“Shame dies when stories are told in safe places.” Ann Voskamp
I remember her, more so I remember her face. She was crumpled down on her knees. Her face flush with small blotches of red scattered across it. Her eyes were filled with water, glistening beautifully, but I knew they held pain. She held a paper in her hand, it was one that revealed that she had been awarded full custody of her daughter. Yet her hands raked through her hair. Through her whimpers her voice became more audible. I heard her say, “I wish my daughter never went into foster care.” She began pouring like a flood the stories of where she had been, and what she had seen. Each story was one that would tear through the human heart. One after another she poured forth her journey, and revealed why her child had to be placed in the system.
It was interesting to me that such a time of rejoicing was shadowed by such grief. She had fought a long road to get her daughter back. Fought a long way to renew her life. Each decision a step closer to this day of victory. Yet it seemed when her sun was there to shine, the clouds of shame hovered over her like a thick blanket. She shared her stories. She shared of her tragedies, shared of her pain. At the end of the release of all that she had been holding in her heart, she was asked one question. I asked her, “Will you allow the shame of the past to taint the joy of the present?” She looked up at me with those burdened eyes, and she said, “I don’t want it to”. The words that followed were potent for her heart. I told her, “You are forgiven for your yesterdays, and you have forgiven the ones who hurt you in the past, it’s time for you to know the freedom of today.” Those words gripped her as she considered the young child playing in the park, that would be permanently back in her care. She picked herself up off the ground along with the paper she had been holding. She said, “it’s time to go tell my daughter she is home.”
For some, recovery is the physical expression of success. For many they would hear that a mother received full custody of her child, and express how proud they are of Acres of Hope for helping guide a family to reunification. Yet it is so much more than just seeing the external changes. We have to remember true transformation is from the inside out. If the inside is still wounded, then it will be only a matter of time before a person returns to dysfunctional ways. The true measure of success is transforming a life from the inside out and watching renewal take place.
At Acres of Hope we see that those who are a lock-box of painful secrets and stories from the things that have happened to them, or they have done in times of desperation, keep people in places of shame. To set them free, we must be willing to hear the difficult stories with compassion, and share truth and light into some of the dark situations they have faced. In doing so you allow room for a person to grow, heal, and transform from having a heart of shame, to living a life of freedom. It’s time to defeat shame.
If you would like to help women and their children to step out of shame, and walk in the light of hope and freedom,
Visit: acresofhopeonline.org or Call: 530-878-8030