Sunday, March 31, 2019

God as my Hiding Place (Psalm 32 Theopoetic Reflection)

I used to think I was the only one that experienced shame, as shame has a way of creating isolation. For years I put on a mask of perfectionism and hoped that people wouldn't see my significant insecurity. Then I suffered a life-changing brain injury on March 6, 2011, and everything changed. I could no longer hide behind my well crafted facade. My life changed in an instant.

Just how much my life changed is a topic for another day. That said, I was gifted with relief of my shame in the wake of the injury. It was a kind of grace beyond comprehension. For the first time in my life I no longer felt the need to hide my truth.

Over time, through years of healing work and now seminary study, I've come to realize that shame is common among us: It's part of the condition of being human. As I allow myself to be vulnerable with others, I break down the lies that shame tells me and I am strengthened in my authentic self.

But as I write this, I feel compelled to note that human beings won't always do a good job of understanding or engaging with my vulnerability. Sometimes they may even perpetuate my shame by saying something hurtful. My courage comes from a deeper source, one that loves me exactly as I am. I've come to realize that my safest space---the hiding place mentioned in the psalm---lies with God. Snuggled up against the down feathers of the Creator, I bring all of me without pretense... and I am loved. It is this love that I yearn for in my life now as an artist, seminary student, and emerging theologian, because I am free when I turn toward God and allow myself to be fully embraced.

St. Augustine said, "Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee, oh God." In Al Anon I learned that "you're only as sick as your secrets." Leaving nothing hidden, nestled into the comfort of love itself, my soul releases perfectionism, and I simply ask God to show me the way.

Heather Thompson

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