Dealing with shame is so individual. The things that trigger our shame response are deeply personal, even if others have similar shames. My shame is about me. And as I said in my last post shame is thinking apart from God. To bring this point home I want to share another related shame I have had around learning.
Coming up later this month I will probably have to read publicly before a number of men. This is a huge trigger for me and today I want to reveal why. Reading has always been a weakness of mine. It has caused me huge shame, and it’s funny coming from one who is now an author. But my inability to read volumes is a weakness that I have called a curse but God said it was beautiful.
While growing up, I had an extreme difficulty with reading. I loved and collected books with a desire to read them all but just had little to no reading grace to do this. It was never a fun activity for me because I moved so slowly through each sentence. I had no problem with comprehension; I was just moving at such a snail’s pace that I would lose interest or attention before making it to the bottom of the page. It made me feel stupid, which was a shame trigger.
In school I couldn’t even finish the Cliffs Notes® much less the books required for school. This compounded the shame of being mocked by classmates for my difficulty to read aloud. My heart would literally pound in my ears as I waited for my turn to read aloud in front of the class. When my turn arrived, I’d lose my breath, feeling like I was going to pass out. I just couldn’t breathe! I felt like I readied like I was brain-damaged but what it was is I just couldn’t breathe. The whole thing was a years-long nightmare for me. I felt like I was less than everyone, all the while knowing that you can’t get anywhere in life without reading.
Reading is Fundamental
I confess, I didn’t even read my first book all the way through until I was in my early twenties. Yes, after I became a Christian, I read my first book cover-to-cover. I thought becoming a Christian had healed my problem! But, even though I was able to read my first full book, further grace for my reading many more wasn’t there. Well this only added to my shame because I thought, “How can I be a Christian and not read…?!” I met this reality with many tears.
I thought at the very least, you have to read volumes of the Bible to get by, right? I set out to conquer the recommended reading plans of the Bible in a year. I said, “I’ll do it!” Oh and a chapter of Proverbs and Psalms every day too! What came out of this was failure and self-condemnation. I cried, “Why, God? Why can’t I read?!”
All in Your Head
One day God revealed His purpose in all this. Number one, He didn’t want me to maneuver through this world via head knowledge. His plan was to make me more intuitive than scholarly. He created me to function out of my heart, not my head. The nightmare I lived for years and years was actually His keeping of me not His torment. I realized He was saving me not condemning me. WOW!
Secondly, as I said in my last post my brain functions very deliberately. I process slowly and ruminate deeply. What I have learned is one verse can have more wealth in it for me than reading a whole book of the Bible. Even though I ingest and digest slowly, this is where I meet Him. I have fellowship with the Lord as He hand-feeds me slowly. This knocked my preconceptions about why He made me like this. God desired to commune with me and intimately move with me through words. He wasn’t rushing me or force-feeding me to get down a quota. No, He was tenderly moving to woo me and entreat me with His meaning for me.
Oh Lord have mercy, I would have run ahead and lost Him in the process. Sure, I might have been able to quote multiple passage, or repeat back the meaning of the chapters, but would I have had fellowship with my Lord? Looking at our shame with His eyes may reveal something less than shameful.