God, My Story

Shamed if You Do, Shamed if You Don’t

There’s nothing like shame to make you second guess yourself. Over the past year, it seems like everywhere I look I see shaming attitudes, comments, and actions. One person says or does something that another person doesn’t like and instead of just disagreeing and leaving it at that, shameful venom spews from their mouth against it. Then the hurt person either slinks away to lick wounds or retaliates in kind. I keep hoping this shame-fire will die back, but as soon as it starts to wane, more fuel is added and it sparks to life again. 

I have seen some real debate when both parties try to express their own views and it seems like they are listening to each other rather than combatting. But still, overall the nation seems to be in a shaming loop. I have felt that shame directed at me, directed at those I love, AND directed at those whose views I don’t agree with. It seems like whatever people do, or don’t do, they’ll be made an example of. 

This has been so hard for me personally because I dealt with shame for a good portion of my life. As an adult I have come to learn that even when shame is thrown at me from something outside of myself, I am the one who actually chooses if it gets to hook into me or not. As a child, I didn’t understand this and so attitudes and actions done to me resulted in intense shame for me. As I’ve matured, I can see how Satan is the one who really slings shame and who whispers in my ear and to my heart that I have to wear this shame. Knowing that, I can choose NOT to agree with it. And as a Christian, I have the added victory that Jesus’ blood cleared away all that shame, empowering me to walk in love and confidence. 


But… because I am intimately acquainted with the feeling of shame, I sense it easily when it’s hanging around. I recognize when it’s trying to invade my thoughts and make me feel less than the person God made me to be. I want to share a few specific examples that have been heavy on my heart during this past year – Coronavirus response, Racial Incidents response, and the 2020 Election. It does scare me a little to share these thoughts because they are such hot button issues and I’ve stayed away from speaking about them publicly, but nonetheless, I want to express a few thoughts on them and the theme of shame I’ve seen running through them.


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It all started about a year ago when we heard reports about a new virus in China. Then we heard how it was affecting other countries and finally we got hit hard too. It seemed like most of the country closed down for a while and more and more health safety protocols/restrictions were put in place. Fear began to build until it was towering over our nation. Fear of sickness and death. Fear of lack of freedom and choice. Fear of hurting the common good AND the individual good. But which one is right? That’s the thing, I’m not sure there is just ‘one right thing’. And yet, the shaming began. If you go out unmasked in public… Shame on you! …If you require me to wear a mask…Shame on you! If you hold gatherings… Shame on you! …If you restrict my freedom to gather… Shame on you! And on and on it goes. 

It has become so shameful that contracting Coronavirus seems akin to getting an STD! If you got the virus early on, then people assumed you had done something wrong by disobeying the rules or being reckless. It was then assumed that you passed it on to so many people unknowingly that therefore, you were worthy to be shamed. And now, the virus is almost everywhere and if you get it, you could have picked it up at work (while following proper guidelines) or at gatherings (with or without recommended protocols). Yet, there has been enough shame around it that people still want to remain anonymous when they contract it. (Some, not all.) But how can people reach out to help others who are sick if they have no idea who is sick? How can people safely assess whether or not they themselves should take some extra precautions if they don’t know who it is that has been sick in their midst? My hope is that as this becomes more common, people will feel less shame and negative stigma around contracting it and feel free and clear to talk about their experience with the disease and get the help (can we say MealTrain!) from the community around them.

Racial Incidents…

We’ve had a number of racial incidents throughout all this time too. They have garnered an outcry from blacks, browns, whites, and so many others. Our nation aches with the injustice, anger, fear, and yes… shame from all this. I heard messages like… Talk to your friends of color and hear their stories of injustice to understand all this and if you don’t… Shame on you! …I’m so sick of white people asking me questions just because I’m black! Don’t talk to me about this and if you do… Shame on you! …You must speak out about these incidents because if you don’t…Shame on you! …You just spoke out about these incidents… Shame on you! And on and on it goes.

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In all this, I am feeling some similarities to when I’ve read books on transracial adoption. For the most part, many of these books are written from a positive and educational viewpoint. But, there are a few that are quite negative and carry a feeling on them that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. As I discussed the difference between my perceived feelings on different books with an African-American friend of mine, he cautioned me about what he called, ‘white-shaming.’ I hadn’t heard this term before. But as he explained it, a lightbulb went on. Some of the things said are not only to inform and educate, but also to toss a bit of shame onto the person thinking of transracially adopting. I didn’t realize! I suddenly could see what he was talking about and from then on, it was so easy to spot this sort of thing. Since then, I’ve seen it not only in books to the public, but also directly to me – from people of color AND also plenty of whites too. I’m so thankful for the people who speak and write about this topic that truly want to educate readers and help them along what is a difficult journey. These people write from a place of hope and care. 


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This has been the most watched and talked about election for me in my life-time. I know some will say that the election 4 years ago was just as big, but I wasn’t quite as mentally involved then, so I’m going to speak from my experience of this year. On top of the already very stressful time we’ve been having lately, we then are in the midst of a very chaotic election season and post-season. My heart breaks for the way our nation has divided so clearly. People who talk about their beliefs and ideals on either side of the ‘divide’ are being shamed back and forth. The messages are…You said a positive thing about this candidate (either one)… Shame on you! … You said a negative thing about this candidate (either one)… Shame on you! … You haven’t shown public support for this candidate (either one)… Shame on you! You have shown bipartisan support for both candidates… Shame on you! 

It seems like we don’t know how to be a nation that can hold strong ideals that disagree with one another, yet still be united. I read one politician who said, ‘Now that we’ve been divided, it’s time to be united.’ Yes, I agree, but why did we have to be so divided in the first place? Why do the politicians have to use shame in order to gather people to their side of the aisle? Left and Right I’ve heard and felt shame. I would like a leader who knows how to govern ALL PEOPLE with love and kindness. One who doesn’t have to shame and have their constituents join in the melee. We need peace in our nation and I just don’t see it. I know, I know… ‘But Brittany, it’s always been this way since the beginning of our country!’ True. But still, I can dream and hope for change can’t I?

But Hope…

So the shame in this country at this moment is at least 3-fold (virus, racial tension, election)  if not even more. We’ve been sitting under this shame for getting close to a year! How have we bared up under it? How have we dealt with the intense pressure to ‘get it all right’ in order to keep shame away? How are we monitoring our own hearts? Are we allowing the shame around us to attach itself to us? Are we struggling under the weight of the shame heaped on us? What are we choosing?

As I’ve looked in Bible to help me understand what God says about shame, I’ve found out that God does not put me to shame nor is His plan for me to live in shame. The bible says ‘No one who hopes in You will ever be put to shame. – Psalm 25:3b.’ and also ‘…hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. – Romans 5:5So, when I feel the claws of shame trying to hook themselves into me, I’ll pause and look to Jesus for the hope that will never put me to shame. Then that shame will not find a place to attach and I can move forward in life with my head held high.

I pray that we all experience renewed hope in our hearts today, in this moment. I pray that God’s love will be poured out even more into our hearts through the Holy Spirit and that we can use that to heal our areas of influence. I pray that we will know the Hope that does not put us to shame, but instead raises us up in God’s glory and power with confidence to take the next step in our lives. So, to all of us, let us choose HOPE!

God, My Story

Standing Stuck


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I just stood at my kitchen counter, staring. I couldn’t figure out what I should be doing next. It was like I was immovable. I had no desire to do anything that would push forward the to-do list in my life nor did I have the energy to interact with my children and I couldn’t even find it in me sit and relax. It was as if everything came to a standstill and the only thing that made sense was to be in one spot without making any choices without having any interruptions and without having any expectations on me.

This is a weird state for me to be in. I’m the kind of person who always keeps going. I’m constantly go-go-going and do-do-doing. Even my times of rest and relaxation are still anchored in accomplishment – finishing reading a book or finishing a puzzle or something to that effect. Wasting time or being inactive is just not usual for me. But over the last few weeks this state of ‘being stuck’ has seemed to encroach on me more and more.

I know, some might say it looks like depression. And maybe there are some aspects of depression to it. After all, life as I’ve known it has changed drastically and I don’t have any promises that things will be back to ‘normal’ at any time. Some might say it’s decision fatigue and I’m sure that there’s plenty of that going on too. With every change that’s come my way, a myriad of decisions has had to be made as well. But when I think back about what my life has been like in the past few weeks and months preceding that, I can see that this is a state of heightened feelings of being overwhelmed. I push for as long as I can to do the things that I absolutely have to do and when those are done or when my energy runs out, I stop and it takes a while for me to regroup in order to do the next thing. Can any of you guys relate? I feel like I’ve been on a non-stop hamster wheel over the past year!


So what’s going on? It would be very easy to blame this on the pandemic and the pre- and post-election tension that’s all around, as well as all the other daily life stressors and obligations that come our way. But, I’m not sure that I want to use the excuse of blame in this situation. I don’t want to live in a place of blaming because when I do that, I don’t move towards resolving the issue at hand. When I live in a place of blaming I’m constantly looking back and constantly trying to find the reason for why things are the way they are so that I can shirk my responsibilities for making positive changes in my life.

Over the past few months, I haven’t been writing, I haven’t been singing, I haven’t been doing many things that move my life forward. I’ve been doing the bare essentials which include plenty of good things, but mostly those that maintain the status quo. Things like making sure my family is fed, clothed, and clean. Things like making sure my children are educated as well as the students in my voice studio. Things like maintaining a level of community and connection while still adhering to the standards of health and safety all around us. Things like maintaining the balance of my spiritual life and the feeling of peace and rest in our home.

But, under all of that, I feel that something is missing. I feel that something is askew. I feel like there’s something that is unresolved and unsettled. Something that is weighing on me in the background of my mind; in the background of my actions; in everything. And it is this thing that I need to discover so that I can move my life forward.

I suppose this ‘thing’ could be from the fact that I’m a feeler. It’s as if I can feel the general feelings of those around me and even the feelings on a broader scale (community groups, people groups, nationally, etc). Or maybe it’s something in the spiritual world. As a spiritual person, I believe that there is a spirit world all around that’s fighting for the influence of my being and my attention. or maybe it’s just plain fatigue. I’m a busy person who rarely takes a break unless forced into it somehow. Honestly, that isn’t very healthy.

Getting Unstuck…

So, how do I get ‘unstuck’? What are the things I do, or don’t do, that give me a jumpstart once again? I’ve let this question roll around in my mind for quite some time. I’ve been trying things out and hoping to find that balanced point again. It’s not been one simple answer, but rather a series of things that when put together, have really helped.

In no particular order, I started to try things out. I had to prepare some music for a lesson and so, I just started singing. This led to more singing and piano playing. That was just the bit of motivation I needed to jumpstart my own singing and playing for pleasure! When my kids heard me playing and singing, they’d come around me and join in – not all the time, but enough that my heart was warmed. Now, I know that music doesn’t ignite passion in everyone, but I do think there’s something that each of us is passionate about. It can be so hard to just have the activation energy to start something (read more on that in the book Flow by Csikszentmihalyi), but once we get going, we often feel the continuation of it uses much less energy than getting started.

I also made a renewed commitment to my devotional time. I had started to let my mind wander much more during my Bible time. I allowed distractions (Can we say… phone?) to interrupt me more regularly. I stopped journaling because I just ‘wasn’t feeling like it.’ All these things put together created decreasing returns in my quiet time with Jesus. So, I found some simple and easy prayer devotionals on YouVersion and I continued with my daily Bible reading. I grabbed my journal more frequently to write down how I was feeling, what I was thinking, and just generally trying to be in the moment and not lost in the past or the future. All these together have really helped to get me back on track with my Jesus time. I feel like the relationship is once again, moving! (not that God ever stops moving, but I sometimes do)

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Lastly, I began talking and walking again. Sometimes these happened together and sometimes separate. I need to talk to people about what’s going on inside my head. I need to be able to hear it out loud before I can assess whether or not what I’m thinking actually makes any sense! I admit it! I’m an external processor. My best times of thinking or talking are when I’m doing something. Things like doing a puzzle, cleaning, or taking a walk. Whether I’m out walking with someone or even just taking that time alone, it really helps to order my thoughts and reinvigorate my physical body with energy. If I can’t walk with a person, then I listen to a podcast. Somehow, hearing the rhythm of another voice helps me either focus in on what’s being said, or sends my mind onto a rabbit trail of its own. When I can go down the rabbit trails and sort through the tall grass, I often come out into a ‘clearing’ in my thinking. This is so beneficial for me and I can return to my family and my activities with a much more focused and clear mind. So, yeah… doing something physical is super helpful for me too.

As I reflect back from when I began this blog weeks, even months earlier, I see how much’ life’ has happened since then. I couldn’t finish it earlier because I didn’t have a solution. I was still stuck. I hoped that just writing it out would get me unstuck, but I was still very much in the midst of it. I didn’t realize it. I wanted to force my way out of it through one simple act – writing. But, I couldn’t. If I had I wouldn’t have been true to allowing myself to feel the feelings, wade through the muck, and eventually see some more forward motion. It was hard to wait and hard to be in that place, but I’m thankful God is always ready to take the next step with me. Even when I’m afraid of being stuck, He isn’t. Even when I’m too tired to be motivated, He patiently waits and speaks ideas into my heart and mind. He isn’t pushy and He’s not a push-over. I’m so incredibly thankful for my Lord. With His help, I’ll continue the cadence and flow of my life, one day at a time.