Are We There Yet?

It’s THAT week: the one leading up to the exciting day I’ve been looking forward to for months. Oh yeah, my book’s official launch is this week. Amazon will start filling orders on Thursday. But, more importantly, on Saturday, I will fly away for a week of snuggling with my west coast granddaughters! Life is about perspective.

While I have put a lot of work into the book and it is good to see it completed, it doesn’t compare to seeing my grandchildren, holding them, hearing them laugh. <Sigh> It’s going to be a long week. I’m going to be that kid in the backseat, asking “Are we there yet?” every few minutes. So, I will try to focus on other things going on this week, like, my book.

Some of you have not just already ordered and received your copy from my website, but you have even read it. Your feedback has been great and very much appreciated! As we near the official launch date, here is another excerpt. This one is on shame:

Childhood sexual abuse shapes people in ways they wish it wouldn’t and may not even realize. One of the most common effects is the feeling of shame. I make the distinction between guilt and shame this way: Guilt results because of what you do, while shame results from believing what you do is who you are or who you think you are. Because we sin, we are all declared guilty. It’s a judgment against us. Shame takes that judgment and translates it from “you did a bad thing” to “you are a bad person.”

Abused children are often taught that the abuse is their fault or that they caused it in some way. The abuser tells the victim that they couldn’t stop themselves because of something the victim did, or that the victim deserved it. The victim then assumes that if they caused it to happen, then they must be evil themselves. Simple reasoning.

While our sin can be forgiven and our guilt taken away by the work of the cross, shame can remain. We don’t see ourselves as God see us—pure, holy, and white as snow. We still see ourselves as dirty, bad, somehow complicit in the abuse, and unworthy of such great grace. Our shame keeps us from experiencing the freedom and abundant life that Jesus died for.

We can also fall into the trap of believing we are our past or we are what happened to us, and so we live in a state of shame. While our past will shape us in some ways, it does not determine who we are. God has made us with a purpose in mind. Yes, the devastating things that enter our lives will influence us, and they are meant to, but they do not define us. If we allow God to work in us, he will take those negative experiences and weave them into the tapestry of our lives. They usually end up being the darker, contrasting threads that give the finished tapestry its unique beauty.

Some of us look at that tapestry and instead of seeing that the dark threads make it unique and beautiful, we believe that they ruin the tapestry, destroying its worth. We see what could have been a beautiful piece of art, but to us it is full of holes and mistakes that make it just plain ugly, certainly not something of worth. But that’s not how God sees us. Maybe some of the colors in our life’s tapestry are not what we would have picked, but what gives it worth—what makes it valuable—is who made it. I can only think of one Picasso that I think is a beautiful piece of art. But I recognize that his other paintings are valuable because they are Picassos, not because of my feelings for them.

The creator of our lives had a special design in mind for us. And because it is his design, it is perfect, beautiful, and valuable. It is said that something is worth what someone will pay for it. Jesus gave his life for us, making our worth immeasurable.

That’s the introduction of the section on shame. The next part gets into more specific aspects of shame and sexual abuse. It is one of the most common feelings an abuse victim deals with. As the book’s launch date draws near, I am praying that God would use it and get it into the hands of those it can help.

Half a day gone – Are we there yet?

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