I was reminded on Friday at work when I made a big literal mess at work when trying to fix an appliance and got submerged in muck that a lot of my struggles in my office are a direct result of shame. I’ve already been overwhelmed with my workload this year, made more mistakes this year than ever (or my perception has make me feel this way) and I’ve felt very low about what I’ve been able to pull off lately. When I saw the mess I made, my arms and shoes covered in ink in front of co-workers I felt it. Shame. When I make mistakes and get yelled at for problems I feel it. Shame.
We all know the phrase “Oh well I’m only human” and yet even as a small Kindergartener I remember vividly even feeling ashamed of myself or things that I didn’t do right even back then. So it’s no surprise that if I could feel those emotions back then having experienced very little that I would also feel that now having gone through much more. I know this feeling well. And though I am pretty good at hiding my sadness, and anger last week I lost it. I burst into tears. I think the combination of people laughing at me in my mess, and being overburdened with work, and full of fear with all of the mistakes I had been making I just felt embarrassed of myself.
In Isaiah 54:4 MSG this verse came up and it brought tears to my eyes today:
Don’t be afraid—you’re not going to be embarrassed.
Don’t hold back—you’re not going to come up short.
You’ll forget all about the humiliations of your youth,
and the indignities of being a widow will fade from memory.
For your Maker is your bridegroom,
his name, God-of-the-Angel-Armies!
Your Redeemer is The Holy of Israel,
known as God of the whole earth.
You were like an abandoned wife, devastated with grief,
and God welcomed you back.
Jesus says not to be ashamed or embarrassed about your past or even your present because He is not ashamed of me so I shouldn’t be either. In His freedom I should live because of what He took from me at the cross and yet it is hard for me not to feel grieved and “widowed” by the abandonments, failures, and other mistakes albeit little work errors currently. I spend a lot of time wondering why I am continuing in what feels like never-ending punishments without relief and why in the interim I can’t perform better than I am. Why am I not better? Why can’t I do better? Even though the workload is unmanageable some days why can’t I just say I’ll do what I can do in my power and then let it go? Why am I hard on myself and then ashamed for whatever I cannot manage?
My hope is that in this season I will continue to fight against my feelings of shame and inadequacy and see that you know what I can make mistakes and even if people dog me for them it does not have to define my character or mar all of the good things I do accomplish.