Thursday, December 2, 2010

Under My Skin: Shame

The past two months has been difficult. A dear friend of mine died. The house looked like a wreck (during the renovation). I had to face it everyday. Personal issues were creeping up. And I was not only failing in God's standards, but also in my own standards, in relationships and even in school. I think I could somehow feel and understand David's pain when he wrote, "The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground; he makes me dwell in the darkness like those long dead" in Psalm 143.

God seemed silent. I questioned God in my prayers. I stopped fasting. I kept my distance from my brothers and sisters in Christ. I was angry. I was in pain. Day after day, the more I disliked myself.

My internal strength could barely keep up with my external circumstances. There was no time for healing, or time to catch breath. Then I remembered the painting a pastor told me that won an art contest. The theme of the contest was "Peace." Most of the scenes displayed glorious sunsets, trees, beaches, basically nature at its finest. The winning piece however showed a picture of a bird, white and glowing, standing still on a branch of a tree while there was a raging storm in the dark night. I saw myself in that storm, but unlike the unshaken bird, I was fearful and struggling, trying to cling onto the branch. I told God I missed the old times when I would tell Him, "Alright Father, You and Me against the world!" with a very joyful tone. I felt that because God's with me I would always, always be safe.

In one of my quiet times, God made me dig deep into the gut of my character. Some questions I asked myself: Why did you become a Christian? Have you experienced a very painful event in the past? Did it shape your character? Did it strengthen you too much that you've become "vogue on the outside but vague in the inside"? Did you go to God because you wanted to escape? Was it because of insecurities? Or perhaps a painful event? Have you laid your hurt, hour shame, your weaknesses all out to God? Or are you trying to forget them altogether?

I realized that the things depleting me were very much hooked to my past. It's proven (on TV and in real life :P) that if the past (mistakes, insecurities, pains) is covered by several layers of masks (i.e. success, fame, education, fortune), it will find its way out. It will come out stinkier as time goes by, especially if it is decades pass its expiration date.

I'm sure most of you have experienced something painful in the past. As they say life is a series of ups and downs. However a number of them were probably too painful to handle that they have been repressed in a section of the brain with a KEEP OUT sign. Any hint of memory that leaks out would bring bouts of depression, heaps of anger, or buckets of tears alongside it.

My stinky past seeped through in forms of anger and irritability. They masked a very shameful past. Maybe you can take this time to reflect too. Ask yourself: Were you abandoned? Were you made to feel insignificant? Were you abused? Were you laughed and mocked at? Were you the least favorite? Did you engage in premarital sex? Did you make a very foolish bet? Did you make a massive mistake? Did you fail? Shame always stems out of sin, whether it is your own sin or somebody else's sin.

Unearthing the core of these symptoms were indeed the first step to healing. God opened my eyes to a deeper problem buried under piles of skin. I felt insignificant and worthless. Some people in my past made me feel that I always have to push, to thrive, to get moving and to be productive because for them productivity is equal to worth. And if I don't show them I'm worthy, I'd be neglected like the dead cellphone in my cabinet. Recently, my past attacked me when I had to be at home everyday. Coupled with the fact that I couldn't help much when problems arose, and so I felt my life was meaningless.

I talked to God about how others had treated me. I acknowledged that I was hurt and I needed healing. Then the healing began. God reassured me that my significance comes from Him and not from any other people. I realized that I had been pleasing other people too much in order to see my worth. God told me to look at Him and to see myself in His eyes. Significance is not based on how much successes I've achieved, or how many people I've pleased. Significance is how God sees me!

Then, God made me realize that there's something I needed to do to be fully healed. I have to decide to forgive. To forgive even if they were not deserving. God sent Jesus to die for our sins even if we didn't (and still don't) deserve it anyway. To forgive even if they didn't make right their wrongs. God has forgiven us and called us His children even if He knew there would be more future wrongs. Forgiving can be very difficult, and so let's pray to God persistently as how Jesus has taught us, "Forgive me Father as I forgive those who've sinned against me." It's your ticket to freedom from the clasp of the bitter roots.

God has also placed us in a spiritual family, or in another term, the body of Christ for a reason. We are not alone in this journey. Don't be afraid to seek help. That's what I learned to do. Open up. It's refreshing to share the load that you've long carried. They might also bless you with their God-given wisdom and insight. Also, ask for prayers. Satan is out there to tell you "God is silent," "You are all alone," "Forget about the past. Healing is impossible," "You are hopeless," or "God is like them, He doesn't care."

The past is part of our lives for a reason. Together with our talents and our personalities, God can redeem it for His glory. During the last two months, God has opened my eyes to what was under my skin. And He has led me the time of healing. I thank God for never giving up on me.

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Neither will He give up on you.

3 comments:

  1. Mitzi, you write beautifully. More than that, you are a very reflective person. I was touched by your sharing.I found tears squeezing out of my eyes becauase I can totally relate. Keep writing, Princess.


    Imelda Caravaca-Ferrer

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  2. Hi Imelda! Thank you for your comment. Glad that God has blessed you through this entry. :)

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  3. The challenges and crises of life can tax us to the very end of our strength, and in such times it is easy to want to give up. But James offers followers of Christ another perspective. He says that while life is a battle, it is also a blessing: “Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful” (James 5:11). :)

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