My kids love to go to the playground. It’s one of those with the small brown, tan, and white pea pebbles that cover the ground. The ones that lodge between your flip flop and the bottom of your foot. Those tiny round rocks that dig and press until they find your most-sensitive nerve endings, like some kind of Chinese torture, forcing you to yell “Uncle!” or something worse. Are you there? Can you hear the crunch and grind under your shoes?
I’ve been reluctant to share anything spiritual or vulnerable lately, for fear of it being ripped to shreds by ‘the world’ or over-analyzed by Christians. But vulnerability is beautiful and it inspires me to do better; to be better. I’ve been walking around wearing shame like an overcoat. Each shortcoming and mistake has added to the weight of that coat, like one of those little playground pebbles. I took the pebbles at first, placing them one-by-one into the pockets of my coat. I was able to ignore them and continue to function, but even tiny rocks become heavy after a while.
Last Sunday, during a powerful worship song I heard a whisper from my Father:
My love, there is so much shame attached to your mistakes. Please, lay that burden down and open your eyes to the beauty and purpose right in front of you. Your life may not look anything like you expected at this point, but I’ve got you right where I want.
And the tears flowed.
As the music played and the singers sang, people raised hands and hearts to heaven. Standing there, I began to realize: we think about our own mistakes more than anyone around us. There’s the shame, there’s that sense of being stuck, the fear that holds us back. And it does hold us back. When we focus on the burdens that we were never meant to carry, we aren’t able to experience joy, peace, and transformation on a daily basis. The pockets begin to bulge and the weight of the coat pulls down on our shoulders. Shame is that way; it just never quite seems to fit.
I vow to let go of past failures and strengthen what remains so I can be a better version of myself each day. Not let go of them completely, as in forget them, but take my fear, shame, mistakes and misgivings, and put them under my feet.
I will stay connected to God, moment by moment, and simply but clearly communicate my struggles and feelings. By naming the issues I face and calling them out, I allow God to make my obstacles powerless…or at least, show me how to handle them.
I will empty the pebbles from my pockets and stand firm. With the faith of a mustard seed, I will see the mountain move underneath my feet. I will use my past to point me higher, closer to God, and I will trust in His faithfulness.
“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered in shame.” Psalm 34: 4-6