You will never be enough. The voice whispers over me. You don’t belong. It calls out as I go to sleep in the all-encompassing darkness. You are just an impostor. It greets me as I open my curtains to the beckoning morning light.
Then there is this sticky feeling, like molasses poured over my head. It drips down over me until I’m covered from head to toe. I’m blanketed in it. Blinded by it. It discolours everything that I look at. It destroys everything I touch. So I withdraw. Better that I wallow in the sticky fog than drag anyone down with me.
The thick, blinding fog that mars every thought, misinterprets every encounter and paralyzes my fragile heart.
Its’ barbed tongue pierces my delicate flesh.
You are too young, nobody will take you seriously. You aren’t pretty enough, you aren’t clever enough, you aren’t fun enough…nobody will want you. You are too emotional, it’s exhausting for everybody around you.
I find myself crawling on my hands and knees to church every Sunday. Weighed down by these lies that shame hums over me seven days a week.
The first song starts and I stand motionless, gripping my hands together. I can’t look anyone in the eye. I can’t even look myself in the mirror. I can’t face a God who is so without fault.
So I stand as my fellow church-goers and friends sing a rising song. Shouting their adoration, clapping the rhythm of their joy.
I’m bitter. I’m empty, hollow like a crystal vase. You can see right through my pitiful display. I’m not fooling anyone.
They can see my failure. They know my shame.
The guitar keeps twanging. The drums keep beating. The worship leaders keep singing. I remain glued to the spot.
I close my eyes. I bow my head. I slowly whisper the words, not the ones they are singing but the ones in my heart. The ones I’ve been hiding all week. The ones I’m afraid to say. Am I loved? Do you see me? Am I enough?
My heart is drumming as I await an answer. I expect a booming thunder. A roaring wind. A blaze of light. And instead the room begins to glow. Gold light shimmers down from above. I’m swept in a glow. The antidote to the dark, sticky molasses.
Gently the gold glitter rains down on me. Settles on my hands which are now outstretched, on my eyelids, lips and shoulders. Seeps into my skin and filters right down to my core.
A thousand failures disappear. All my shortcomings are erased. I slip on this new robe of grace and it is well with my soul.
How can it be?
How can the one without fault find me under my blanket of shame? How can He lift my chin from the ground, meet my eye and love me all the same?
I was wrong about Him. I thought he would be mad at me for all the ways I’ve let him down. I thought he would be disappointed in the little I have amounted to. I thought he would agree with that voice I hear day and night…I thought he WAS that voice.
I was wrong.
Where there is light, there is no darkness. Where there is truth, there is no deception. Where there is love, there is no shame.
He doesn’t care if I can’t sing the words the others are. He doesn’t notice that I haven’t washed my hair in three days or that my socks don’t match or that I sang that note out of key. He’s just glad I’m here. He’s absolutely delighted that I came to him.
I hear whispers from neighbours. I see glances from people on the street. I know that there are people in this world who want to take advantage of me. There are people who only want me for my body, my success, my superficial attributes.
And their approval feels good. It lifts me up and for a few seconds I’m flying. But it’s a temporary buzz. Over almost as quickly as it began. And I’m sinking again. Because all they saw was my pretty face and funny story.
I’m thirsty for attention. I’m parched. Absolutely desperate for love.
Their attention and affection fills me up but like drinking salt water it only leads me further into dehydration.
I need more.
I need love that’s unconditional, unfailing, unending.
So I keep crawling back to church every Sunday. Not because I was raised that way. Not out of habit or to impress anyone. Not because I need the affection of the other desperate souls I find there.
But because I’ve found a well there. A well that springs up a different kind of water. A living water that finally quenches my thirst. In this place my need for love and approval is met. I find my worth and I am unquestionably different because of it.
I’m anointed with oil and the shame won’t stick. It drips down and slides right off me.
I am healed. I am whole. I am home.
“When you get to a place where you understand that love and belonging, your worthiness is a birthright and not something you have to earn, anything is possible.” – Brene Brown