I wake up with that familiar pit in my stomach. Anxiety sits on my stomach like an overweight toddler, waking me up from my sleep. And then God’s voice says: Who are you inviting to sit at your table?
Oh wait, Fear and Shame, how the heck did you two get a seat here? You didn’t. You actually weren’t invited. You show up uninvited all the time. You come in like loud, obnoxious children – acting like you own the place. The worst kind of party crashers.
But this is my table. My mind. My heart. I don’t actually want you here.
In graduate school we heard a professor talk about the “committee” that we each have. These are, without sounding crazy, the voices we hear. Picture Inside Out, with all those characters sitting in a person’s brain. But our committee isn’t made up of emotions. It is made up of the voices that direct how we live our lives. For some it is their mother’s voice (for better or for worse). For others it is a teacher who said something that stuck (again, for better or for worse). Maybe it is not a person that you’ve known, but one of these obnoxious children – shame, anxiety, or one of their terrible siblings: insecurity, jealousy, rage, pride, the list goes on.
Who are you inviting to sit at your table?
Whose voice are you listening to?
Who is on your committee?
One of my students asked me the other day how I know/hear the Lord’s voice. I told her it requires recognizing and silencing a whole lot of other voices first.
Shame, for instance, is sneaky and deceptive. Shame feels personified to me in the serpent in Genesis. Shame says, “did God really say…?”
“Does God really love you?”
“Did God really want you to do that?”
Shame is the cause of second guessing. Shame is the kid in Polar Express saying, “Are you sure???”
Shame reminds me of a kid I nannied once who would sneak around and do something she wasn’t supposed to, and then lie to me about it. (Yeah, super fun job.) Shame is the darkness. Shame is silence and suppression and secrecy.
Christine Caine says that because of what we see in this verse in Genesis: “they were naked and felt no shame” – shame was an experience that we as humanity were never meant to feel.
Satan brought shame – let’s actually not even give him credit for creating something – he just, as he does, warped and manipulated freedom and vulnerability. He made us question and second guess God’s promises.
Worry (also responds to being called Fear or Anxiety), is an interesting child, because we can see some health there, right? Worry keeps us from doing really dangerous or stupid things. There’s an element of self-protection with worry. But worry is an over the top “protector.” Worry is like the mom reapplying sunscreen to her children every time they get out of the pool. Stop ruining all the fun, Mommm! Safety is good, but it is not guaranteed or always right. You won’t have much luck looking in the Bible for where God says, “Do what you need to do to keep yourself safe.”
He actually guarantees us that in the life He calls us to we will face trials and hardships. So Worry is this weirdo that tries to tell us we can do things to stay safe. That we can manufacture a life without anything hard. Worry tells us that’s the kind of life we want. But let’s be real, no one writes a book or makes a movie or creates a museum exhibit about a person who made safe, small, calculated decisions. Worry limits us from living abundant life. (Did you see Hidden Figures? I kept being shocked at the brave, bold choices they made to embrace the lives they were meant to live.)
Worry followed right behind Shame in the garden. Adam and Eve eat the fruit, they hide, and tell God: “I was afraid.” Worry keeps us from living out the freedom we are offered.
Just like children, Shame and Worry and all the rest tend to hang onto our ankles and refuse to leave us alone. They are needy, because unless we feed them and give them attention they will shrivel up and die. The worst thing we can do is be alone with them. We have to bring them into the light, no matter how risky that feels. We have to tell someone, so they don’t have power over us anymore. Then, we can uninvite them from our table. We can ignore and actively walk away from them.
So as you go about your day, I want you to consider this: Who are you inviting to sit at your table?
Be mindful of who is sitting at your table, or speaking on your committee. Mostly you only need the Trinity, and they will invite JOY, hope, peace, and freedom. Whoever is sitting at your table controls the way you will live your life, the ability you have to love, and the impact that you have on the world around you. This is no small thing. The same way we need truth-tellers in our lives, we need truth-tellers and brave-makers in our heads and hearts as well. Maybe at your table it isn’t Shame or Worry, but regardless – we need to be reevaluating our invites.
Today friend, I am praying this for you:
That God would silence the voice of the enemy in your life.
That shame would shrivel in the light of truth.
That Jesus would be so near that worry has no room to grow.
That the Holy Spirit would sweep through your life and rid it of any harmful voice or presence that would get in the way of your victorious, abundant life in Christ.