I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I’m in the same place,
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
(Read the rest of this poem here.) For this week we begin and stop here.
Here you are again on the same street with the same hole and the same warning signs. If you really try, you can remember what it was like the last time you fell into the hole but for some reason you convince yourself it wasn’t that bad. You also convince yourself that this time there’s nothing to worry about. This is the street you are going to walk down and no hole in the ground is going to stop you. You can handle it. You can avoid the hole.
(Oh the lies we tell ourselves.)
So you walk. With each step you get a bit more anxious. Doubt creeps in but you keep walking because you’ve made your choice and this is the only street in your mind worth walking on. You haven’t seen the hole yet, or that’s what you’ve told yourself anyway. You can’t shake the feeling that this isn’t going to end well but you continue on. What you haven’t faced yet is the fact that somehow and for some reason all of this uncertainty feels “normal” to you. It’s what you deserve. It’s all you deserve.
(Oh the lies we tell ourselves.)
The inevitable happens. You fall in again. At first you’re completely okay with this. It’s what always happens, because people like you just live this way. It’s your destiny. Some people are meant to fall into holes and some aren’t. You can survive the hole and it doesn’t affect your above ground life. Your job, your relationships and your home life are all fine, right? And God understands. After all He created you and if you keep falling into holes it must be because He wants it this way for some reason. And even if it’s not what He wants, He will certainly understand because you do so many other things right. It’s just this one street and this one hole that gets in the way. It’s not your fault.
This is how you cope.
And just like the last time you fell into the hole, the feeling that this is okay wears off quickly. You feel shame because once again you let yourself and others down. Once again you broke the promise you made to yourself that last time was the last time. You look up and realize that getting out of this hole is not going to be any easier than last time. This hole is as deep as it was last time.
You feel even more shame as you realize you’ve made no progress. The longer you’re in the hole the darker it gets and the farther away the rest of the world appears. This isn’t normal. This is far from the best path for your life. You know it but you wallow in it anyway. “Why does this always happen to me? What did I do to deserve this lot in life? I’m so far gone it’s not even worth trying to avoid these holes. It’s who I am.”
The voice of shame is loud. And it is a story stealer. It is keeping you in that hole. And leading you back to that hole.
Shame is a liar. Shame changes truth into lies. Shame is exhausting because there are so many lies told. It is exhausting keeping up with the lies. The lies are thick with shame. Shame thrives in secret keeping.
Shame causes us to talk to ourselves in ways we would never talk to those we love and respect. Think about those thoughts you have when you found yourself in the hole again. You would never give anyone you love that advice! Never! But for your personal reasons, you are giving shame a voice. And shame loves to be that voice in your head repeating again and again that you are never enough.
Enough! As in you are enough. Also as in enough of this same pattern in your life.
The first step is to stop telling yourself these same lies. Those lies are already exhausting you. Recognize the hole for the destruction that it is. And for the pain it causes your loved ones.
Try praying Psalm 139:23-24 as a daily prayer over and over again.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
To do this it is going to require you to find some quiet in your life. For a few minutes. For ten minutes. During one of your drives. Maybe several times a day. That would actually be ideal. And you do have several drives a day. Remember that change comes from one brave decision to another brave decision to another brave decision. This is one of those brave decisions.
In these quiet moments, what is God revealing to you about you? Write this stuff down. It is hard to lie to yourself again if the truth is written down and you can read it over and over again.
Also share this stuff with a trusted person. This trusted person will affirm these truths about you. This trusted person wants you out of the hole so badly that you can count on him/her. Shame isolates you. Just by bringing a trusted person into your inside mind will help you with this battle with shame.
Also be open to find counseling. Or a support group. Because you need this does not mean that you are not enough. It means that you see your worthiness so you are taking bigger steps to live in that worthiness.
Because you are worthy to be walking down a different street. This is what those who love you want for you. And you are worthy to do it. You do belong there.
Is some clarity coming into your thinking? You know you can get out of this hole and you do–again. And then more truth hits you. The last time you fell into the hole you were there much longer. By getting out of the hole this time, you have actually made progress in your life. By shutting down the loud voice of shame, you have really made progress in your life.
Be brave. You can do this. You have already made some progress. It’s brave decision upon brave decision upon brave decision. And you’ve already made some of those brave decisions. Well done!
May this song get stuck in your head.
(Photo credit: https://pastorgreene.wordpress.com/2015/12/30/autobiography-in-five-short-chapters/)