My Battle With Shame & Jesus

There’s unspeakable shame in being disabled. No one would ever say that, but every disabled person struggles with not believing the lie. (My dear friends, it is in fact, a lie.) Every time their body leads them to a hospital, sleepless nights, scary conversations, backing out of responsibilities, or even merely asking a friend to help in an otherwise simple task, their tears can be summed up in one word:

Shame.

It’s hard to understand the shame; as it should be. When loved ones whisper to their disabled family member, “You did nothing wrong,” all that’s said in return is, “I’m sorry, I’m so, so sorry.” Sorry for inconveniencing, sorry for causing worry, sorry for being a burden…

The shame leads to fear. I wish it didn’t, but it does. Questions like, “Why do you love me?” become mental thermometers to that person’s value because, well, obviously no one would want to be be coupled with the “perceived shame” of a disabled person. The best effort is made in making sure the discrepancy is never seen, or if it ever is, only through the veil of humor and lighthearted playfulness. 

Battling that shame as a Christian is a minute-by-minute battle. I cling to passages like John 9 when Jesus declares that the man in question was born blind in order to show God’s glory to those watching. We live in an imperfect, sinful world. Somehow, God uses those imperfections to make His name famous. He doesn’t make mistakes.

… I’m not a mistake…? When my body forces me to need my closest companion, I sure as heck feel like a mistake. 

1 Corinthians 12:22-25b says, “On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.”

No one wants to be the “weaker link.” We often laugh at that concept because we want to tell ourselves we aren’t the “weaker one.” But when we are… this passage becomes simultaneously comforting and terrifying. 

It’s comforting because we’re constantly reminded that God sees us. Its terrifying because we have to come to terms with the fact that our  “discrepancies” are more for the benefit of someone else rather than ourselves. If God gave us these limitations in order to sow the body of Christ together in a more genuine way…

How dare we feel shame?
 

Terrified Truth-Speaker

I have a shepherd’s heart that comes to life when I write. There are a million things I could write about to challenge thought and prayerfully provoke change in our failing world. But I don’t. There are just as many things I could cut up into a four-part series and feed to you bit-by-bit to increase my readership. But I don’t. 

Why? 

Because we now live in a world where when truth is spoken, we feel attacked, undervalued and demoralized. When truth is spoken, we don’t often change our respective lives to rise to such truth. Instead, we shut our ears, close our eyes and scream, “That’s not nice! That’s not nice! I thought you liked me!” 

And before you turn me over to the firing squad, please know I’m the worst of the worst. I may have a shepherding heart, but I absolutely detest getting corrected, challenged or criticized.

I used to rub shoulders with homeless druggies, drunks and all around God-haters (yay, job!). In those circles, I had no fear blatantly sharing truth. They were so desperate for help, they welcomed the times I willingly adopted their rhetoric but spoke truth. They weren’t “nice” in their responses, but it was obvious truth went soul-deep.

I’m more hesitant to share truth with a fellow Christian because of how they’ll respond than I ever was calling a meth addict to attention. So, because my skin has been bruised by a follower of Christ a time or two, I’ve stopped sharing truth that needs to be heard. 

It’s funny, really. Up until this week, I blamed everyone but myself for how weak American Christianity has become. But the fact is, I’ve stopped heralding life-changing truth because, well, because I want to be liked? Crap, maybe I’m a part of the problem.

So, for that, forgive me. I seem to have slipped up and forgotten what being a Truth-speaker is all about. Truth — actual truth — is a conduit to soul-deep change, which honestly isn’t fun at the onset.

But oh, hallelujah, it’s a glorious thing when a sinner like me sees God’s Son despite my wretchedness. Writing simply to tickle your ears isn’t worth you missing out on seeing the same miracle in your own life.

When Vanity Speaks

I growled at my reflection this morning (not a normal practice). “You have got to be kidding me!” I mumbled as I rolled my eyes. It was one red, slightly swollen pimple. On a 26-year-old. Skin allergies to my favorite stress food don’t take day off. As I quickly recounted my last three days of existence, I rolled my eyes even harder (is it possible to do that?).

One piece. Of chocolate. Uno. Singular. ONE! That’s what caused the stupid blemish on my face. Three days ago, I might add. As I glared at my reflection, I sarcastically confessed my “sin” of endulging in chocolate with with slight hopes that my action would make it disappear. No such luck. Apparently, the idea that acne disappears after you’re done growing up (at 5′ .5″, that’s a relative statement), doesn’t count for me. 

As I slipped into my comfy shorts, I sighed unhappily realizing that, though I’ve lost weight, I’ve gained muscle. All that means, for you patient men reading this, is the number isn’t shrinking as fast as I want it to (yesterday?). It’s just a number, but it’s a number that verifies I like eating, I’m comfortable in my body and… Well… I am well aware that my hips don’t react well to my addiction to salt and chips.

Because I spent my adolescent years drastically ill, my body didn’t have time to worry about weight or skin allergies. Eating chocolate meant I could wake up without drinking coffee — which often caused seizures. Eating chips meant my 85 pound frame might rise to a slightly more acceptable weight of 87; which I promptly worked off by having four or five more seizures. 

I may have looked model thin and not had to wrestle with the finer points of vanity, but it wasn’t worth it.

We often forget that blemishes, frustrations and the stupid things that distract us from God are there to prove we’ve lived. For God-honoring Christians, they’re also there to remind us that even in the mundane, we need God. 

It’s a stupid example, really. But this morning I was reminded that enjoying life often leaves its trace. May we learn to glory in the fact that the Creator has given us the ability to live. Maybe someday, we’ll learn to treasure the markings of life because the truth is, living fully is something not given to everyone.