Hope Beyond the Just

musing-girl-silhouette-1122905-mLast week, I met another creative who said, “I’m just a beginning writer.” I understood what he meant, of course, but I wondered about that little word “just.”

How many times do we use “just” to describe ourselves, not realizing that in the process – we are embracing shame.

“I’m just a beginning writer.”

“I’m just a housewife.”

“I’m just the receptionist.”

To be authentic persons, I believe we should eradicate this use of “just” from our vocabulary.

None of us are “just” anything and when we put ourselves down, we throw ourselves into the trash bag of a “less than” mentality. Any type of emotional trash bag will suffocate us.

“I’m just” is another way of stating, “I’m not enough.” Not rich enough. Not smart enough. Not accomplished enough.

And when we shame ourselves, we become our own judge by comparing our worth to another person.

God never shames us. He never says, “You need to be like that person over there.” Instead, he promises he has a good plan for our lives, for each of us, based on who he created us to be.

Sure, we creatives strive to learn more about writing and become best-selling authors. That’s one of my goals. But even if that never happens, if my words touch ONE heart, if even one person finishes my books with a lesson learned or a nugget of joy intact – that’s success.

Being a housewife, keeping the home operational and raising the children is one of the highest forms of work because it influences the next generation. Just a housewife? Not possible. Wouldn’t it be more uplifting to say, “I am so privileged to be a housewife.”

Anyone who works in an office knows the receptionist is the first line of defense. This important person schedules the daily activities, keeps everything going smoothly and greets customers with a smile. He or she may not earn the salary of the person in the corner office, but just try operating a business without a front office person. “Just” does not begin to describe the value of an efficient and welcoming receptionist.

So instead of thinking of ourselves as “just” anything, let’s look in the mirror and say, “Hey there, Wonderful! God has a good plan for you today, and you’re the only person in the world who can do it. You are enough. March forward with hope for an even better future.”

©2015 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

Image attributed to www. sxc.hu.

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Hope Eliminates Shame

A memory from my past whispers, “Shame on you,” and suddenly I am four years old again. I have spilled melted ice cream on the floor. An accident. A lack of mature motor skills. I know that now, but my four year-old self only heard the phrase, “Shame on you.” authenticity - shame

Last week, I finished the book “Daring Greatly” by Brené Brown and once again, I wondered about shame. How many times was shame placed irreverently and inadvertently on my infant soul?

How many times did I believe it, and invite that verdict inward so that as an adult, I am still reeling from the impact?

Shame began in the Garden of Eden when Adam said, “This woman you gave me….” He blamed Eve for the sin of eating the fruit, and he blamed God for giving him a woman who was not perfect. The serpent, aka Satan, used that seed of shame and since then has perpetrated this disease on all of Eve’s daughters.

Men also struggle with shame. When someone reminds them they are less than perfect – not a stud on the football field, not enough as a husband and father, not as handsome as Colin Firth (but of course – no one can compare to Colin Firth).

And on and on the shame goes, through the generations. We shame our children and each other. Why can’t you be like your brother?  Why are you bringing home a “C” when you should have earned an “A”?

Shouldn’t you lose a little bit of weight? Wear a different shade of makeup? Be more like the family in the pew ahead of you? Isn’t it past time for you to have a best seller?

And before we know it, we are again wallowing in puddles of muddy shame.

In our hearts, we know God does not place blame and shame on us. Yet, our brains play the same old tapes.

What Brené Brown writes about with such audacity is that becoming our vulnerable selves faces off against the shame and helps us be who God created us to be.

The joy of finding our authentic selves and living out of that reality is that no one can ever shame us again. 

I pray to God that I never shame my son or anyone else. To my knowledge, I have never used those words, “Shame on you,” and I hope I never imply them by rolled eyes, a sideways glance or a snickering sarcasm.

My hope is built on the fact that I am accepted by grace – with no qualifiers, and I want to extend that same grace to others. Because who we are is much more important than what we do or even what we never accomplish.

And even if the world and our culture doesn’t understand the difference, at least my soul knows the Divine one will never ever shame me.

Let’s challenge each other to be our authentic selves, to lay down our whispered past and find hope in the coming eternity. Let’s live out our lives in joyful abandon, always and forever — without shame.

©2015 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh