Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter Shame

There were times when I would literally sit and count the number of people in the photos friends were posting of their church on Easter.

There were times when I completely forgot all that did happen on Easter morning because all I could think about is how I felt on Easter evening.

There were times when I dreaded having to hear colleagues talk about how many people came to church on Easter.

There were other times when I was fully aware of how many more people we had in our pews this year than we did the year before. But I would still see emptiness when I looked at the pictures of our space.

There was never enough. No matter how many people were in our pews, it was not enough.

But something changed yesterday. There was enough. There was more than enough people, more than enough food, more than enough passion, more than enough joy. When I looked out from my seat up front, I saw more people gathered in our sanctuary for worship than I had ever seen before. There were even people in the balcony, something that typically only happens when someone is wearing strong perfume below. 

Brene' Brown has powerfully named my standard Easter emotion. She calls it the shame-based fear of being ordinary, a fear that may be more powerful in my life than any other fear I know. It's what she describes as the "fear of never feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed, to be lovable, to belong, or to cultivate a sense of purpose" (Daring Greatly, page 22).

While I have always known that I am a beloved person with a powerful sense of purpose, I've regularly feared that I am not extraordinary enough. This fear pushes me to often compare myself to others which regularly only helps me see my own sense of inadequacy. And there is nothing faithful about such feelings.

Brene' has helped me see that scarcity is a great lie. It is even more so for people of faith who believe we worship a God of abundance - a God who says there is always more than enough, and that we are more than enough just as we are.

I'm trying hard to live wholeheartedly. Wholehearted living, according to Brene', includes ten things. I offer my five favorites below:

1. Cultivating Authenticity: Letting Go of What People Think
2. Cultivating Self-Compassion: Letting Go of Perfectionism
4. Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark
6. Cultivating Creativity: Letting Go of Comparison
9. Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting Go of Self-Doubt and "Supposed To"

Imagine how different the week after Easter would be if we sought to do the hard work of cultivating these gifts within us. Imagine how different we would feel about the gifts God brought on Easter if we refused to compare our church with any other church, our sermon with any other sermon, our music with any other music, our size with any other size.

I've come a long way.

I still have a way to go.

I'm going to try again.

What about you?

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