This morning I lay in bed brooding about some frustrations at work. I had imaginary conversations defending and explaining my point of view. From there I moved to thoughts about church, further defining my position to an imaginary accuser.

I made my way to the breakfast table where I saw a card Nathan and I made for his foster mom in July, folded up and filled with pictures, waiting now for over 3 months to be mailed. I pointed it out to Jason and began defending myself, giving all the reasons why I hadn’t mailed it yet.

Needless to say, I was feeling blue. This was a crummy start to a grey, rainy workday. In trying to explain to Jason what I was feeling, it dawned on me that there is a common thread tying all these thoughts together: Shame.

My entire morning was consumed with feeling ashamed of myself. I know this because my thought life had been spent in defensiveness. When I’m defending myself against imaginary critics, I know that I’m feeling ashamed.

There was no need for me to just make a to-do list and shove some of these problems off my plate. That’s because shame isn’t about doing something wrong, it’s about being something wrong. Being the wrong type of worker. Being the wrong type of church member. Being the wrong type of adoptive mom. I knew that even if all those issues were fixed today, leaving the shame unaddressed would just mean something else would fill the place of those issues. I’d see myself as the wrong type of special needs mom, the wrong type of wife, the wrong type of pregnant lady, the wrong type of homemaker, the wrong type of feminist. The list could go on and on.

So here’s where I tell you what you and I can do about this problem, except the truth is all I can say is “I don’t know.”

Well, I know a little bit. I know I need to acknowledge the root issue is shame and not keep writing to-do lists. I know I need to speak the truth to myself that in Christ I am enough – there is nothing lacking. I know I need to speak other true things to myself – things like

I don’t want to be different than I am. Given a choice of all the personalities in the world I would choose mine.

Just because I have weaknesses doesn’t mean I am a bad person or that I even need to change. 

When people imply that if I was just less needy then I wouldn’t have unmet needs it reflects their own perspective and has no bearing on who I am.

What I don’t know is how to go through life as an imperfect person, mingling with imperfect people who are also very different from me. I don’t know how to easily dispatch the stressful, extroverted, emotionally charged tasks that so often end up on my to-do list highlighting my weaknesses I’d rather keep hidden. I don’t know how to hold a conversation with somebody where we strongly disagree and not get teary, and, well, defensive. I don’t know how to ensure I never wake up feeling broody and blue until it dawns on me that I’m feeling ashamed.

So I keep thinking, and writing, talking, and trying my best to live a balanced life that embraces my strengths and weaknesses. I strive to learn from others and from myself and from the ancient Scriptures, and from the Spirit. And mostly I just get back to my day’s work, the best classroom there is.

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