A couple weeks ago, my husband and I took a much anticipated trip to celebrate our wedding anniversary. As we flew above the clouds toward the East Coast, I commented how wonderful and rare and exciting it was just to be on a plane alone together (read: without our precious offspring). In my book, this trip was already spectacular, and we hadn’t even landed at our destination!
After we did arrive at our journey’s end and grabbed our luggage, we walked the short distance to the rental car company where David had made our reservation, and we picked up the keys to our car. After walking outside the building to where the cars sat in tidy rows, David walked up to one, threw a look over his shoulder my way and said, “This is it right here!”
I immediately halted and stared at him.
For standing before me was a little sporty convertible.
I stammered out, “What in the world?! Are you sure this is our car?”
He nodded, I blinked. I know full well how my husband takes pleasure in surprising me, but this just seemed too much.
You see, dearies, I drive a twelve-year-old minivan. A sensible minivan with numerous quirks and dings that testify to every inch of traveling our family has done in that twelve year time. What’s more, I drive the baby car of the family as David’s truck is eighteen years old. So as I stared at this un-sensible, ultra extravagant car, I just couldn’t fathom that it belonged to us for the next several days.
My first, second, and third thought remained the same: What business do David and I have in this sporty thing?
With that trip now in our rear view mirror, I roll my eyes at myself. After all, we’re talking about driving a convertible for five days, not blowing our budget to buy one we can’t use or afford.
But I annoyed myself that as our anniversary celebration barely opened its eyes, I allowed shame to take quite a bit of room in my view.
Shame works that way, doesn’t it? Give it an inch, it’ll take ten miles. It kicks in the front door of your heart and stares you down with squinty eyes and pointing fingers. Sometimes, like with this convertible, it tries to squash the joy found in a genuine blessing. Other times it’s more sinister and ugly, shouting at how you’ll never get past that terrible thing or always be a victim of your circumstances. In big and small ways, it hisses questions like:
What business do you have receiving this?
Who do you think you are?
Why can’t you get your act together — and keep it together?
And if you’re me in the Hertz parking lot, it says get your tail back in a minivan where you belong, foolish girl.
Shame will do anything to keep you from living in the light. It works to make you feel small in a bad way, suggesting you are too puny to pull this off.
But shame has a twin sister who also works to make you feel bad in a big way, and she says things like how dare you enjoy what you don’t deserve! What’s more, shame stops nothing short of coercing you into a strong apology for having the audacity to exist in the first place.
With help from my husband who is a sensible perspective-keeper, I thankfully snapped to attention and stopped allowing shame to boss me. I was able to name it for what it was: something from the enemy rather than from God. The enemy tries to distract us from the big picture, and God simply invites redirection back to it.
And that big picture is this: Jesus came so you may have life to the full — for His glory and your benefit.
I am thankful for and content with our wonky family minivan, the same car that long ago brought my baby girl home from the hospital and is now a functional tool for helping my sons learn to drive. And I will not let shame shove me toward any place other than gratitude for taking a week long spin in a convertible.
I will not hide in the back seat of my own life. And for that glorious anniversary, not hiding in the back seat of life looked like sitting in the front seat of a convertible, smiling wild and free with wind-whipped hair and sun-warmed skin.
And simply but boldly telling God thank you for every moment.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I get caught in this same trap also…confusing shame for humility. I think that when we try to live with a humble heart, shame has a way of pushing herself into the doorway that we open. I have felt a lot of shame lately as I have been working with Redeemer Christian School in Pakistan. These children, the least of these, have barely a roof over their head if they have even that, and I look around my home and shame hisses and points her finger. I am grateful and I do give generously, but I need to allow myself to enjoy the “life to the full” that God has given me and kick shame to the curb. Thanks for this spot-on post Kristen…I needed this!
Blessings and ((hugs)),
It’s a balance, isn’t it Bev? Giving well without giving in to the shame. As always, I’m so thankful for your thoughtful words here!
Wow, Bev, that statement really stood out to me…”confusing shame for humility…”
Yes, this is soooo easily done.
THANK YOU for your insights!!
As James says in the New Testament, “all good and perfect gifts are from above coming down from the Father…” I think we don’t realize just how wide and abundant that range of gifts really is! Fun post! Thanks for writing this – we need to receive so much more of His gifts with joy and delight! Your post gives me permission to enjoy ALL His gifts, all the more!
That’s what I’m working on–the receiving without the shame. Thanks for giving me good words here to receive as well, Maria. What a gift you are.
Joanne Peterson says
I also feel guilty when I see all the needs around me, and those who do not have their basic needs, or have so little. I am grateful for God’s abundant provision, and for His hand and His face. I have a hard time spending any kind of money outside of basic needs. I will remember this post and not think who am I to do this, or spend this, or whatever.
I am trying to remember the same, Joanne. It’s such a balance, isn’t it? Giving where we can while acknowledging all the big and small we’ve been given, too. I’m thankful for folks like you that help me hash it out with wise perspective.
Kristen, I loved this post. And your depiction of shame. Yeah, I’ve been there, feeling small and puny, pushed around by shame. For too many years, I’ve let it dictate to me what I can and cannot do, believe, and live. And, I love, LOVE the picture of living a front seat life. God’s been working that in me lately. And I’m learning to embrace it in every area of my life.
As a PS, a few years ago, hubby and I took a trip, and the rental car company offered us an upgrade from a midsize to a red mustang. At first, I was so worried something would happen to it and it would be our fault! And then God reminded me He was our protector. Once I began clinging to that truth, I was able to really enjoy driving the little powerhouse around town. 🙂
Kristen, your post, coupled with one from yesterday, gave the shame trying to strangle me the one-two punch!! 🙂 Thanks for kicking that ugly monster’s booty, in Jesus’s precious name!
Nina Ruth 🙂
Love this, Jeanne! Here’s to front seat living together.
Hi Kristen! GREAT post. It rings so true. Thank you for reminding me of a loving heavenly Father who delights in giving us little moments of joy! 🙂
He truly does delight in them, and I want to be better at receiving them. Thankful for you here, Alice. xo
Amy M says
Oh, I had so many feelings reading this! My husband and I got an upgrade to a really nice car when we went to an out of state wedding, and I had that momentary feeling of shame. It actually took me a little while to remember not to be ashamed of this blessing and gift. I think there are situations where shame is appropriate but definitely not here.
Agreed. And thank you, Amy.
Wini Schiemann says
Thank you Kristen! All my five children are grown with their own families. As a single mom there were times God stretched our budget in ways I could not possible have imagined…but He did!
This morning I am sitting on a brand new computer chair I recently purchased. You great Email came at just the right time. I am thoroughly enjoying this luxury drinking a mug of Creme Brulee coffee reading your thoughtful article!
I love this! What a mama you were then…and are now.
May we both remember to choose gratitude rather than shame for the Creme Brulee coffee and furniture luxuries of life. Thankful for you, Wini.
Inspired Life says
Yes friend I SO get it! I’m a minivan mama of 5 and when I finally gave myself permission to go on a much needed vacation with the hubs after not having one for 12 years with just the two of us, the shame crept in. I was so excited on the plane. When we arrived at the resort, shame said, “how dare you bask in this opulence when your children are at home?” I’m so glad friend were praying me and God opened my heart to receive His blessing. The trip was a smashing success. Praising Him for freeing us from that bondage.
Beth Williams says
Great fun post! God wants to bless All His children in His own way! As James so aptly put it: “Every good and perfect gift is from God”. If He chooses to allow you to drive a sports car for a weekend enjoy! Remember this phrase: “I will not let shame shove me toward any place other than gratitude.”
Right now I’m thanking God for allowing me to resign my last position and stay at home for a while to take care of my dad–if he gets sick again!
Wonderful story! Happy Anniversary!! Blessings 🙂