When Lies Seek to Ruin Us

I cry whenever my children perform in talent shows. I can’t help it. I am so proud of them. It takes courage to perform on stage and I want to encourage my children to be brave. This world needs brave people.

But when my son wanted to dance in a talent show, I wavered. After all, I know the gene pool he comes from and there aren’t many dance-y genes in there.

What will the other kids say? I thought.  What if he gets laughed at?

He persisted, undaunted by my wavering, and he danced to Axel F (my ’80’s heart was proud) and the crowd clapped and cheered and laughed in the places where they were supposed to. He loved it, and he experienced the thrill of trying something new.

And I cried as he danced. I cried because I was proud, but I also cried because my fears almost kept him from having this experience.

In a recent talent show, a spunky 10-year-old girl played the drums ROCKED the house on the drums. She definitely had talent, but even more, she enjoyed every second of playing those drums. She didn’t perform, she radiated.

And I cried while she played. An ache swelled in my heart as  questions filled my mind.  When did I stop finding joy in the things I’m good at? When did I get so insecure, afraid to try new things, afraid what others would think?

I can trace this fear back to lies I’ve believed over the years. Lies like I’m not good enough, my efforts won’t make a differenceit’s better to keep things the way they are, that change isn’t worth the effort.

These are lies I believed for far too long.

I hate lies. I hate they way they paralyze us, they way they eat into our souls, they way they cripple and maim.

I hate the lies that curl around my daughter’s heart, trying to take root, whispering in her ear, You are a nobody. You are useless. You are helpless.

I hate the lies my husband hears, You are a failure. You will never change.

There is no end to the lies we hear. You don’t deserve good things, You don’t matter, What you think doesn’t matter, You can’t make a difference.

Lies are powerful and if left in the dark they will take root and grow stronger until we eventually accept them as truth.

So what can we do? If we focus on the lie, even to argue against it, it grows stronger. The way to fight the lies is to change the playing field and focus on truth. As truth seeps into our hearts, the lies lose their power over us.

The truth really can set us free.

For years three major lies controlled my life. These lies  were just under the surface of my heart, influencing the way I viewed myself, the way I viewed God, and the way I believed God viewed me.

I found freedom as I listened to truth. As I began believing truth I found the freedom to begin living bravely, courageously, and honestly. Instead of being paralyzed by fear, my heart grew strong enough to begin fighting for hope. And in the midst of this journey I scribbled my thoughts on paper. These thoughts became a 31 day series called Truths That Make Life Beautiful, because that is exactly what they did.

Truths That Make Life Beautifulerinulerich.com

These truths changed me. You are loved. You are not alone. You have purpose.

When we feel unloved, alone, or useless, life is dark and filled with struggle.  When we believe lies, beauty is hard to find. But truth has a way of bringing fresh air as it chases away the darkness.

Truths That Make Life Beautiful

You are loved. You are not alone. You have purpose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh Mama, I Get It Now

Maybe it’s the hot weather. Maybe it’s all the togetherness we experience in the summer. But there are days when I’m pretty sure my children are out to get me. Moments when they seek to take my sanity and tear it into shreds.

Now don’t get me wrong. They are cuties.

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But sometimes there’s a gleam in their eyes that makes me a little nervous.

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I had one such moment standing in a public restroom with one of my daughters. I froze, my eyes bulging. If I were a cartoon character, steam would have been pouring out of my ears.

In that moment I remembered a scene from two decades ago. I remembered rolling my eyes at a group of mothers with small children  in the bathrooms at Disney World. Their words were terse, clipped.

“Stand right there.”

“Don’t touch anything.”

“No, no, NO! Get off the floor!”

I’ll never be that uptight, I muttered in all of my 17 year-old wisdom. Those moms need to get a grip.

And now, those words branded themselves in my brain as I stood in a not-very-clean public restroom and watched in slow-motion horror as my daughter licked the bathroom wall. (Why? Why would you do that?)

I felt dizzy and light-headed. I thought about germs, stomach viruses, and disease in general.

And the little wall-licker just looked at me like You need to get a grip.

 

I shouldn’t be surprised. I was a cutie too.

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A cutie with the same gleam.

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And there were moments when I pressed my sweet Mama’s sanity through the shredder.

I started at 5 years old with The Hide-and-Seek Incident. When it was my turn to hide I hurriedly scooted under my bed (it was the perfect spot!) and waited, fully expecting my friend to give up because I was in the best hiding place ever. (Is it clear that I wasn’t very good at this game?) He found me within a few minutes and began pulling on my legs. As he pulled I decided that if he couldn’t pull me out, it didn’t count. So I did the only thing I could do. I wrapped my teeth around a railing under the bed and just held on. He more he pulled, the harder I bit down. His stubbornness outmatched mine and when he finally pulled me out from under the bed my front teeth were sticking straight out.

I stood in front of the mirror trying to push my teeth back down. Mama stood beside me, looking at me. I couldn’t read her expression. I tried to explain, “I didn’t want him to find me!” but it’s really hard to talk when your teeth are running parallel to your top lip.

I know when Mama began her day, Most Traumatic Playdate was not on her list of things to do.

And that expression? Now I understand. Oh Mama, I get it.

 

In 5th grade I bounded into the house after school and announced, “Today was picture day and I forgot all about it!”

Mama gave me a once-over and a horrified expression filled her eyes.

I thought she was worried about paying for it, so I explained. “The secretary loaned me some money, and I can pay her back tomorrow.”

When her expression didn’t change, I figured she must have been worried about my hair. Again, wanting to put her at ease, I said, “And I borrowed a comb from someone.”

Her expression didn’t change.

I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know what her problem was. After all, I was wearing my favorite Battlestar Galactica t-shirt. I still loved it, even though the vinyl had peeled off in some places.

That was back in the day of film, and one-shot-is-all-you-got pictures. If you blinked or sneezed or wore an old t-shirt, you had an entire pack of pictures of that single moment.

Yeah, Mama. I get it now. Really, I do.

 

Then there was the Armadillo/Kitchen Knife Incident. I walked by a dead armadillo laying on the side of the road, which was not unusual. There were ALWAYS armadillos on the side of the road. I didn’t see one actually cross the road until, as an adult, I stopped my car so that one could make it across the street.

But on that day, for reasons I cannot explain, I was seized by the spirit of medical discovery. I wanted to know what that armadillo looked like on the inside. What color was his blood? Red? Green?

This was way before Google, and before our first set of encyclopedias, so there was only ONE WAY to find the answers to these pressing questions.

I grabbed my mother’s sharp kitchen knife and approached the dead animal. But when I touched the knife to his fleshy belly, the spirit of medical curiosity left me. I couldn’t do it.

I walked home feeling a bit deflated.

My mother was standing in the front yard. “What are you doing with my good kitchen knife?” her tone was clipped, terse.

In my defense, I had no idea that armadillos can carry leprosy. But my Mama knew. And I’m sure every fact she ever learned about the spread of disease raced through her mind as I told her.   “Well, there was an armadillo on the side of the road…”

I’ll bet she felt dizzy and light-headed. I’ll bet she heard it in slow motion.

And I get it.

The Wall-Licking Incident brought it all home.

 

 

Silencing Shame By Fighting For Hope

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My family loves watching American Ninja Warrior. My ten year old, Maggie, is on a first name basis with her favorites. I love the determination, the skill, and the strength of the competitors.

But most of all, I love their stories.

Flip Rodriguez, a competitor from Miami, Florida shared a part of his story and revealed a strength far greater than required for the obstacle course. He took off his mask, literally and figuratively. He brought a secret out into the light. He told the world that he had been sexually abused from the ages of 9-15. In a few short minutes he shared an extremely difficult piece of his story and then reached out to others caught in the same situation.

Before the show aired, he wrote on Instagram, “My story will finally come out to the world. One of the hardest things/ nervous times of my life. To let everyone into my world and what I’ve been through. In hopes of helping others that are going through it. To show you that you’re not alone in it. Just cause you’re in a situation doesn’t mean you have to stay there.”

He pushed through the shame, and in doing so, he lessened the shame others may feel about speaking up.

Shame is a fungus. It flourishes in the dark, covering us with its lies. Shame separates us from God by convincing us that though God’s love is real, it isn’t meant for us. Shame works overtime to make sure we feel alone, and that we stay alone. Eventually it convinces us that we are alone.

Brene Brown defines shame as “the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging. She says “Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.”

And Flip Rodriguez stared shame in the eye when we wrote “Just because you are in a situation doesn’t mean you have to stay there.”

He is fighting for hope and, by opening up about his past, he is reaching his hand across the gap to help others step out of the darkness of abuse.

His words on America Ninja Warrior were powerful. He communicated truth: This is not your fault. You are not alone. He offered empathy and understanding. and shame cannot survive where empathy and compassion are offered. Brene Brown explains it this way:

“If you put shame in a Petri dish, it needs 3 ingredients to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, judgement. If you put the same amount of shame in the petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive.”

It can’t survive. Empathy and understanding bring our shame out of the darkness and into the light – where hope can grow.

People are amazing. The way they fight for hope, even when things look and feel hopeless. I believe people do that because we are wired for hope. We were made for hope because we were created by the God of hope. This God of hope who takes the broken and messy and says to the darkness What you mean for evil, I will use for good. And that is the war cry of the Hope Warrior.

Hope warriors are not people who have it all together. They are not people who give surface answers to the messiness of life. Hope warriors are people who know their own brokenness, who aren’t afraid of the brokenness they see in others. They are people who say “I am with you. You are not alone.”

Hope warriors

 

Whether or not he wins America Ninja Warrior competition, Flip Rodriquez is definitely a Hope Warrior.

Our world needs Hope Warriors. Our world needs people who cling to the beauty of redemption, because there is so much that is broken.