Those who know me well will know this, but acquaintances who only see me blending in, conforming to expectations, might not see it: I have a strong rebellious streak.
I’ve learned to play by the rules in order to not receive negative critique, to avoid being shamed for my behaviour, for being myself. But there is something in me which longs to stir things up, to challenge the ways people thin, to provoke reaction.
I try not to, I try to have grace enough to keep the peace, but when someone insists on something ridiculous being true for all time, like to be a godly woman one must have long hair, well, it just makes me want to cut my hair even shorter.
I’m not saying that women with long hair can’t be godly, I’ve seen otherwise (for both long and short hair), my point is that hair length has nothing to do with godliness, and I refuse to be shamed over my haircut.
If anything, I feel more secure in my identity as a woman when my hair is short; I feel more confident in being true to myself and my values when I have my locks cropped close to my skull. I find I am more confident being who God made me and following God’s ways when I have short hair.
And in this short-haired rebellion, I’m discovering that I can use my rebellious tendencies to draw me closer to God, to push me into Kingdom acts. I can rebel against the ways of the world and my own sin-nature, flaunting the freedom of life in the Spirit. I can rebel against the life Shame has created for me, rebelling all the way into the freedom of God.
I’ve spent years of my life squashing down who I really am, what I’m really like, silencing my voice; shamed into silence and conformity. Recent years have found me deliberately transgressing the boundaries I had set for myself, or had allowed to be set on my life, relishing in allowing myself to live into my fullness.
But it has been an up-hill battle against shame.
I was shamed for being different, for being strong, for being opinionated and vocal, for being emotional, for relaxing and being myself. I was complicit with Shame in disparaging myself for my body, for being both too much and not enough.
Claiming back that fullness of self requires acting in the face of that shaming. Every time I choose to act true to myself I risk being shamed all over again. But God has been inviting me into this space, God has been emboldening me to rebel against this life-history of Shame.
Not living out of shame means chasing the feeling of expanse, the stretching and growing, to breathe life into dormant parts of myself, not flattening myself to fit, not shrinking down and hiding. It means loosing the chains of my bondage and setting myself free to truly live.
It is slow, and often tentative, work.
Some days I want to scurry away and hide, others I want to yell in the face of Shame, “COME AT ME!”
Slowly I have felt my life filling out, a sense of living embodied and in full-colour, rather than flat and mono-tone.
It’s not a matter of moving away from shame-filled areas, it’s boldly moving back in, claiming them back, rebelling against Shame’s restrictions.
Yes, I still see and feel them; yes, fear often grips me and I question whether acting in my fullness of self is a good idea; but I am growing stronger in my rebellion, and I hear God cheering me on.
If God created me, designed the traits I carry, then God put this rebellious streak in me, cultivated it as I grew, and God can use it for God’s own glory.
In the fight for the Kingdom, for justice and love, we need the rebels, we need the ones who will stand against unjust laws, against shame and insistence on conformity. Our love, like God’s, invites us out of shame, it gives us space to be our true selves, just as God made us to be. Love for ourselves and for others leads us into rebellion against shame, against cookie-cutter humanity, against injustice, and leads us into the upside-down and subversive kingdom of God.
It is in God’s kingdom where the weak are strong, the poor rich, the shamed lavished with love and lifted up in their uniqueness.
Shame has no place when we stand in God’s love, when we so firmly know our identity based in who God made us. I remind myself daily that shame does not have the final say, that I can choose to step beyond Shame’s bondage and into Life. My choice to love myself is in direct rebellion of Shame’s attempts to shut me down, to squash me until I have flattened all the “me” out.
Love does the opposite of Shame: it invites me into fullness, into uniqueness, into relishing the dance of my self in this world.
And my rebellion against Shame invites others out too, shows them that freedom is possible and so very good.
So, come join me in rebellion, and let’s lead the world into fullness of Life, into the One who is Love.
Tweetables for easy sharing