Monthly Archives: July 2011

Naked and Unashamed?

Shame does not let you live your life out loud.

Shame is a harsh task-master isn’t it?  John Bradshaw in his book Healing The Shame that Binds You says this about shame:

“What is the shame that binds you? How did it get set up in
your life? What happens to healthy shame in the process?

Toxic shame, the shame that binds you, is experienced as
the all-pervasive sense that I am flawed and defective as a
human being. Toxic shame is no longer an emotion that
signals our limits, it is a state of being, a core
identity. Toxic shame gives you a sense of worthlessness, a
sense of failing and falling short as a human being. Toxic
shame is a rupture of the self with the self.

It is like internal bleeding. Exposure to oneself lies at
the heart of toxic shame. A shame based person will guard
against exposing his inner self to others, but more
significantly, he will guard against exposing himself to
himself.

Toxic shame is so excruciating because it is the painful
exposure of the believed failure of self to the self.
[selves to selves too we believe] In toxic shame the self
becomes an object that can’t be trusted, one experiences
oneself [selves] as untrustworthy. Toxic shame is
experienced as inner torment, a sickness of the soul. If
I’m an object that can’t be trusted, then I’m not in me.
Toxic shame is paradoxical and self-generating. There is
shame about shame. People will readily admit guilt, hurt or
fear before they will admit shame. Toxic shame is the
feeling of being isolated and alone in a complete sense. A
shame-based person is haunted by a sense of absence and
emptiness…”

Shame is a spiritual and generational stronghold that we all face as it was passed down to all of humanity from our first parents, Adam and Eve.  Just like Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves together to cover their physical nakedness, we sew emotional, spiritual and relational fig leaves together to cover our own shame and fear.

Shame isolates.  Shame is a violating dictator demanding full attention and service from us.  Shame is a liar and a thief.  Shame enslaves.

Shame ensures that we live our lives frantically sewing fig leaves together to cover our shame but then rips the cover off to expose us at our most vulnerable moments.  Shame is a capricious and abusive bully.   Shame demands that we hide our true selves from ourselves, from others and God.  It never works.

But what would it mean to live naked and unashamed?  Over the next several days I am going to look at what shame does to us and as well as the very real freedom that Jesus has for us so that we can indeed live our lives naked and unashamed.

I pray that if you are reading this you will decide to go on this journey with me as I share my own bondage to shame as well as the hope and freedom Jesus has given me ; enabling me to live my life out loud, naked and unashamed.

He will do the same for you.

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Well done my good and faithful servant…

While Kevin, Kayla and I were in Minnesota visiting family our beloved Grandma Ruth (Kevin’s grandmother) peacefully and joyfully passed from this life into the next.  We were privileged to be with her in her last moments of life.

Ruth Lofgren Meyer Malakowsky was a month shy of turning 99 and she lived her years well!   Until a month before she passed she lived alone in her apartment and remained actively involved in family, community and church life.

At 98 Grandma Ruth had outlived her 12 siblings, two husbands all of their siblings, most of her cousins and friends, and one son.  As a pastor I have attended many visitations and funerals through the years and you come to expect that the older the person you are remembering and honoring the fewer people will be present at the funeral because most if not all of their loved ones are gone.

Not so Grandma Ruth!  I would say that between the visitation and funeral close to 300 people came to pay their respects and honor her life.  This is amazing when  you consider that she spent most of her life within a six-mile radius between small northern Minnesota towns.  Why so many?  Because she remained active and engaged with life up to the very end.  People looked forward to seeing her in her daily and weekly routine.

Few people outside of this small slice of rural Minnesota life would know Ruth Malakowsky but those of us who did were forever changed by her kindness and her non-judgmental accepting of those around her.  If I had to define Grandma Ruth’s life in one word it would be kind.  She was kind to everyone.  She didn’t make great speeches recorded for posterity or start a movement or write an epic novel.  She wasn’t someone who was at the forefront of things.  But she impacted many lives by her quiet and unassuming ways and gentle acceptance of others.

Grandma Ruth had chosen three scriptures for her funeral but we needed one more.  As we considered who she was and what her life represented we agreed that Philippians 3.4-9 about summed it up:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

It is easy to deify those who have passed on so I must tell you that I believe this is something that Grandma Ruth grew to embrace and embody.  When I first met Kevin and was introduced to his family during our dating years he would often remark that Grandma Ruth was a worrier.  Not so the Grandma Ruth of the last years she seemed to fully embrace this into her life.  Even with her eyesight failing from macular degeneration, a cancer battle and a broken arm she stayed peaceful and a delight to be with.  I’m not sure I ever heard her complain!

Every time we visited Kevin’s family the kids wanted to make sure they got to see their  Great-Grandma Ruth.  Below is the last picture we have of Grandma Ruth with Daniel and Kayla taken last July, 2010.

Doesn’t she look amazing for 97?  Grandma Ruth epitomized the phrase “she looks like she just stepped out of a band box.”  Even at 97 she took great care of her “temple”: eating right, staying active, caring for people, going to the hair salon every week and usually fully accessorized when she left the house.  A woman after my own heart!

I entered the Larson family almost 30 years ago.  A loud, opinionated, immature, broken pre-law major with a chip on her shoulder and a desire to change the world.  I am sure I was like preening peacock among more somber doves (I mean that as a compliment to Kevin’s family).  I remember meeting Kevin’s Grandma Ruth before we were engaged and feeling one thing from her: accepted.  I think that is what everyone felt when they were with her.

Exodus 6.4-6 tells us this:  “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,  but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

I am fully confident that Ruth Lofgren Meyer Malakowsky has left a legacy of loving the Lord Jesus Christ that will transcend a 1000 generations of those who come from her generational line.  I know that Kevin, our kids and I are beneficiaries of her legacy and we intend to honor it with our lives as we continue to serve Jesus.

As we stood at her bedside on July 3rd, 2011 at 11:15 PM Grandma Ruth quietly and gently breathed her last breathes in this life.  She simply left her body and was welcomed home by her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I could almost hear Jesus say to her: “Welcome home Ruth my good and faithful servant.  Well done, well done.”

That is what I call ending well.