Shame woke me up at three in the morning. My eyes flew open, and I felt as though I hadn’t yet slept. Suddenly I was wide awake and acutely aware of the shame wrapped like a blanket around me.
It was late, and I felt like the smallest human on earth. I made my way into the fetal position, my white bedspread crumpled beside me, a tangible example of how crumpled I felt within.
“I don’t understand,” I whispered to Jesus. “I have dealt with my insecurities. I have come to terms that I am enough as I am. Why do I feel so small? So worthless?”
My shame thrives at three in the morning, when the wind bangs my blinds against the wall, when the darkness is at its peak. Like a boa constrictor, she snakes around me, squeezing. Soon, I am poured out and exhausted.
Shame tells me I am not enough. Shame tells me my words will not be read. Shame tells me my work, my hands, my life will not produce anything meaningful. But Shame is a good, smooth liar. At three in the morning, it’s easy to believe her.
I closed my eyes and took a deep, clear breath, all the while silently begging Jesus to unravel me from the tangled mess I had found myself in. I asked myself the following: what is my feeling, and what is my truth? There’s a difference, I know, between feelings and truth. My feelings don’t dictate what is true. It’s just harder to remember that when I’m in the midst of feeling things strongly.
My feeling: I am not enough.
My truth: I am. I am. I am.
My feeling: My words will not be read. Instead they will stay where they are, sitting in the bottom drawer of my white bookshelf. I will be on the tireless pursuit of attempting to put my words out into the world for the rest of my life.
My truth: My words are already being read.
My feeling: What I produce is not meaningful.
My truth: My life is meaningful and sacred and significant, and because my work stems from my life, my work is important too (even when it feels like saving the world is the only adequate measure of importance).
Shame does not decide who I am or who you are, although that’s trickier to declare when our hearts are weary and Shame has a good, strong grasp on us.
Shame woke me up at three in the morning, and then my alarm woke me up at seven. I looked at my room, now bathed in light instead of the darkness which had accompanied me earlier. I gathered my truths instead of my feelings and held them close against me for the rest of the day.
And I said, “Jesus, teach me what is true, teach me what is true, teach me what is true.” Because even when I don’t feel enough, I’ll hold on like a mad woman to the truth that I am.