Last week I had the opportunity to head back to my hometown to assist my parents in their annual wheat harvest. Every time I hit the city limits, thousands of memories flood my mind. Part of me longs to go back to the days of less responsibility and have set schedules with set people and certain teachers, but the majority of me is glad for where I am today. I feel as if so much of my life was “known” and lined out for the first 18 years. It was a process from Kindergarten though Senior year. Almost everyone did most activities, because it is a smaller town with about 3,000 people. Everyone knows everyone and then some.
I remember dragging Main. I remember my first real job working for the City where I mowed the baseball fields and the ditches. I remember the strenuous volleyball practices and the two-a-days. I remember spending time at the pool in the summers. I remember cheering for all of the football and basketball games. I remember being a teacher’s aid for one amazing woman. I remember state wrestling. I remember my 4-H days. I remember volunteering for YouthFriends. I remember walking to a local church once a week for an amazing home cooked meal. I remember the long bus rides across the southwest corner of the state to play our opponents in sports. I remember playing the flute. I remember being in the school choir and playing lead roles in our musicals. I remember playing outside with my sister practicing gymnastics, volleyball, and basketball. I remember going to our local hangout downtown after school with friends. I remember the people who poured into my life. And it makes me smile ear to ear!
Then I remember the things that turn my stomach into knots. I remember being called a “4-eyed frog” in second grade when I wore glasses for the first time. I remember being told my voice wasn’t “good enough” to have a solo in our church Christmas program. I remember that I didn’t wear the right brand of clothing or shoes. I remember spending much time alone and not being invited to birthday parties and social gatherings. I remember wanting to fit in so bad that I succumbed to peer pressure to only find out that I had created more of a reason to be bullied. I remember when I learned how to put on my mask and act as if everything was okay. I remember being told that I grew up in a last name community and unfortunately I had the “wrong last name and wouldn’t amount to much.” I remember coming home at night and crying myself to sleep, exhausted from trying to fit in. I remember the rumors that would fly around bashing my name. I felt…ashamed. Ashamed of who I truly was. Ashamed of the way I felt. Ashamed of the way I looked. Ashamed of the clothes I wore. Ashamed of every.single.thing about myself. Why did God make me so awkward? What was so wrong with me? What was the point of me being the point of so many jokes? What was the purpose of my existence?
All of these experiences set me up for more bad choices to be accepted. I had believed these lies from the enemy. These unwise decisions continued until I met my husband when I was 24. TWENTY-FOUR! I had lived most of my life living in this SHAME! I even look back at our wedding pictures and I shake my head. That girl in those pictures was so lost. The smile was so fake. I had tried to be someone else for so long that I forgot who the true Laura was. Yes, I was marrying the most amazing man in the world; however, I was so broken and confused. We don’t have one serious picture of us, because I wasn’t even okay with who I was to take good portraits, hence the reason an announcement wasn’t ever made in the local newspaper. If I was always making silly faces, then no one could truly know who I was or what I felt or looked like. We don’t even have any wedding pictures in our house except for one small 4X6 that my cousin had printed up for me when I moved across the state. Digging all of these roots out of the deep pit in my soul is time consuming, but hey, I am a work in progress and I refuse to let it reside there. I am currently reading “Unashamed” by Christine Caine. Can I just say I am on the third page and it has already changed my life?
Today I want you to know that we can find freedom from this shame, because Jesus paid it all when He died on the cross for our sins. God did not create us to be shameful. As a matter of fact it wasn’t until Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil that sin and shame entered the world. We have the power to forgive those who have treated us unfairly, who left us feeling inadequate, who poured disbelief into our lives. We can lock arms together and move forward into the life God has called us to live unashamed. We serve such an amazing God who we call our Healer and Redeemer. He is soooo good!
I need you. I need your love. I need your warm arms tightly wrapped around me. I have longed for approval for so long from the wrong sources. Lord, I ask that you help me know that your approval is all I need. Help me to learn to rest in knowing the truth. Help me to know deep down inside my soul that you truly have a purpose for me and my life. Help me to know that I matter, that my life matters, that my feelings matter, that my concerns matter. Help me to lay this shame down at your feet and surrender it all over to you, Oh God. Help me to rise up, Lord. Help me to stand strong against the enemy and the thoughts of not being enough when I know that your Word says I was created in your image with a specific purpose. Help me to put on my armor each morning. God, I want to thank you. Thank you for second chances. Thank you for being my Redeemer. Thank you for loving me when I strayed so far away. Thank you for loving me as I come back home to your arms. Thank you for carrying my heavy burdens and carrying me through the darkness. You are so incredibly good to me. Thank you for the bright future and the amazing things you have in store specifically for my life. You continue to amaze me every single day with your unending grace and mercy, Father God. Thank you will never seem like enough.
In Jesus’ name,