I couldn’t figure it out at first. I honestly couldn’t identify the emotion, it was different from anything I had ever felt. It was something hanging in the shadows but touching everything in my life.
I had tried to run ……. but I couldn’t out run it
I had tried to hide …… but I couldn’t find any shelter from it
It just kept following me and no matter where I went or what I did, I just couldn’t escape it. However whatever it was, this cancerous emotion, it was ruining my life.
Then yesterday happened……
Yesterday, I had an exhaustive text message exchange with a friend of mine about a decision I had made in my past. I told her that I hoped that when sharing the truth about my life that others wouldn’t make the same choices I had. That living with guilt and regret was painful and if I could spare even one person from that experience it was well worth it. In my mind, it was similar to telling a child not to touch the hot stove because you know the consequence. You’re trying to teach and protect them from getting burnt and then living with the scar as reminder of their reckless decision. However when the exchange was over I sat and thought about how I was feeling for a really long time. I needed to just sit still and live through the emotions I was feeling.
Was this feeling regret? Some of my past decisions had came with a huge cost to me both financially and emotionally, but I no longer felt sad. If I had to do some things over again In light of what I now know would I make a different decision? Of course we all would. However all of those life defining decisions I have learned from and they have strengthened me and made me a better person in a lot of ways. So no, it wasn’t regret.
Was this feeling guilt? I did feel guilt early on for making decisions that hurt others and for violating my own moral standards. However, I had asked for forgiveness from the very person I vowed to have and to hold till death do us part. I remember all too vividly having a melt down begging for forgiveness. When I was done sobbing he looked at me and said he had gotten over it a long time ago, that it was okay and that he forgave me. It was what it was, we had a good run but it ended (his words….).
So, if it’s not regret and it’s not guilt ….. what is it that I’m feeling?
Then it hit me, like a Mack truck …… Shame. Mine even had a name ……. Failure. There it was staring at me …… my life ……. the only real test we all must endure and I had managed to convince myself that I had failed. I was listening to the voice that had convinced me that my failures are not only a result of my past decisions but that failure is who I had become.
Everyday I am reminded of my failure by people who love and care about me. I know that they are just trying to share their love and concern for me. Instead of feeling grateful for what they do for me, I perceive it as charity and this wave of shame from my past failure crashes over me. As I begin to drown, panic sets in and I scramble out of the water. I look around for my familiar North Face gear and start the trek up Shame Mountain. I stop at base camp and collect the rest of my failures and then I continue …… all the way to the summit and set up camp, determined to spend the balance of my life alone on Shame Mountain…..
Today, however as I sit perched on the summit of Shame Mountain, looking out at the vastness of life before me, I am painfully aware that God would never want me to die on my mountain of shame. I am reminded that God so loved me that he gave his one and only Son, and that if I believe in him I shall not parish but have eternal life. (John 3:16) Sometimes I struggle to take hold of that promise, I can’t wrap my head around eternal life, but what I do know is that this life is too short to spend on Shame Mountain. Starting today I need to forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead. I need to press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)
So, I’m saying goodbye to Shame Mountain today. Climbing Shame Mountain cost me way to much, NorthFace Gear is really expensive. I won’t be coming back.
His for sowing,
Tiffany currently descending Shame Mountain …..