I hate saying no. It makes me literally sick to my stomach. I'm an extreme people pleaser by nature, and I hate disappointing anyone, maybe partly out of fear that I'll lose their love or affection. That has been magnified during this season of struggling more intensely with my mental health. Sometimes I have to make the choice that is best for me, (and even for my family, because they have to deal with me), and that choice is to say no to something we would all enjoy normally, and really, everyone else would enjoy now, but because of the anxiety/stress it would cause me before, during, and after, it's just not something I can handle. I hate it, and it feels like I can't win, because I have to choose to what I need to right now and risk displeasing someone (or multiple someones) I care about, or keeping them happy but risk a setback to my wellness. Now, sometimes the cost: benefit comes out in favor of saying yes, and that's great! But the times it doesn't…I have so much shame.
I think God is working to strip me of shame, though, particularly when it comes to my mental health. I've had two people I've had to say no or cancel plans with in the past few days, and it's been brutal. I had to, in both cases, do something Scott has been trying to help me to do since we met. "Weigh your options, make your choice, and own it. Don't look back and beat yourself up. You can only do what you can." Both times, the people involved have been understanding and supportive and a huge weight has been lifted.
Another example of an opportunity to overcome shame came yesterday when a good friend who I haven't talked to in awhile asked me why she hadn't seen me at church since she moved back. She missed me! Down came the curtain of shame. But then I took a deep breath and explained what's going on with me, what I'm doing about it, and that I'm hopeful, and she was very supportive.
I struggle a lot with shame about having this wonderful amazing life but not being as free as I would like to live it-right now. That was addressed in my devotional time this morning from two different angles. My daily adoration (from Sara Hagerty) was Genesis 16:13 about the God who Sees, and it reminded me that God sees me where I am, He knows my heart, and He not only sees me, but He will show me Himself too. Then I did my I AM devotional (see "my favorite things" in the site menu) and today it was "I am…KNOWN." Jaw drop. The author wrote about how, when coming out of a harrowing season she found herself deeply sad, mourning some things, and she felt ashamed and misunderstood many times when others thought she should be celebrating and full of joy for what she'd come through. She shared how she came to realize that she was deeply known and understood by God and that she could mourn with Jesus at the foot of the cross even as she celebrated His resurrection. Wow. There is no shame in the seasons we find ourselves in, and we are fully known and fully loved by an infinite God. I'm praying for this knowledge to saturate my heart and bring me yet another facet of freedom.
There have been moments lately where I've felt shame that, as much as I'm reclaiming joy and life day by day, and experiencing amazing things, I am moving at a snails pace. But this journey isn't on my timeline or Scott's or E's or anyone else's. God is leading me gently by the hand and I know it's going to be so beautiful. It already is! And as if to cement that, i encountered this in my planner last night:
And I'm definitely not standing still. So that, I celebrate, and that, I will enjoy.