I've noticed a pattern. As a guy in the 2nd half of life, I realize that I'm good at certain things and not so good at others. And, in the masculine world I live in, some of the things I'm not so good at fall clearly in the column labeled "Things Men Are Supposed to Do". It's true of almost every man. Even if your earthly father was a good man, you can bet there are some things you needed - as a Man - that he simply wasn't equipped to give you. And you got short-changed. Perhaps that explains why, in some environments, you feel like a young boy; unfathered; ill-equipped; shameful.
Phil 2:14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God, without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky
Six ideas to keep in perspective while dealing with the stress and trials of the Christmas season
1) Look for the positives: Often the holidays force us to deal with family. Inevitably, family in close quarters can present some "challenges". Remember to focus on whatever positives you can find throughout the season. LOOK for them. Don't passively wait for it to be gift wrapped and handed to you.... (Phil 4:8)
2) Appreciate the little things: Oftentimes the holidays lead to comparison and competition. We want to make this Christmas "the BEST Christmas EVER!" This sounds good in theory but can be a constant source of stress and depression as one thing or another doesn't turn out as magnificent as it played out in our mind's eye. Nothing wrong with the grandiose, but I want to live in acceptance not bloated expectation.
3) Be Quick to apologize: Let's face it, it takes two to tango, not every argument is someone else's fault. We play our part too. Take responsibility for your actions. Seek forgiveness early and often. Nothing like a contrite spirit to break down walls.
4) Remember we are a team: (This is more for the married folks...) Two have become one flesh. As you deal with in-laws and her side of the family vs. his side of the family, remember that what God has brought together, no one can separate. So we should act like it. Take your spouse's side first and ask for clarity later. Decide as a unit how you both see the holidays playing out. Come to a consensus and then create the boundaries and environment to do that to the best of your abilities.
5) Keep the Focus: Jesus is the reason for the season... Yes, it sounds cliche, but it is also deeply TRUE. Keep this at the center of the Christmas season. Kids should enjoy their gifts (not going there on the Santa debate, do or don't...your call) but you should read them the Advent Story... You read it to them; sing it together; have Them read it; sacrifice and attend the church services offered. My wife and I have had a really fun time coming up with traditions our family does that remind us how God loved us 2000 years ago.
6) Look for redemption in disappointments: It IS there, usually in hindsight, but this is how we grow. So let's look for positives to keep our mind engaged. When the stuff happens (and it will), keep James 1:2-4 in mind. Hold on to that Joy...
....Behold, I bring you good tidings of GREAT JOY which shall be to all the people: for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ, the Lord....
Aush Chatman is a friend, former Naval officer, CrossFit Instructor and member of our 4Streams Partners / West Coast outpost in San Diego, CA
Popular, secular therapy proclaims the evils of shame. It’s wrong. Sure, shame is misused and abused, but deep-shame—deep shame alone—offers our only hope of grace-based healing. As J. I. Packer once suggested, “Seek the grace to be ashamed.” (This is a response to the anti-shame rant in the world around us.)
Scripture tells two stories of boatload catches of fish, the first at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry (Luke 5:4-8) and the second at the end (John 21:2-7). In both stories:
- Professional fishermen fish all night.
- Their night of fishing is fruitless; not a single fish is caught.
- The following morning, an amateur offers unsolicited and unusual directions.
- The fishermen obey and catch so many fish that their boats begin to sink.
Despite their similarities, there is one, huge difference. After the first miracle, Peter exclaims to Jesus, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.” After the second, Peter casts himself into the sea and breaks an Olympic-record-freestyle to get close to Jesus.
What changed in Peter that drove him to Jesus? He had finally experienced deep shame.
The modern world hates shame
Shame is a feeling that attacks the core of our spirit. Guilt is the thought “I DID something bad.” Shame is the belief “I AM something bad.” Guilt attacks our actions; shame attacks our being:
- Shame is the intensely painful feeling . . . of believing we are [deeply] flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance. (Brene Brown)
- Shame . . . is that sense of unease with yourself at the heart of your being (David Atkinson).
Shallow-shame nurtures an intense concentration on ourselves. We feel our flawed nature and we frantically try to fix it. Tim Keller asks,
What is the opposite of Righteousness? Evil? No, the opposite of righteousness is shame, and we do everything in our power to try to cover it.
We frantically cover ourselves with desperate attempts at perfection. We “hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving” (Brene Brown).
Shallow-shame breeds self-focus; but self-obsession is the root-cause of every problem in the world. Oppression, betrayal, and greed are all birthed by self-centeredness.
So what are we to do with shame?
Modern therapists suggest we dump shame and embrace worthiness. Secular Brene Brown writes, “The greatest challenge for most of us is believing that we are worthy now, right this minute. As is.” (Without the cross, it’s the opposite of grace.) *
Brown’s therapy teaches non-biblical, gospel substitution, self-hypnosis. It’s The Little Engine That Could, huffing and puffing, “I think I’m worthy, I think I’m worthy.” Scripture disagrees with Brown. Jeremiah says his generation’s problem was lack of shame:
Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were neither ashamed nor even knew how to blush. Therefore they shall fall (Jer. 6:15).
Mark Twain agreed with Scripture (amazingly) when he said,
Man is the only animal that blushes. And the only animal that needs to.
God’s answer to shame is deep-shame
The first time Jesus creates the miracle of the great catch of fish, Peter rightly senses his own unworthiness and asks, “Depart from me because I am a sinful man.” He is saying, “Leave me alone until I claim my own self-worth.” (Brown would be proud.)
Right before the final miraculous catch, Peter finally experiences deep-shame. He had just denied Jesus three times. He is not the brave man he self-proclaimed. He’s a coward. And that deep-shame finally drove him to God’s grace.
This is all that’s required for deep communion with God: to come empty, to admit we are unworthy. Everything else is smoke and mirror therapy.
A life without regret
Shallow-shame leads to self-claimed worth. Just before his denials, Peter exclaimed, “Those other disciples may deny you but I never will.” Then his self-proclaimed worthiness failed. When the cock crows three times, he finally experiences deep shame.
Paul explains the differing results between deep-shame repentance and shallow-shame self-proclamation:
Godly-grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly-grief produces death (2 Cor. 7:10).
Godly-grief (at deep-shame) leads to deep repentance and a life without regret.
Shame isn’t the problem, it’s what we do with the shame. We can be angry and sin not; we can also be ashamed and despair not. In fact, we can finally find life.
Every human wants an enduring love and worth. Therefore we need something stronger than self-hypnosis. We need grace. Grace says God loves us just because he loves us. His love doesn’t depend on what we do or what we claim.
That’s why Paul can write, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus” (not through our self-worth proclamation). Deep-shame can drive us to grace. Let’s seek the grace to be ashamed and yield to grace; no striving, no hypnosis. He loves us because he loves us. That can never be removed.
We come to God in little empty boats till we overflow with more than we can imagine.
* I like Brene Brown, especially her call to vulnerability and her battle against using shame to bully others. But her secular answers are substitutes for the gospel; they don’t require the death of the beloved Son of God.
Our solution is not: “believing we are worthy at this moment.” Our solution is to receive worth from the Son on the cross.
Note from Buz: Sam Williamson is a friend and guest blogger for the week. I asked Sam for permission to re-post this piece on the 4Streams Partners web site because it is a viewpoint that is both true and completely in sync with the piece of our Vision that seeks to 'restore that essence of the Gospel that has been lost' in all of the nonsense of our current Christian culture. You can read more of Sam's work at http://beliefsoftheheart.com. Thank you, Sam!