A shinny new sports car!
Fast. Convertible. Hot stuff. As it growled away I thought,
“What a Fig Leaf!”
In about 30 seconds you can see (or hear) the things people do to cover up… to compensate and distract themselves and others from their insecurities. It’s all a Fig Leaf dance done to hide shame.
To see it in ourselves can take a bit more time. Funny how that is!
We are always, it seems, pushing back somehow on the sense that we aren’t enough. (Even by drawing a comparison, which is what I did when I spotted a sport car fig leaf, reveals my cover up attempt, “I’m not as bad as that.” I said in my heart.)
Consciously or unconsciously we send signals to whomever might listen, even if the listener is us:
• I’m smart enough
• I’m talented enough
• I’m wealthy enough
• I’m pious enough
• I’m capable enough
• I’m attractive enough
• I’m good enough
• I’m strong enough
• I’m loved enough
• I’m dedicated enough
• I’m worthy enough
I. am. okay.
Each way a Fig Leaf. Each way a stab at trying to reconnect and find home. We all long for connection and acceptance.
Social creatures as we are, we still want to look like we have it all under control and can go it alone. The sinking feeling that perhaps we cannot sends a jolt of pain that has us picking fig leaves and making coverings for ourselves.
The truth is being vulnerable feels like being naked. We hate it. We feel exposed. We’d rather hide.
If something or someone reveals our mistake or shortcoming, we take it personally–as a reflection of some core flaw. Fig leaves are everywhere.
I don’t have a sport car to show off, so my fig leaf might not be so obvious to others. But it’s there! Oh, and I have much more than one fig leaf too. I too feel like I’m not enough, and plenty of ways and failures come up each day to point it out for me.
The only thing that helps to give me traction and drop a few leaves is admitting it and risking and then relying on my closest relationships to reorient me–including my relationship with God. Those who really love me reinforce that I already am worthy of love and acceptance. God reaches out in Scriptures, through others, and in the Living Word (Jesus the Christ) to drill home the fact that he covers all shame with empathy and love.
Guilt = I did something wrong (admit it, fix it, move on)
Shame = I am something wrong (we stay stuck, we go numb, we disconnect, we over-protect ourselves)
If you want to drop a few pitiful fig leaves, start by taking a risk and reveal why you cover up. You don’t have to do it in public, but apparently you have to do it to be well.
Brené Brown (who you’ve probably realized by now has inspired this post) says that “We are only as sick as our shame.”
I’m reading this, and I recommend it to anyone who has a Fig Leaf or two.
PRAYER FOR THE SHAMEFUL
God, hear my prayer!
I keep scrounging for things to make me feel better.
I remain unfound by your love in times when I deeply need it.
Be my Hope and Deliver
Let your love wash over me and renew me
That I can be born again into a greater Light and Love
And even as a new born baby is vulnerable and so dearly loved
Let me sense that I am your child in the same way
I am strongest and most protected when I realize I am in your arms
Let me sense your acceptance and closeness.
Remind me of who and where you are.
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