If drawing from biblical narrative is not your cup of tea when it comes to dealing with concepts like shame and separation… perhaps I can draw from a contemporary phrase that will help to drive the point home.
“Keeping up with the Jones'” is the idea that, say… you live next store to the Jones family. And on one particularly delightful Saturday afternoon, while packing up your minivan for the upcoming camping trip in tents with your household, you notice that Daddy Jones pulls into his driveway with a new RV. What was just a few minutes before, the dream of a simple family outing in the rustic woods, now feels cheapened by the 50 foot townhouse with air conditioning on wheels that your neighbors will be lounging in.
I mean less face it, beyond his being bigger than yours, you are now all of the sudden feeling poor. You are now feeling as if you cannot provide a lifestyle for your family that those around you can.
All of the sudden your tenting expedition seems more like a burden that you are bringing to your family than a weekend of golden memories.
Or what about when you pull out your cell phone, that just a year ago was the top of the line… but now shadows in comparison to your coworkers newest top of the line.
There are countless examples that could be drawn from that every day life deals us in the area of comparing ourselves to others. For many, the feeling of shame that comparing our life to our neighbors is something that often times leads to depression.
It can especially be felt in families where husbands or wives have to deal with the pressures of raising children, and the conversations that come home from school when the stories are that so-in-so got this… for Christmas…
It is in those moments when many individuals attempt to fill in the feelings of shame by overcompensating with ‘stuff’ that they do not need, and cannot afford. But as we discussed earlier, it is an easy and temporary fix to just go out and buy more junk that just ends up breaking, taking space in the home, or needs constant maintenance and upgrades.
All the while, very few conversations are had about the real nature of the discontentment… the shame that is felt in very real, very deep places. No… we just buy more junk.
Truth is… we know… that deep down, the stories that will last a life time are the ones where everyone did have to cram into that tent. And then it started to rain. Or how about those moments when you get up early to get some flames rolling in the fire pit just outside that protective canvas that you all set up together (hopefully with minimal fighting)… and you get to watch as your little ones unzip the door, with sleep still in their eyes, and then climb up into your lap to wake up the rest of the way.
Deep down, you know that this simple setting: the woods, a tent, a fire, and holding someone you love is all you really need.
Can you find a place in your heart to live life from that place… where the bare necessities are all the functional things that you need, so you can brave the real landscape of what matters?
Your relationship with your self.
Your relationship with other people.
Your relationship with the world around you.