WORDS | KYLIE SHACKELFORD
PHOTOS | BRIAN DEL ROSARIO & KATEY LEE
LETTERING | SAM PALENCIA
I am writing to you because you are translucent. My friend, I see through you and I love the mess right out of you. Take a second and look at me. Set your guardrails aside, put away the inner pit bull that stands to defend the pieces and parts of you that you like to hide, turn off your security alarms and sit with me. Do you feel the heavy weight of shame and regret like I do? Do you know what it means to feel bound, bloody and marred, lost and alone?
There are pieces of ourselves that we keep pent up in the secrecy of our polluted minds. They are those things that we clench our fists around, the emotional boulders that make us exhausted and coax us into believing that we are unworthy of love and belonging. They're real bitches. They’re the culprits that stand in intimidating presence whispering in our ears that we can never be free, so we might as well quit fighting while we’re behind.
Recognize their voices?
There seems to be something that is universally wrong with us. Our bodies are tired, our culture is anxious, we are overmedicated, can’t stop eating, and we are all too familiar with the bitter sting of loneliness, even when we are in the presence of friends and confidants. WHY.
I, for one, am fed up. I am beginning to think that we are all searching for the same thing and I think that it could be simplified and diluted to the foreign word: wholeness. In the beginning and along the way, we’ve lost pieces of ourselves. If we were honest with each other, we’d say that we can really feel it. We can spin around in circles talking about what things in life might make us whole, fill us up, make us feel alive; but I think that it is crucial that we acknowledge the vast and painful void, that empty space, the searing wound in our souls.
We work hard to make sure that everything looks “just right” on the outside. Scroll through our Instagram accounts and you’ll find beautiful landscapes and pensive words; you’ll find a front. We’ve become professional illusionists, you and I, and I think that it’s high time that we call our own bluffs.
Here's the truth. If we want to live and love with the entirety of our hearts, experience fully the freedom to create and let our minds run with inhibition, if we want to engage the world, teaching it how to be free, we must talk about the things keep us from doing so.
Saint, here is the sweet, sweet truth: Those of us who have been redeemed by the salvific blood of Christ are no longer bound to sin. Ashamed, can you see the mystery, can you taste the wonder, do you hear the audacity in that statement?! Once redeemed, you are covered, fully covered. His holy saints are slaves to sin no longer, bound to fear no longer; they are dead to the destructive life of rebellion that they once walked in and have been made alive. Really truly on this dirty earth they can live fully into the very life of Christ. It is outlandish but the audacity of the gospel cannot and will not negate its truth. The question that I am raising to you, is if in fact we believe in His gospel, why are we content to carry on living as if we are slaves to shame? Why are we hiding from each other?
I am sitting next to you in hopes that you will hear me when I tell you that you are not alone; you need not hide. You can come out from behind the curtain, for there are fellow redeemed people on these earthly grounds who freaking GET IT. They're learning how to love unconditionally, how to be present, listening, giving, encouraging. They are the kind of people who want to know you, because truth be told, they themselves simply want to be known. If we'd all quit standing behind our shame-curtains I think we'd realize that we all kind of look alike, kind of need the same things, and I think we'd laugh at ourselves and how much time we spent hiding from each other like the little 5-year-old who ate all 7 cookies in the cookie jar.
I understand. The truth is that we all understand what it’s like to be afraid, to feel the haunting urge to retreat, coil up, and live silently bound by shame, outside of the warm embrace of love and belonging. But I am discontent living here and I am all the more discontent with you making your home in shame.
Can we lift the veil?
Can we be brave and peer behind the curtain for a bit? Come and live freely, wholeheartedly in the fullness of Christ and in the power of his redemption. Through the struggle, through the pain, the deepest delights, and the intoxicating joys. Let us be a people who understand what it means to love and belong to one another. Shame does not get to have the power to cripple us, steering us away from our God, away from others, nor does it get to bully us away from lives of flourishing.
Dear ashamed, be not ashamed. You need not live there for the muck and the mire that you are wading through does not get to have the power to hold you captive in its filth. You were made for so much more. Grab my hand, let’s walk together, forgiven by the blood of the Lamb, shamelessly, wholeheartedly in the way of the Christ.