Last week, over dinner, Tim said, “Susie, I think you are a great mom, but I am kind of sick of the road block I hit when I try to express that to you. So I’m not going to try to tell you that you’re a great mom anymore because there is such strong resistance in your mind, and you just cannot receive my words.”
I didn’t really like being called out on my shame fest. I know how frustrating it is to offer encouragement to someone, only to be met with a stonewall of resistance because the other person just cannot accept the compliment. I was a little shocked that my shame had reached this level in my life and was creating a rift between Tim and me.
I have had to admit that Tim’s observation was true. All my traveling away from Russell recently has left me feeling like a bad mom. The weight of that self-doubt and self-criticism is unbearable. I don’t know any parents who do not at least occasionally question whether they are doing a good job. Parenting is a big task, and there is no manual. Still, I don’t want to live in shame. I don’t want my shame to shape my sense of worth and purpose. I want God to shape my life. I want my roles as mother, wife, and pastor to be grounded in God’s love, grace, and wisdom.
So I told Tim I’d make him a deal. If he would agree to keep offering encouragement and affirmation, I would agree to change my response – even if it were forced and fake at first. I told him that if he tries to compliment me or encourage me about my parenting, I will immediately drop onto one knee and say, “Yes!” like a quarter-back scoring in the end zone of a football game. I figured dramatic measures are called for in drastic circumstances.
The truth is that I am a good parent. Not always, and not perfectly, but I am doing my best, and God offers me grace for the rest. The same is true for you.
So, wherever your shame resides, I invite you to join me on a counter-mission to try to re-wire and exchange your self-critical thoughts for God’s thoughts. The truest thing about you is not what you say about yourself in your head. The truest thing about you is what God says about you, and He says you are deeply loved. The Bible says that perfect love casts out fear. God invites us to live in His perfect love. This love has the power to transform us from the inside out, if we’ll only receive and abide in His love.
So, the next time someone offers you kind words about an area of your life where you feel discouraged and unworthy, please do an end-zone dance for me, to God’s glory.
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” -2 Cor. 3:18