The heart, just like our storage closet, gets cluttered with things. Things we love and cherish, and things that hold no purpose.  Some are big, some are small, some are not even worth a mention, but they are still there. This clutter of things is housed up, fighting for fresh air at the first good trigger.  Triggers are all around us, smells, sounds, sights.  Some things are even sitting on a “hair trigger”, just waiting to cause problems at even a mere thought. I have incidents that continue to haunt my heart, things that I have no idea why I can even remember them.

One of my stories happened when my youngest son was about 10, I turned at a light in front of oncoming traffic.   As I turned, a normal part of driving, it flashed before me that if the oncoming traffic had of hit us, it would have hit on my son’s side of the car.  That one thought caused me to feel shame in that moment. It made me feel like I had acted foolishly.  Over the years this incident, and I remember exactly where it took place, will pop in my mind.  The other day my husband and I were driving down the road, and this old unpleasant thought popped in my head.  It simply came out of the blue and for a minute I started to dwell on it, (22 years later) but I heard the Holy Spirit say, “take it captive”.  But what does that really mean, take a thought captive?  It means gaining control of what you think about yourself.  If we take a few moments to think about those thoughts that invade our mind out of the blue; typically, shame is the culprit.

Now it may seem lame to use this example of shame; simply a thought of something that never even happened.  However, I am trying to impress upon you the invasiveness of shame on the networking systems of the brain.  My example was simply a thought of “what if”.  Here is another truth, shame can imbed itself into us by other people attempting to tell our story, especially at a very young age where we cannot appropriately communicate for ourselves.  Honestly, even before we are born.  I’m not even talking about negative things here; I’m talking about seemingly good things that our parents or maybe even mentors say about us or push us into doing.   We have all heard at least one athlete talk about their parent that pushed them into that sport, pushed them to be the best, and they hate what they are doing.

Please understand,  I am not parent bashing or shaming, I am a parent.  I’m just driving home a point.  Emotions come and go; shame takes up residency in your brain.  Shame pushes you out of your easy chair, the one you bought and paid for, and makes the chair its own.  Shame is a blinding light that causes you to look away every time someone tries to make eye contact with you. Shame is not just about what you think, it becomes who you are.  It settles in for the long-haul.

You see, shame changes how we see ourselves.  If we have negative thoughts about ourselves; how can other people have positive thoughts about us? If we don’t love ourselves, how can anyone else love us, specifically God.  If we feel like we are never good enough, how can we believe others will see us as good enough?  How do we gain control of what we think of ourselves?  For me it was when I heard these words from God, after years of gnashing of teeth; “Daughter, I forgave you the first time you asked, the problem is you have not forgiven yourself.  I felt in that moment that God gave permission to finally forgive myself.  I guess in some way for me to move on, I just felt like I needed permission.  As if him dying on the cross was not enough.

This really flipped a switch for me, God knew what I personally needed.  I had spent a lot of time pouring out my heart to God about my darkest secrets.  Places where I did something that facilitated the shame I felt.  Not just a “what if” thought.  Of course, he already knew everything, but me being willing to speak it out opened doors to allow for change.  We must pour out our heart, keeping stuff in it builds a cold, stone prison.    Over time it became so clear that my relationship with God had to be 100% all in.  You either trust and believe 100% what the Bible says, or you don’t.  There is no 80/20 or even 95/5 percentage of how we trust God.  As a believer I cannot say I believe God died on the cross to save me from my sin, or shame, or health problems, and live my life thinking it doesn’t apply to me, or my family.  That’s doubled-minded thinking which is addressed in the Bible.  James 1:5 says, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you.  He will not rebuke you for asking.  But when you ask, be sure that your faith is in God alone.  Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind”.  I lived years being tossed around by the wind.

Whenever I start to feel out of sorts by looking at the world around me, and all the bad things that happen, I must do as God said, take it captive.   I must remember, I was born into a world of sin, and that I have free will.  Because of this we have to deal with the world and the consequences of our decisions. The Bible makes it clear,  I will have trials and tribulation.   However, we have these truths to stand upon.   God has overcome this world.  I am fearfully and wonderfully made.   I am the head and not the tail.  He is with me coming in and going out. I am a chosen daughter of God. I am enough, and He is preparing a place at the table for me.  This is how I stay in control of how I think about myself.  I do not worry that other people see this in me or believe it about me.  I worry about whether they believe it about themselves.  We may be surrounded by people in our lives that think only the best about us.  However, if we do not think the best about us, other peoples opinions count as nothing.  I must walk in God’s truth about me to survive this world; so do you.

Pouring out your heart to God, taking bad thoughts captive, and repeating to yourself who you are in God, allows you to control your thoughts and your emotions.  Do not let anyone tell you that you are not worthy, not good enough or lacking in some area.   You are good enough, and only God has the last word in your life.

Donna Shubert

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