I find myself staring down the barrel of a loaded gun.
I’ve spent my whole adult life distracting myself from the grief I feel over a part of me that I have never allowed myself to fully name or know. Whenever I began to put words around this desire — to name this bit of me that has been repressed and hidden for years — I would break down in heaving sobs and uncontrollable sadness. Yet, instead of allowing myself to continue to do the work of naming this yearning and bear these overwhelming emotions, I would instead pick myself up from the ground, suppress my sadness, and find something to distract myself with: unhealthy relationships, dominating the workforce, becoming a spiritual leader, and so on… Yet, no distraction could deter me from eventually putting words around my desires and facing my demons.
The loaded gun? Naming this desire comes with a super-sized helping of shame.
The embarrassment I feel around this particular desire comes from a place deep within my relational past. Whenever I began to voice this part of me, I was faced with family members who downplayed my desires, encouraging me with Christianese, cliche statements — “Don’t worry, Kelsey! You worry too much!” or “Trust in God,” which sounds affirming, yet doesn’t provide much stock for the one who finds it difficult to trust at all. I was also faced with the unhealthy men I chose to be in relationship with, who cast away my desires in order to avoid their own soul work — “Don’t say that. You’re coming off desperate.” or “Nobody wants a woman like that.” Clearly, shame and embarrassment go hand-in-hand with naming the desires of my heart.
Being at The Seattle School has forced me to not only stare down the barrel of this loaded gun — naming my desire — but pull the trigger and relinquish myself from the shame I feel.
As I come to realize the weight I’ve been carrying all these years and the burden I bore, I also face a time of mourning. Relinquishing the reins of shame comes with an immense load of grief over the realization that what my heart yearns for may never come to be.
I hope that the desires of my heart come to fruition someday.
I grieve because it has yet to happen.
As I learn to allow myself to name desire and welcome the yearning in my heart, the shame and embarrassment I feel dissipates, day by day. As I learn to allow myself to feel sadness, anxiety, grief, and intense pain in the mourning, my hope grows.
Hope is risky.
Shame is ungodly.
Grief is imperative.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless. – Psalm 84:11 (NIV)