I texted my friend this morning kind of a weird request. I asked her to do a favor for me that I knew was a little bit controlling, a little bit weird. I wanted her to just say, "Sure, Sarah, no problem. I'll do whatever you're asking." But she actually kind of hesitated about my request...and said, "Actually, I'm going to have to talk to you about this a little bit later."
And the anxiety started rising up in me.
'What does she think about me?'
'She's going to think that I'm doing something wrong.'
I started imagining what her hesitation was...and if I was wrong or right in my request. Analyzing if I could defend myself...or if I just should feel down on myself, that I'm bad, a bad person, that I did something bad.
After awhile of mulling all this over ('Am I good? Am I bad?') I tuned in to the anxiety churning around inside of me, and I turned on some music that would help turn my 'spiritual' eyes back up to God. I started remembering some of the things that I know are now true about me because of the Good News of what Jesus did for me by dying on the cross and rising again:
I don't have to be right anymore.
I don't have to justify myself by being right all the time, by never making a mistake, by being more together than other people, or always having the right answer.
I don't have to prove that I'm good enough; I don't have to have to impress anyone or gain anyone approval.
God is gracious. He made a way for me to be me: broken, a mess, often controlling and confused. And His way is that He sent Jesus to pay the price for my sin and He has given me Jesus' righteousness...so He can now be gracious to me. He is happy with me right where I am, and where He's taking me, who He's forming me into.
As I contemplated what the Gospel frees me up to not have to do anymore (be right all the time) and what it lets me be (just be enjoyed and loved and cherished by God as the mess that I am), I started realizing I think that when I'm corrected, it's a shameful thing. When I'm not right, it means I'm bad. I'm shamed. I should hide that part of me.
That's one of the biggest things that bothers me, that scares me, that angers me, that even enrages me, about how our culture deals with children.
WE SHAME THEM AS WE CORRECT THEM.
And, as a result, we teach them that making a mistake is shameful. Being in process is bad. Not being perfect is to be hidden. And we are a culture that collectively wishes we could eradicate our imperfections. You can see it everywhere, from our hatred of any fat on our bodies, to self-mutilation, to rampant perfectionism and hiding who we really are.
That's what I learned growing up. When I did something wrong, it was a shameful experience. I see it when my children are around other adults. It doesn't have to be a volatile or aggressive situation. My daughter was riding a little toy car the other day and she, on mistake, ran over a little toddler's toe with the car and several adults, without even thinking, even in tiny comments to her, spoke shame over her. It happens every single day, in every day interactions.
But the Father, GOD, isn't like that. He doesn't interact with us like that. He doesn't shame us for our messiness, for our sin. He is gracious. His discipline, His correction, is kind, is compassionate, is gentle, is good. His parenting is completely different than our culture's. His embrace is shame-free. We never have to prove we are good enough, or hide that we aren't. We can just be who we fully are, and know that we will be embraced and delighted in.
That's the true Father's love...and that is what will give me rest as I wait to hear what made my friend hesitate about my request.