Earlier in the year we introduced you all to The Influence Commons. As a Network we want to give our members a chance to use their voice. We put out a call for pitches and today we are sharing the first piece written by one of our very own. We hope to share a new piece each week, so if you’re thinking about sending a pitch, don’t hesitate! Don’t forget that we plan on hosting a writer’s retreat and workshop in 2018. We’ll offer 3 scholarship positions chosen from the submissions on The Influence Commons.
With downcast eyes, she walks quickly through the crowd, carefully dodging every possible touch. She does not have to raise her eyes to see what she knows. Everyone else has it together and she does not.
Quite plainly, it is them and her. Never to be mixed or she would forever stain those around her.
Someone acknowledges her and she smiles brightly, the corners over her mouth straining over the forced smile. Can they sense me over-trying, she wonders? Her voice sounds a tad too upbeat as she responds to the, “How are you?” question with a, “Great!”. Hurrying by, she moves to a seat by itself and sinks down, taking a deep breath. Her soul is weary from the pretending. The mask she wears feels as if it is slowly peeling off, and that is the last thing she wants.
Shame. It is ever present in the eyes of the girl seeking to hide her pain. It’s in the eyes of the boy hiding amidst the shadows. At some point in time, we have all or will all feel shame. It creeps in and covers us, attempting to forever stain our souls. Freedom is gone as shame overcomes us with darkness.
We have convinced ourselves that some things are better left unsaid, covered up, and safely sealed in the boxes tucked in the corner of the garage.
As I think about shame, I realize that I do not know if we can ever stop the cycle of shame running its wheels over this world. It is an epidemic and runs far too deep.
Yet, the more I think about it, I realize there is something we can do. We can stop it in our own lives. We can choose openness, honesty, and life. We can choose to listen to the hurting, be a haven for the oppressed.
Growing up, I hid under the masks. Everyone else seemed to have it together, so sharing about brokenness in my family seemed risky. It became second nature to shove everything down and smile over the pain.
That is, until I met some people who were open about the shame. Stories of abuse, divorce, shattered dreams, and more were sprinkled over the living room of my friend’s house. Tears were shed as stories of redemption were spoken. There were no masks, only open hearts and voices.
It felt like freedom and home. Finally, I could whisper, “me too” and feel the shame start to shrivel up.
It was the discovery of freedom in Jesus that brought light to cover all the darkness. Freedom and light fill our lives when we open up to one another. Jesus is the light who illuminates the darkness. He covers all the wounds, all the shame in His palms. Nothing is too stained for Him, nothing is too shattered for His redemption. Stories of brokenness become used for His glory as we embrace the light and glory revealed within.
The more I opened up, the more I healed and grew. My hurt that caused so much shame was redeemed and now I can use my story to encourage others. Compassion has sprung up from the hurt, and has a desire to encourage others.
For the weary mamas at the grocery store, for the abused, for the college girl struggling to understand life, for the wounded, for every single person, we can put down our guards, lift our eyes and whisper, “me too.” Imagine the light that would shine into the darkness if we could put down our pride and share our sorrows. Our deepest hurts, the things we keep hidden are often the things that bind us together. They are the things that bring about healing and, eventually, freedom. Let’s choose today to live spreading the light of Jesus. Let’s choose to embrace one another, scars and all. Let’s watch as light fills the darkness.
Keri Snyder encourages moms to cultivate lives of beauty, purpose, and joy in whatever season they are in. She is a wife and mama of three, and author of Why Just Survive When You can Thrive. Most days you will find Keri in her backyard with her kids and sneaking in moments to write. Keri writes at https://kerilynnsnyder.com and loves to connect on Instagram @kerilynnsnyder