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Pastor's Letter for September 2021
September 2, 2021, 10:25 AM

Are you a “self made” person? Do you know what it means to pull yourself up by your own boot straps? Are you a self starter, self motivated? Do you demonstrate a “can do” attitude? If these phrases describe you then you likely have reason to be proud and confident in your own abilities because you can effectively solve problems in life that have do their best to overwhelm you and make you a failure. People value you for your abilities and success and expect you to be strong and you are. They look to you for leadership and strength and they cheer you on. Because of hard work, talent and dedication you and others can legitimately claim you are a success.

On the other hand you may be someone who tried to be self made, tried to overcome the challenges and problems of life like other people, but instead of succeeding you failed to solve problems this way. People told you that this was expected but after you tried and failed they stopped expecting you to succeed and instead expected you to fail. Instead of cheers of encouragement, you became steeped in jeers of disappointment. After awhile you no longer needed to have others judge you negatively, you took on the task in your own heart. You now judge yourself much more negatively than others judge you and you do it first.

The person that is short of being self made is weighed down by “toxic shame”. On author says these things about toxic shame:

Toxic shame is “a core belief in one's defectiveness.”

Toxic shame tells us "we're going to fail to reach our goals in life".

Toxic shame threatens those affected with abandonment.

Toxic shame “is mostly driven and passed on from one generation to the next .”

Toxic shame “creates emotional paralysis and isolation.”

Toxic shame "interrupts spiritual, personal, and professional development. “

Toxic shame “begins in childhood. It causes a sense of emotional starvation and neediness which demands to be fed. It inappropriately and greedily, gorges on stolen attention.”

shame can affect both successful and unsuccessful people. Both the successful and unsuccessful person are threatened by the negative narrative of toxic shame. Successful people can battle against the voices of toxic shame by striving and hard work for a time. They can medicate their pain with hard work and the adrenaline that comes from striving. This works as long as they have the ability to work. In the end however even all their effort will fall short. Unsuccessful person discovers early that striving and hard work are not effective. They learn deaden their pain in other ways that require little or no work, like drugs or alcohol or pornography. shame steals life from everyone affected by it and will win in the end if a solution is not found.

The pathway to healing a victim of toxic shame involves changing the internal narrative of toxic shame. Their frame of reference, their internal story of toxic shame must change. A parent, a coach, a teacher who tells and lives by deep and genuine love can replaces the toxic shame narrative with a story of encouragement and hope. Instead of abandoning a child or older person when the going gets tough, they stay and support the one who struggles and works with them to find solutions to the problems of life.

Christians, we have been saved by the Lord from toxic shame. The Lord meets people in their darkness and fear. He does not abandon the sinner to their fate, instead he covers us with His blood. He gives us a new Spirit that encourages us even “in the valley of the shadow of death”. When we receive his encouragement the narrative and the threats of toxic shame are replaced with a new story of God’s love and the true promise of new and eternal life with Him.

Those who receive the narrative of God’s love and faithfulness that are expressed in the gospel become agents of encouragement They are able to minister to victims of toxic shame. By the grace of God they help the narrative of toxic shame to be replaced by the new narrative of the gospel. This is the calling of every disciple of Christ because this is the very work that He did and He continues to do by the power of the Spirit that is in the body of Christ.

To God Be the Glory!!

Jon

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