Shame

Finding Forgiveness in Confession

Blows that wound cleanse away evil;
beatings make clean the innermost parts.
Proverbs 20:30 NRSV

We see sin in ourselves most often when we are in pain. In fact, it often takes the hard circumstances in life for us to even stop and listen to God. And He uses those hard circumstances to keep us from running off the precipice of the cliff of sin.

It happened, late one afternoon, when David rose from his couch and was walking about on the roof of the king's house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful. 3 David sent someone to inquire about the woman. It was reported, "This is Bathsheba daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite." 2 Samuel 11:2-3 NRSV

Most of us are familiar with the adulterous affair of David and Bathsheba, the wife of one of his commanders. The Israelites built homes with flat roofs and used their roofs for rest and relaxation when it was warm. Whether or not Bathsheba chose to bath on the roof hoping to catch the eye of the king, at that moment David was presented with a choice. He didn't have to ask who she was; he could have averted his eyes. He didn't.

The result of their extended affair was that Bathsheba got pregnant. In a fit of panic, David ordered her husband, Uriah, to the front where he was logically killed. David then took Bathsheba into his home (and his bed) and his wife, thinking that his sin had been unseen. I'm sure that he believed that he was doing the "right" thing by marrying Bathsheba, that this marriage was a sign of penance toward God. But God wasn't fooled. Manipulation is never part of repentance. Yes, we are to make restitution, but first comes confession. And David hadn't confessed.

Surviving an Abusive Childhood

Whether it's been through abuse or disorder, I learned to fear.

Child development experts state that newborns have only two fears: loud noises and falling. Babies' brains and nerves grow rapidly in the first two years of life, but they are born with very immature nervous systems. This means that they cannot interpret or handle certain sensory input -- like loud noises or the feeling of falling.

So, that means, all other fears are learned.

That's certainly been my experience. Growing up with an abusive dad, there was always this "or else" undercurrent of dread. My life experiences with conditional love further sealed the deal to the performance-based nature to both love and life:

"I desperately wanted my dad to notice me. I learned very quickly that one surefire way to do that was by winning awards. When I won something, I wasn't completely worthless or useless. I was productive; I was 'earning my keep.' I set impossible standards for myself. Try as I might with award after award, I'd eventually disappoint everyone, including myself, proving that I wasn't worth anything after all.

My perfect attendance record in school is an excellent example. For three years in a row, I did not missed one day of school, knowing that I would win a perfect attendance certificate, tangible proof on paper that I was worthwhile. It became a standard I had to maintain because my dad seemed pleased in my performance. Of course, he never said that he was proud of me, but he did lay off the criticisms briefly. So for the next few years, I went to school with colds, sore throats and influenza. I remember going to school once with a temperature of over 101, sitting at my desk, on the verge of throwing up, yet only thinking of that certificate.

Harmful Body Image Perceptions

I admit it, I love guilty pleasure chick flicks. And one which fully engages all of my angst-driven feminine drama is the 1981 film, "Mommie Dearest," starring Faye Dunaway as the legendary screen star, Joan Crawford. The movie was based on the tell-all book written by the star's adopted daughter, Christina Crawford.

It's now become a part of popular culture. We've heard one of the most famous lines repeated in jokes and commentary. According to the book and film, Christina endured a traumatic rage episode in which her mother, having a meltdown, snaps when she sees a wire hanger in Christina's closet. I guess only satin and lace hangers were acceptable. Whatever that represented to Ms. Crawford, she became unhinged, shrieking the now famous line, "No wire hangers ever!" From there, Ms. Crawford throws all of the dresses out of the closet, onto to floor and proceeds to beat Christina with the wire hanger, all, of course, in an emotional upset. There was crying and screaming from both mother and daughter.
I know, fun times.

So, why am I mentioning this? The wire hangers made me recall an article I read on the fashion industry. Stay with me now. The question asked was concerning why models had to be so thin for the clothes the designers made. The answer given? Models were to be the clothes hangers;

Do You Have a Pinocchio Nose?

He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper. But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion. Proverbs 28:13

Pinocchio - the adorable little story about a marionette who wants to become a real boy. It touches on this real theme, as well as the power of dreaming and the ability to love.

And yes, there's also the lesson about lying, hence Pinocchio's growing nose every time he tells a fib.

And that reminds me about the often chaotic journey of recovery when it comes to our addictions, compulsions and issues.

A lot of us having growing noses, don't we?

Addiction - related issues are subtle, tricky things which seem to sneak up on us from "out of nowhere." A lot of us may not look "the type." We may not look like such creatures as an alcoholic, a drug addict or a person struggling with eating disorders. We may appear to have "normal" looking noses, so to speak.

Do You Have a Diligently Kept Heart?

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."
Proverbs 4:23

Recently, I caught a documentary about the Japanese film director and animator, Hayeo Miyazaki. He's creator of anime feature films including, "My Neighbor Totoro" and "The Wind Rises."

Anyway, during this documentary, Miyazaki talked about his father and the impact he had on his world view:

"Being welcomed instead of being chased out probably shaped the way this man looked at the world."
~Hayao Miyazaki

The power of this statement hit me. Looking at this man's countenance, his joyful and peacefully optimistic demeanor shouts the sentiment loud and clear.

As I've been in recovery from both my disordered eating/image and abuse issues, I've had to look long and hard at the state of my heart. It's unflattering and painful to do so, yet quite necessary.

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalms 139:23-24

Our Ultimate Beauty Tip?

Change is a constant in life. And, with my recovery work concerning disordered image issues, this principle has become abundantly clear.

I recently came across some beauty tips, published in 1908; they include the following from Amy Ayer's, Facts for Ladies, Cora Brown Potter's The Secrets of Beauty and Mysteries of Health and My Lady Beautiful, Or, The Perfection of Womanhood by Alice M. Long. I've included them, along with their original 1908 sales pitches.

Brace yourself.

First, there are the meat facials...

"Many Parisian ladies, in the secrecy of their own chambers, on retiring at night, or some part of the day, bind their faces with thin slices of raw beef or veal. For several years a popular lady has used this remedy to feed the tissues of the face, with remarkable results. At thirty-eight she has the complexion and skin of a girl of eighteen."

My Two Cents...

I don't care how young you look; you still smell like meat. Last time I checked, that was not a fragrance made by Chanel. Plus, let's get real. How many ingénues do you actually see with beef on their faces?

Recovery: Practice, Practice, Practice

When I was in kindergarten, I took dance class, with emphasis on ballet and tap. At least once a week, I attended these classes, held in Mrs. Taylor's basement. My strongest memories were the gigantic black bow pinning the back of her bun hairstyle and the 45 records we were given to practice our routines. I especially remember "Alley Cat" and "Practice, Practice, Practice." I spent hours in my tap shoes, striving for improvement on a square piece of plywood. After a while, I grew to dislike that song immensely. "Practice," after all, was tedious, boring and frustrating.

Little did I know, however, so often, would life be as well.

According to the famous myth, the character of Sisyphus was condemned to an eternity of hard labor. For a crime against the gods, his assignment was to roll a great boulder to the top of a hill. Each time he completed this task, requiring tremendous effort, reaching the summit, the boulder rolled back downhill again.

Tedious, boring and frustrating...

I recently came across this famous Margaret Thatcher quote:

Denial: Trying to Disguise the Truth

What Cracker?

He who covers his sins will not prosper: but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. Proverbs 28:13

Denial: it's a ridiculous looking thing.

I once saw a photograph of a mouse, looking straight at the camera, cheeks puffed out to a Saltine's square shape. And the tag line attached was "What cracker?"

It made me think of my own erratic disordered eating behaviors, including stealing my roommates' food and dumpster diving.

"...I thought I was hiding my secret well from the outside world. I replenished the food I'd stolen from my roommates. I played ‘beat the clock' before they came home to notice...

...It became a regular hide and steal, hide and eat, hide and deny game... I knew their schedules by heart. I'd wait for them to leave for class. I'd hurry home, skipping my own classes to ensure enough time alone... I had to eat as much as I could before they came home...

... I'd be first to volunteer among my roommates to take out the trash, because I knew what ‘goodies' I'd thrown out...

...Trips to the dumpster at 2:30 a.m. were not unusual... I'd rummage through other people's trash bags...

...I was caught on more than one occasion. I'd try to play it off, pretending everything was normal as people passed by me scrounging in the dumpster. As I became more desperate, however, I began going to the dumpster frequently in broad daylight while other students were coming and going from class... I tried to convince myself I could ‘just act natural' and disguise the truth..."

I was asking, "What Cracker?"

You Belong!

The longing to belong is very powerful and foundational to our sense of self. But there is an infinitely greater pull -- Father's. He is constantly seeking us out and calling our heart to his!

"My son, give me your heart." Proverbs 23:26

When we respond to this call it becomes a homecoming. The prodigal came to himself while slopping hogs and experienced a homecoming that he never imagined possible. How about you? Do you know beyond a shadow of doubt that you belong? Don't allow anyone to tell you something else.

Make sure no outsider who now follows God ever has occasion to say, "God put me in second-class. I don't really belong." Isaiah 56:2 Msg

There are religious outsiders who will judge you. Their only agenda is dissuading your journey to Father's heart. As a matter of fact they don't even understand the conversation of the heart. Belonging empowers you to embrace and live in Grace. Belonging is the path to love. And belonging is bigger and louder than the voices of rejection.

To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God's grace means. (Brennan Manning)

Even the darker parts of our journey become a homecoming. In the state of belonging we can truly rest. Read the following scriptures and settle in to belonging.

Are Negative Emotions Controlling You?

Emotions play a big role in our life. They are active and alive twenty-four hours a day, even in our dreams. Emotions literally tell us what to do with our marriage, family, job, career, self, and how we love others. If we don’t control the course that our emotions run, we might be heading down the road towards destruction.

Are you allowing emotions to control your life?

When was the last time you got angry? What do you do when your friend turns their back on you? What do you do when your spouse disrespects you? What do you do when your children continue to misbehave?

What happens if your emotions tell you that you don't love your spouse anymore? What are you going to do? Do you let jealousy and resentment tell you what to do in certain circumstances?

Before we can understand the full potential of our self and our emotions we need to understand a little bit about who we are, and why we do and say the things we do. How do we handle our selves with certain issues and particular circumstances?

What do we do when conflict rears its ugly head in our marriage? We get emotional, right? We lash out with anger, or we clam up in resentment, or express our self improperly. Are we letting our emotions rule our marriage, our self, and our life?

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