on the skirt.
- The gospel isn’t yours only if you have a farmhouse table in your dining room or your baseboards never have a speck of dust on them. The gospel is ours not because of anything we have done – but because Jesus has done everything.
- Christ is ours no matter how our children behave – or misbehave! Claim that truth!
- Christ frees us! Romans 8.1 is a verse that every believer needs to claim for their lives as a mantra. We are free. There is no condemnation!
The next time you find it hard to believe that you are more than your house, your outward appearance, or any other area you find yourself ashamed of – rest in the doneness of the Gospel of Jesus! And boast in that!
Kimberly Davidson Campbell is a wife, mother, freelance writer and photographer who resides in the Atlanta area with her family. She graduated from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Masters of Divinity in Education. Her passions include life-on-life discipleship, speaking, teaching, writing, cooking, being healthy, and photography – and mostly spending time with her husband and two very active sons! She blogs regularly at http://kd316.com.
[Guest Post by Kay Warren – When I attended the Mental Health and the Church Conference at Saddleback Church, I was inspired by Kay’s story. She has learned to choose joy through sorrowful circumstances. If, like Kay, you find yourself in mourning or grief — …
[Guest Post by Lori Tisdale – We know each other through mutual friends nearby, and she asked me to share my story on her blog — I had to host her here! If any of you have stepped foot in the church, you’ll understand what it means to be hurt. But. It’s what we do with our hurt that matters. Please welcome Lori!]
I was the first born of a new pastor and his young bride.
For the most part, I was a very well-behaved preacher’s kid — the teacher’s pet, a devout Missionnette (the church’s version of a Girl Scout). I led the on-campus High School Bible Study, taught years of Sunday School, went on missions trips, etc.
I vividly remember God’s call on my life, at a summer kid’s camp – I was 12 years old. He very clearly told me that He wanted me to use my hands to reach others for Christ. I was not your typical preacher’s kid — you know the kind, they are usually rebellious.
But I was not.
Until I was hurt.
Nearly 25 years into my Dad’s ministry career, he was targeted by certain individuals in our church who felt they were hearing God’s voice and direction more clearly on certain issues. And for years they argued with my Dad, their pastor, about how he handled these issues. Until they eventually disagreed enough that they threatened my Dad to step down, or else.
These individuals were more than just people in our church. They were people we had vacationed with, shared holidays with, and had grown up with.
Their actions rocked our world.
I had been extremely hurt by quite a few people in our church family.
I started to question the purpose of church altogether. Church didn’t feel like family anymore. And I certainly didn’t want to go to church, mostly for fear of being hurt again. Plus, finding a new church after you’ve listened to your Dad’s preaching all your life is rather difficult.
I used the excuse that church wasn’t a requirement to being a Christian, so long as I still had a relationship with God. But in that decision I was turning away from God’s call to ministry.
Along came some new friends who were much less judgmental. After all, when you’re partying and drinking with them at the bar they don’t want to be judged either.
As a result of hurt and resentment and pain, I completely stepped out of God’s will for my life. I was running from it, kicking and screaming. For a long time, I kicked and screamed.
It was ugly.
Until I got it. I finally learned to accept God’s love for what it was, all I would ever need! My worth wasn’t found in the circumstances of my life, how bad my church hurt my family or me. My worth was found in His undying love, His mercy and grace, His forgiveness.
I finally learned how to forgive those who hurt me, who hurt my family.
It took longer than I like to admit.
But I finally learned that painful lesson.
My journey kind of reminds me of Jonah’s: God told Jonah His will for Jonah’s life, and due to a number of circumstances Jonah said “Nope! Not gonna do it!” and he ran from God’s will for his life.
But God said, “Oh yes, you are!”
With God’s help (and a lot of grace), Jonah faced his fears, and fell back in line with God’s will for his life. What’s even more amazing is the thought that even with all of Jonah’s running, God still wanted to use Jonah for His glory!
That’s amazing to me!
So here I was, finally returning to church, returning to God’s call on my life, but so very fearful of being hurt again.
And yet God reminded me of the plan He had for me. To use my life to bring Him glory. I can’t say I wasn’t hurt again. But my perspective had changed. Despite my fears, I could rely on God to go before me, to protect me and be with me.
“There is no fear in love. Instead, perfect love drives fear away” (1 John 4:18).
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13).
Raised in church, as a “preacher’s kid”, Lori has a unique perspective of church, leadership and faith. Lori loves sharing her personal faith journey and what it took to bring her back into a deep relationship with her Heavenly Father. Having a passion for authentic living and connecting, Lori views her life as an open book and loves sharing that with others. Lori’s faith and lifestyle blog explores various DIY/craft projects, kitchen successes (and failures), and God’s life-giving message as it pertains to His calling on our lives (and the life lived in between all of the rest). Lori and her husband Lee and their dog Callie reside in San Diego County. Connect with Lori on her blog: http://mylifeaslori.wordpress.com.
[Guest Post by Kathy Moore – I have been walking alongside my friend through her separation, and then divorce. It has been especially hard to watch as the gossip train has started, and doesn’t seem to stop. If you are a “Christian” who knows others who have been destroyed by gossip, please forward this to them. If you are one of them — be encouraged by my friend Kathy’s story today.]
I am divorced.
Out of obedience to the Lord, I have been silent to share my story — until now. Due to continuing gossip, I have felt the Lord’s prompting to speak truth.
Matthew 5:13-14 reminds me as a Jesus follower I am to be salt and light to the world. Salt, as we all know, flavors, and light reveals. In addition to being a flavoring, salt is a healing agent, though at first it stings like no one’s business.
And light? While we are thankful for all the wonderful gifts it brings into our lives. Sometimes, when we look straight into it — we are blinded. I realize that there is a cost in being salt and light.
I have had my own healing happen through the stinging, cleansing agents of salt. I have looked into the light and been found wanting.
I have yielded to both the stinging and the blinding, and I have come out stronger for it. I have come out a stronger follower of Jesus, a more compassionate friend, an empathetic leader, and a mom who is able to instill healthy boundaries into her children.
It was not without pain, tears or anger at God.
God has brought me full circle.
He took an anger so deep that it turned logic into chaos. He lovingly comforted me as I came to the cross, a 41 year old broken, humbled, beaten woman full of repentance and asking for forgiveness. He has restored my heart, even in my deep brokenness.
It is time to speak up and confront the abuse — spiritual and otherwise — that continues in my life and the lives of my children.
January 2011, my life unraveled.
I had known for many years that things were not right. I worked and worked to make things right. But. Nothing stuck. Healing did not occur. My husband and I had separated 3 times in 15 years together.
The final time, I sought assistance from church leaders. I realize now they were
not equipped for such a large task. I knew that my church did not support divorce, and I didn’t want one — but I knew I could not keep living in a terrible situation.
I was angry.
I was hurting.
I was out of options.
The problems had started years and years before. I never really had the guts to bring the situation into the light. My husband and I did not fight well. As a matter of fact, the fights often turned abusive. Chocking, hitting, name calling, and being thrown down occurred more than once.
I admit, sometimes I fought back. The last time we fought, my diamond left a cut above his eye. But years of verbal, physical and emotional abuse left their mark on me. All I wanted was out. And so I began swallowing over-the-counter migraine medicine. That one act created a firestorm that led to my eventual divorce. Unfortunately, the firestorm really didn’t hit the true cause of my misery — abuse. It only added to the abuse by adding a layer of spiritual abuse.
When I filed for legal separation, I lost more than a marriage, I lost a church family and the support of those I had counted on.
I was left a shadow of what I had once been.
What I have failed to mention is all the gossip that has occurred since my separation, and then divorce. Though I filed for separation, I was not the one to check the divorce box. I never wanted divorce. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt what was happening inside the four walls was not healthy for me or my kids and it wasn’t getting any better.
I have been called a run-away wife.
I have been told that he found better women.
I have been told I am a terrible mother.
It has been said that I’ve slept around.
And who said all these things? Christians. The very ones who turned their backs and didn’t wait around for the real story.
I am tired.
I am righteously angry.
And now, my children have gotten caught in the insipid chatter.
Ladies and gentleman, abuse is never ok. Abuse is a symptom of a much deeper issue.
I tried everything imaginable to stop the abuse. I stayed for 15 years. I loved my husband. I wanted a better future. I drove those who really loved and cared about me nuts, because I could not leave my marriage. And yet, the marriage and abuse were killing me, slowly.
It is a rare day when I don’t pray for my children’s father.
It is a rare day that goes by when I don’t grieve over my broken marriage.
It is a rare day that goes by when I am not confronted with the damage of divorce.
On the other hand, rarely am I not thankful for who I have become. I wish I had had this strength when I was married, I believe maybe there could have been a different ending.
I like who I am.
I like who God created me to be.
I like the woman who relies fully on Jesus — for everything.
God has shown up and continues to show up — financially, emotionally, and with gifts I couldn’t have asked for.
And yet, the gossip continues. People. I am divorced. I left an ugly situation hoping and praying for a different outcome, which still hasn’t come. However, God has come into my life and scooped out the anger and given me a heart of forgiveness towards my children’s dad; a forgiveness I’ve extended verbally to him.
Before the Lord, I am clean.
I have kept silent about the true nature of my marriage, because I wanted to protect not only my kids, but their dad as well.
I prayed that understanding would come. I have begged and pleaded with the Lord for someone to stand up for me — and yet here I am, with full peace knowing I must stand up now and speak truth.
Truth shines light on wrongdoings.
Truth exposes sin.
Truth is love.
Love isn’t just sappy and happy. Sometimes love hurts. But, what is the outcome? Peace. True, God-given peace. I have walked a very lonely road. Often times the road has left me in the dark, by myself for long periods of time.
I’m thankful for it.
I’m thankful that I know Jesus intimately.
I’m thankful that it’s purely Jesus, me and my kids going down this road.
I continue to pray for the kid’s dad. I pray true, salt and light repentance occurs. continue to speak truth into my kid’s lives. I continue to love them and have fun with them and all the while encourage a deeper relationship with Jesus. For those that think they are helping by speaking “truth” into my kid’s lives about me or my church or my life — stop it. If you really want to help, confront the sin that is standing right in front of you masquerading as “right” living.
For the rest of you who have so faithfully stood by my side through tears and really, really tough junk. Thank you. I pray one day I can do the same for you.
I am Kathy Moore, a daughter of Jesus and mom to three. Writing is my passion and encouraging others towards a deeper, more authentic relationship with Jesus is my goal. I’m funny, serious, a bit weird at times, but overall a fun person to hang out with. I’ve been through a lot–just like the rest of humanity and try to use my “a lot” to help others. Connect with me at delivered2thrive.com.