stories of shame: a 10-part series

stories of shame blog button (1)

There is something about a story that draws us in – that engages us in a way that no other genre can. The power of a story hit me anew as we were driving back from South Carolina last Friday. It was getting late; it was rainy; and halfway into the 7-hour drive, I was already done. Then I started listening to a story (Serial Season 1 by This American Life), and I’m telling you, my driving experience transformed from monotonous to engaging. I found myself almost regretting the moment when we pulled into the driveway because it meant that I had to press pause on the story.

Isn’t that the power of a good story told well? More than mere entertainment or an academic lecture, it engages both our hearts and our minds.

I want to be a better storyteller. I want to tell the truth of who I am with all my heart (a paraphrase of Brené Brown/Glennon Melton Doyle). And especially to lead the conversation around shame that I hope to begin with my book’s launch next monthUnashamed: Healing our Brokenness and Finding Freedom From Shame.

I want to connect my story – and thereby your story – with The Story. The Story that makes ultimate sense of all of our stories, and which is the birthplace of each of our stories. The Story = humanity’s beginning, God’s eternity, Jesus’ salvation, + resurrection hope.

Don’t miss this series – subscribe now to my blog so that you’ll catch every part, delivered into your inbox [see sidebar where you can enter your email address].

And go ahead and pre-order my book if you want to hear more. I’d be so honored for you to join this journey with me!

Without further ado – part 1:

I remember life before shame. Neighborhood bike rides through streets as idyllic as their names – Sweetwater Court, Sugar Creek Road, Sun Meadow Road, Berrywood Court. Building forts in our wooded backyard with very little parental supervision because, well, it was safe, and we knew all of our neighbors. Family vacations with my two younger brothers. The rare joy of snow days as the main break from the normal, happy routine of church-school-home, repeat. Getting dressed in whatever I felt like. Being sad when I outgrew my favorite red sweater with panda bears on it. The worst “trauma” being a broken arm (or two) and a skinned knee.

Life felt secure, and so did I. Life wasn’t perfect, of course, and I fought a lot with my younger brothers – as well as trying to pin some of my misdeeds on them (which worked often, according to their accounts of growing up). But overall I felt very little shame in childhood.

shame part 1

Until, well, it began creeping up. The embarrassment of “liking” a boy who “liked” me back, and the complication of wanting him to know but not wanting to talk to him or even sit next to him in chapel. The sting of being rejected by said boy when a new girl moved to town. Getting really big plastic pink frames in fourth grade, and somehow connecting this fact to the boy’s rejection and the growing self-consciousness I felt. I dreaded having any attention brought to me, and I was terrified of any sort of public presentation in class. I began to wonder if my friends were true friends, or if I had any friends at all, after being socially rejected by most if not all of the girls in my eighth grade class.

I didn’t call it shame back then, and until a few years ago, I wouldn’t have labeled any of this growing self-consciousness, doubt, and fear of rejection as “shame.” Come along with me as I’ve learned how to better make sense of some painful aspects of my story, and how I’ve become free as well.

A few questions for you:

-Do you remember life before shame? What was it like?

-When did shame begin to enter your picture and how did it first show up?

 

The process of writing a book: my story

It all begins small, as most things do. Three years ago I was quoted in an article on body image at the Gospel Coalition’s blog. I submitted a few more articles in the next several months, and a couple more were published. One had a particularly large following – a Father’s Day post. I felt humbled and amazed to have been able to connect with so many people. And encouraged to keep on writing.

I attended The Gospel Coalition Women’s conference in June 2014, praying for a connection with a published author and direction for how to go about writing a book. God opened more doors than I could have imagined, through Collin Hansen inviting me at the last minute to a writers’ gathering where I met real-live-published-authors Hannah Anderson and Jen Pollock Michel. I heard a panel of writers talk about their writing – Gloria Furman, Jen Wilkin, Christina Fox, and Melissa Kruger. I took it all in.

And I also “happened” to meet a member of Crossway Publication’s marketing team, who later introduced me to an acquisitions editor at Crossway who walked me through the process of writing a book proposal in fall 2014. January 2015 brought the best news ever: my book proposal was accepted and I had a book contract for a book on the topic of shame and the gospel. I couldn’t believe it!

writing-a-bookFor the next six months, I wrote the book between the demands of life in stolen moments while our daughters were at preschool and early mornings and late evenings. Then began the editing process – which was probably my least favorite. But my editors Dave and Tara certainly softened the process for me and sharpened my writing significantly. I am so grateful for them, and for the entire team at Crossway who have been so kind and helpful and encouraging to this first-time author.

All of these efforts (plus asking for a foreword and endorsements) have coalesced into the advanced reader’s copy that was printed and mailed out in the past month to my fabulous launch team and influencers.

A graphic that describes my emotions throughout this process is this:

stages of writing a book

Unashamed: Healing Our Brokenness and Finding Freedom from Shame is available for pre-order at Amazon, with a June release date. And it will launch with this summer’s TGCW 2016 conference in Indianapolis. Then another stage of fun begins – having the privilege of connecting with readers and other audiences around the message of this book. I hope you’ll be part of this group!