My job is super relational. I spend most of my days with people. I listen. I dream. I pray. I speak. This is my job. In my handful of years in ministry it seems like there are seasons where specific topics dominate my conversations. This week was no exception. I found myself saying to different people in different contexts, over and over: "shame is not sustainable."
What I mean is: shame can't be our driving force. At least not forever.
Side note: This week, I talked to THE coolest college students. I was so self absorbed through college, it always amazes me when I sit across from women who take cross country road trips and serve the refugee population in Columbus. Seriously folks, this generation of college students rock. I talked to this particular person about my ethical fashion journey and her desire to consume consciously. We reflected on our motivations and I found myself saying repeatedly, "you can't be motivated by shame. It isn't sustainable."
We watch documentaries and read articles and share stories and learn and consume and then we want to change our lifestyle. Whether it's ethical fashion or veganism or training for a marathon or waking up at 6am, everyone seems to have something they want to grow in or develop. This is great, but if your choices are motivated by shame, they aren't going to stick.
I'm a phase person. When I asked Steve how long he thought my most recent endeavor of caring for a digital plant would last. He gave me a week. (I'm proud to say I am 10 days into being a Plant Nanny and I am still caring for said digital plant).
But shopping ethically hasn't been a phase. It's something that's changed everything for me for well over a year.
I speak a lot about The True Cost documentary. It's a phenomenal documentary exposing the truth about fast fashion. In this film, you'll hear countless heart breaking stories. After watching The True Cost, I had two choices. I could see these images and hear these stories and thus feel immense guilt for how I lived my life. I could wallow in self pity and shame. I could start shopping ethically, but feel guilt/shame every time I walk into Target and Old Navy (my former kryptonite). That might carry my ethical fashion journey for a month.
Conscious shopping has lasted so long for because instead of being motivated by shame, I'm empowered. I see the images and hear the stories and instead of feeling horrible about my choices, I feel empowered to do something. Slavery is such an issue in so many different contexts and my shopping decisions empower me to do something. I don't have to stand by while the slavery cycle continues, I can resist and educate and raise awareness. I can be empowered to do something.
I shared with another student about my battle with an eating disorder. I've experienced a ton of victory in the past few years, by the grace of God. But in the beginning stages of recovery, the struggle got worse and harder and scarier. I was living by the shame I felt for my struggle. I could go behavior-free for 2 days being motivated by shame. It finally clicked that life without an eating disorder was empowering. I didn't have to be a slave to myself. I could do something about it.
I've been convicted lately to stop sitting on the sidelines and participate. I want to do something with my life. But in order to make positive life choices and change my habits, I can't be motivated by shame. It doesn't last. I think we need to do a better job at stepping up to the plate instead of wrapping ourselves in pride camouflaged by shame. If you're hoping to speak up and live differently, do it. Do it do it do it. But let it last. Shame can't fuel your passion. You have so much more to live for than shame.
We aren't meant to live by shame which is why it can't sustain us.
Galatians 5:1 "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free."
What motivates you? What choices/goals/habits have you created and how have you stuck with them?