Dare to be Different

This weekend I went to the farmer's market with a dear friend.  Afterward, we stopped to chat over a cup of fall-inspired coffee.  Think vanilla-cinnamon and salted caramel.{sigh}  Among the various topics of conversation, we happened upon the subject of feeling judged by others for various reasons.  For me, feeling judged and being ashamed walk hand in hand.

What I didn't think to share in our conversation yesterday is that God has been at work in my heart over that very thing.  Interestingly, I was reading the book, 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart by Liz Curtis Higgs and the verse for chapter 3 is Proverbs 29:25.  Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.  Then, not too long after that, the scripture of the day on my bible app was the same verse.  For me, this amounts to God taking my face in His hands, looking me straight in the eye and asking me to focus on the heart work He is trying to do in me.

Then, my husband forwarded an article he came across on desiringGod.org.  Jon Bloom writes:

Her life was a wreck. After five failed marriages she stopped with the formalities. She came to the well when the sun blazed so she could draw water alone and hide from the comments, the whispers, and the condemning looks (John 4).

He was a powerful man who abused his power to sleep with another man’s wife. But he got her pregnant. And out of fear of exposing his wickedness he tried to hide behind a cover-up that turned murderous (2 Samuel 11).

She had suffered from a vaginal hemorrhage twelve years. All that time: unclean, uncomfortable, and uncomforted. She saw Jesus heal others and longed to receive his touch. But how could she ask him in front of the whole crowd? So she sought to hide in anonymity by just touching the fringe of his robe. (Luke 8:43-48)

The woman at the well, King David, and the bleeding woman all sought to hide their struggles and the shame that accompanied them.  I do that too, mostly out of fear of what others will think of me.  Ashamed to send my 5 year old out the door knowing he doesn't know how to tie his shoes yet.  Buying a new outfit to wear to a play date with other moms and kids, hoping it will disguise the extra weight I'm carrying.  Not inviting a friend over on the spur of the moment because my house is messy.  Listening to a young woman pour her heart out about her struggle with anxiety and being so ashamed of my own anxieties that I nod in agreement and yet don't share my experiences.

I'm hoping I'm not alone in some of those.  Am I the only one who has allowed shame to make me hide?  Am I the only one who feels trapped in the shame?  
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. (Proverbs 29:25, emphasis mine)
I am claiming victory today.  Through Jesus' strength and work in me, I can be victorious.  I am not going to hide, and in fact, shouldn't.  I want God to use my weaknesses and failures for the good of others and for His glory.  The last portion of Proverbs 29:25 tells me that I am kept safe if I trust in the Lord.  Trust Him with my shame.  Trust Him to use it for His glory and for the good of others.  Trust Him to keep me safe.  I don't know about you, but there is no other who can make the promise to keep me safe and keep it.
So what does that look like for me in everyday life?  It means daring to be different.  I will drop the kids off in a ponytail and sweatpants some days and I may not even be wearing shoes.  I will be vulnerable enough to share my story with a woman who needs the encouragement it may give.  I will open the door of my messy house to entertain a friend who just needs a listening ear.  I will share my struggle with anxiety.  I will be vulnerable to admit that my life is not perfect and my marriage isn't all hearts and flowers.  I will share to encourage others and I will dare, because Christ will keep me safe.