Let me start by saying that I like old people. That is a good thing because I hope to be one of them very soon. My beloved grandmother Frances lived with us for a good portion of my childhood, and I consider her one of the most influential people in my life. I treasure the warmth and wisdom of friendships with women old enough to be my mother. I tell you this because I want to tell you a story, and I do not want the focus to be on the wrong narrative.
I am a gardener and I could easily live out my days in the great outdoors tending to nature's landscape. A couple of years ago I was at my local hardware store ( I love a good hardware store) looking for a fern for my front porch. (I am Southern after all.) I was lucky enough to spot the fullest, greenest fern on the rack. It was perfect and we shared a moment. While I was making an awkward attempt at freeing my fern, I was approached by a clearly upset elderly woman. She quickly let me know that she wanted my prized fern. Fine by me, I thought. I do not mind picking out a new one. When I reached out to hand her the fern she yelled at me "You should be ashamed of yourself!" Right there in front of God and everybody at Ace Hardware, she loudly voiced her disapproval of me.
Wait, what just happened?
Please keep in mind that I have said nothing to her at this point and I was happily turning over the fern. I was stunned, hurt, and embarrassed by a total stranger on the sidewalk. My mind was racing and frantically searching for an appropriate response to this situation. My first instinct was to give it to her and take off. But why?
I know that there will be some that feel I should have just given the angry woman the fern and been done with it, but I just couldn't. Standing there flushed and angry, I knew that I would not allow those words to penetrate my being. My spirit rose up within me and interrupted my frantic mind. My inner strength called out to my brain screaming "I WILL NOT BE ASHAMED OF MYSELF! I WILL NOT DO THAT FOR YOU OR ANYONE ELSE LADY!" I smiled at the woman and politely pulled the fern to myself and walked away.
You see, I have dealt with feelings of shame my entire life, and I could not ingest her words. Not anymore.
You may have dealt with the same feelings, many of us do. The world tries to convince us that we are not enough or easily too much. Too big, too small, too loud, too quiet, the list of too much goes on and on. There are those that push conformity and silence upon their sisters. When we dare not conform to the status quo, we are often met with a hefty dose of shame. Shame is hard to shake because it is meant to make us feel bad about who we are, as if our humanness is flawed. Shame says that you as a person are bad. I am here to tell you that shame is a liar.
You are everything that is good, beautiful and worthy. Reject any voice that says otherwise.
Shameless. That is my new goal. I want to be brazened in being myself and walking in the fullness of my purpose. I want to be bold in the expression of who I am. Dear girl, I want that for you too. Reject the shame. Deny self-hatred. Drown out the critical voices with self-love and self-acceptance. You are not required to internalize feelings shame, not for anyone. Sister, you are enough. You always have been.