This is a guest post by Ally Hotchkiss.
Shame is a voice I know well.
The enemy continually shoots messages of shame with lies that I’m not a good enough mom, wife, worker, friend, etc, resulting in a seemingly daily battle to trust the voices of God and the safe and trustworthy people He has brought into my life.
I have a chronic and difficult illness that deeply impacts our life.
I am also the mom of two beautiful toddler daughters and the sole income earner for our family, which allows my husband to provide full caregiving for myself and our girls. The illness progressed quickly during my second pregnancy. I shifted from being a fairly average mom of a 1-year-old with a husband working outside the home to quickly losing mobility and an ability to care for myself and daughter in a very short time.
The quick pivot to spending many days in the hospital and becoming disabled brought on an assault of psychological and spiritual struggles. The lies of shame felt like a never-ending battle: “I’m not a good mom because I’m so sick and can’t do very much caregiving, playing or homemaking. Other husbands have a wife who is a more equal partner; he would be better off with someone else. Normal moms are not limited to part-time work. I’m not a good friend because it takes me a long time to reply and I rarely leave my home.”
These lies would kill, steal and destroy if God didn’t continually draw my eyes to focus on His sweet truths: “I love you. I made you. I am not surprised by anything you’re going through. You’re good enough in My eyes. You do not have to fight to please Me.” I only need to trust Him, His strength, His goodness, His faithfulness to bring my family through these hardest years. His grace is enough.
For almost 8 years, I have worked for a ministry named Trueface, an organization that encourages us to look “behind the mask” of shame and performance to a life of authenticity with God and with each other. One of my favorite Trueface phrases is:
“What if there was a place so safe that the worst of you could be known and you would be loved more, not less, in the telling of it?” ~ The Cure, by Trueface
Wow. What a beautiful and warm mental imagery of building a community where we can be real with one another and with our God. Shame thrives in the darkness of solitude. In God’s Kingdom, shame is not welcome. When we authentically speak with the Father about our shame struggles and let Him speak into them, we can find healing and freedom. The same can happen within safe, trustworthy relationships. When we share our struggles, it can allow brilliant light into hidden dark spots. We can step from loneliness into a place of being known and joined in battle. This is what we desire in our home for our girls and in our relationships.
As the battle between shame and grace continues in my own life, I see God’s Hand as He reminds me to be fully present and real in front of Him…He loves our vulnerability. He doesn’t want perfection. He doesn’t need me to try harder to please Him or be a different wife, mom, worker or friend than I am. He uniquely created me, intimately knows me and understands the daily battles. He uses me for His Kingdom just as I am, even with my significant physical limits. I am reminded that the power of the shame voice can be diminished because He is so, so much bigger!
What voice of shame do you hear? Regardless of the season you are in, God is with you, on the good days, the hard days and the days when the enemy’s voice is the loudest with shame. Our Comforter is always present and always ready to wrap you in His strong, unconditional and utterly safe embrace. No matter how you show up. He just wants you to show up.