It has been a year and a half since I first wrote about my shame blanket. In some ways, my shame blanket is far behind me because of my growth. If I’m honest, I often carrying that blankie around like Charlie Brown’s little friend Linus.
What I’ve learned about my shame blanket goes beyond just saying I need to drop it, surrender from this bad view of myself.
Here is what I’ve learned about my shame blanket.
My blanket shields my eyes and heart from distinguishing my feelings.
When I am in the darkness of shame, I cannot distinguish what I am feeling or why I am feeling it. Under the blanket, every bad feeling is because of the badness of me.
The truth about feelings is that naming what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling it is extremely important in emotional health. What I did in the past was felt shame for the bad feeling and powered through whatever was in front of me until I hit a wall I could not see because my eyes were in the darkness of shame.
I closed my eyes and worked.
I closed my heart and served.
I closed my spiritual eyes and missed the Father trying to lift my head.
When I would hit a wall, there would be such a jumble of emotions that there was no sorting through the mess. Like those plastic slinkies sold by that Asian company Sunday school teachers frequent, it is a tangled mess. Those things should come with a sticker that says, “Save your sanity by inserting into a trashcan promptly after ten minutes use.”
When I can recognize I’m feeling feelings, set my shame aside, give myself permission to open my eyes and heart to interpret just what those feelings are, then straightening the jumble is possible.
When you’ve realized what the feeling is you are feeling — actually named it, you can gently ask yourself, Why am I feeling this? Here’s where having clear eyes, unencumbered with the despised shame blanket, is so advantageous. Feelings are tricky. Sometimes you are feeling a feeling that is perfectly reasonable. The situation you find yourself in is the exact situation that would cause this exact feeling in any human that had a non-stone heart. In that case, you can tell yourself, This feeling is legitimate. My circumstances are not good therefore I am feeling not good.
Sometimes feelings are liars. Sometimes we feel something and it isn’t true. This is the reason that feelings get such a bad rap. Feelings aren’t facts. In this case, you remind yourself of the facts. You fill your mind with truth and pray your heart will catch on.
No matter what, shame is never the answer.
The problem perpetuates itself when we attach shame to certain feelings.
I should never feel unappreciated because then I’m not being humble.
I should never feel hurt because then I’m not forgiving.
I should never feel helpless because then I don’t have faith.
I should never feel fearful because then I’m a bad Christian.
I should never feel lonely because then I’m forgetting God is always with me.
I should never feel disappointed because God has a plan.
We are not bad for feeling unappreciated, hurt, helpless, fearful, lonely, disappointed or any other feeling. It is not a sin to feel a feeling. Denying you have those feelings to seem holy to yourself or others is harmful. Our righteousness does not stem from our ability to deny feelings, put on a happy face, or become numb to negative feelings. Our righteousness comes from Jesus.
Jesus had feelings.
Emotionally healthy Christians have feelings.
We are skipping a step in our emotional health when we deny our feelings and jump to, “God’s good and I’m good.” Let’s go through the steps of feeling unappreciated. 1. I recognize I feel unappreciated. 2. I realize why I feel unappreciated when I see circumstances in my life that would cause anyone to feel that way. 3. I’ve named my feeling. I remind myself that this is a valid feeling in this situation. 4. I pray that God would change those circumstances because everyone deserves to feel appreciated. 5. I remind myself how God feels about me — I am radically loved by Him, He loves a cheerful giver, and Jesus can relate to feeling unappreciated. 6. I am full in Him, and although it would have been nice, I can live without appreciation from others.
We have worked through that feeling without shame and covered in His grace, mercy, and righteousness. A shame blanket would have clouded that process and put a stop to the process at step one.
As children of God, we have to remind ourselves we are clothed in the splendid robe of righteousness instead of in the dark covering of shame.
Our robe of righteousness aids our emotional heath by giving us real security.
Our robe of righteousness does not mask our ability to distinguish our feelings because we are wearing that robe solely because of Jesus. It is holy and good, and our Father sees us as holy and good because we are covered in His righteousness and kept in His care.
When we are wearing our robe, we have no shame before God as we work through our feelings honestly. We can acknowledge the truth of our circumstances that exist in our life in the fallen world. We can put a name to what we are feeling. Naming things is good. (It is the actual oldest profession, and Adam was the OG Namer.)
We can ask ourselves why we have the feelings we do without shame. We can determine if our feelings fit the circumstance. We can ask God to change our circumstances if they do. If our feelings are lying to us, contradicting His love for us, we can ask God to help us open our hearts to the truth.
I love the Nick Drake-ness of this song. Excited for this new album.