14 Mar What Snorkeling Taught Me About Shame
I love the beach. One of my favorite things to do when I’m there is to go snorkeling, especially if the water is really clear. I’m a science nerd so I love seeing sea life I’ve learned about in school. Our creative God has made some really unique animals.
A few years ago while snorkeling in the Florida Keys I saw a Lion Fish, which is an invasive species in the Atlantic Ocean. They are interesting to me because they’re actually pretty dangerous; they have rays on their fins that are full of venom which they use to defend themselves. I always love to see the really colorful fish when I’m snorkeling, too. I love the bright yellow tangs, blue surgeonfish, and of course, the cute ones: clownfish. One of my favorite fish, though, is a tiny little thing about as long as your pinky finger. These little guys are seriously cute. When you swim up close to them, they back up super quickly into holes in rocks or holes in the sand. They stay there a few seconds and then start to peek their heads back out of the hole, but if you’re still there, they swim backwards into their homes, not willing to risk getting hurt.
This might sound super nerdy, but I think one reason I might like these little guys is because I can relate to them, to the hiding. When I feel shame about something, the first thing I want to do is hide. I want to hide myself from those who might see me outside, exposed, and vulnerable.
“When I feel shame about something, the first thing I want to do is hide.”
Different kinds of shame tell me a lot of different things about myself: I’m worthless, unlovable, dirty, tainted, ugly, immature, stupid, unacceptable. All of these adjectives shame uses to describe me become really believable after a while because, above all else, shame tells me what I’ve done is repulsive to other people and to God, and that I’m alone in the world. I’ve discovered that shame pushes me into hiding like nothing else can. Listening to what shame says makes me isolate myself, ostracize myself, hide from the other fish, and back into my hole afraid to be seen and afraid to be known. Believing shame shifts my identity from blood-bought child of the King to something worse than despicable.
What these little fish don’t realize is that I love them. They are fascinating to me. They have an interesting way of making their homes in rocks and sand, they have really cool friendships with shrimp, and they’re super cute to boot. Seeing them when I go snorkeling always makes me smile.
“Listening to what shame says makes me isolate myself, ostracize myself, hide from the other fish, and back into my hole afraid to be seen and afraid to be known.”
I am learning that God sees me the way I see these fish. Maybe when I come out of hiding and embrace the world around me, it makes Him smile. But how much more does God love me than I love these little fish!
For me, a huge part of working through feelings of shame I’ve been fighting in this season of my life has been forcing myself out of my hole and into the light, into a place I can be seen, into a place I am uncomfortable and vulnerable. Confessing my shame and the sins and struggles behind it to someone who can help me see myself the way God does is necessary. Galatians 5:1 says that it is “for freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (ESV). Another version translates this verse by urging the Galatians not to be “entangled again” in bondage (KJV). This verse reminds me that the momentary discomfort I feel in confessing my struggles brings real life—freedom—and that backing into my hole, hiding, is essentially choosing to remain tangled up in bondage, choosing to remain ensnared by one of the very things Christ died to save me from.
“May we stop seeing ourselves the way shame tells us to, and may we start seeing ourselves the way God does: beloved and free.”
Dear sisters, it is my prayer that we will all learn more and more about what it looks like to come outside of the comforts of our hiding places. May we stop hiding from other people and from God. May we stop seeing ourselves the way shame tells us to, and may we start seeing ourselves the way God does: beloved and free.
Titus 3:4-7 (ESV)
“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
Hannah loves going for a drive, being by the water, and learning about anything at all. Getting a new stamp in her passport is her favorite feeling and she loves to sit on the porch on warm summer nights. She loves to make people laugh and cook them some supper. Hannah attends our Powdersville campus.