It’s a question we seldom voice but is being answered anyway. A multitude of images, voices, nuances, remind us daily, without fail, that we are ‘not [_____] enough.
[insert: fit, smart, wealthy, liked, connected, fashionable, loved, respected, successful.]
This friends, is the voice of the shame. Author Curt Thompson calls the little voice in our head reminding us of our short-comings our Shame Assistant. I like to call that implicit voice my Shame Butler. Yep, my Shame Butler is right there when I wake in the morning to remind me that I’m tired and shouldn’t have stayed up talking till 11 PM. He’s faithfully there to tell me my T-shirt looks old and that I really should be reading my bible before I read my emails. As I look in the mirror on the way to the shower my Shame Butler reminds me I should work out. And he’s faithfully there to remind me that my 18 year old car is old, embarrassing, and makes me look poor as I drop the kids off at school, ‘You should get a new car’, he often reminds me. And this is all before 8am! All day he picks away at my humanity; that which my Creator calls ‘very good’. Ever notice how full of should our Shame Butlers are?
But, I’m slowly learning to discern the voice of my Shame Butler and his covert operation is being exposed. I have discovered some ways to shut the pesky little shouldhead up. Now, I can report that I tried declaring Scripture at him and telling him what I think I know about myself but he’s so irrational. I have tried crafting a public persona that looks more acceptable to my peers and even leveraged social media in this campaign but that seemed to make things worse. You see, shame operates in the realm of feelings and emotions so don’t bother arguing facts and trying to convince your Shame Butler with performance-based Likes and applause. I should also mention that he’s also impossible to ignore, so ignorance doesn’t really work either. You’re welcome.
So here’s the strategy; I’ve been blowing his cover and instead of hiding, I’ve embraced more and more of my weaknesses, limitations and losses, and brought them into the light off my Creator and a community of others who are committed to loving me. My Shame Butler’s ‘not enoughs’ are being overruled and silenced by vulnerability and being lovingly known by those who I have a covenant connection and safe relationship with. I have also found that if I limit exposure to people, messages and events that reinforce my Shame Butlers script, he’s less likely to speak with the authority of allies.
Friends, I don’t know if our Shame Butlers will never leave us, but I do know we can send them on extended breaks and gradually challenge and silence their ‘not enoughs’ with the Good News message of ‘Loved and accepted as I am.’ Slowly but surely, if we allow ourselves to be known, the True Narrator of our story will scorn shame and we’ll be able to hear the glorious songs of grace and redemption He’s singing over us. [Heb 12:1,2]