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I'm not _______ enough.

I've watched this week turn into a roaring hell for many people other than myself. It seems like no matter what the source of the pain is, whether grossly self-inflicted as myself or from a place beyond what our own hands can stop, several of us have come to an ultimate "What now?"

Beyond any books I've read or education I've attempted to internalize, I'm really just an ordinary boy with dreams  and lots of really, really rough edges. My thoughts aren't from a place of perfection or mastery but a place that's far from any of that. Take this and anything else of what I have to say with a grain of salt because I'm no Nobel peace prize winner or have a doctorate in research. So, what now?

For the self-inflicted
As I've struggled to stay afloat from jumping in and nearly drowning in my own mistakes (and let's make that clear, I'm and idiot, not a victim), I've noticed that the pool that I've jumped into is the pool of shame.

I believe that shame--the fear of not being worthy of loving connection--is at the heart of all sin and where Satan and all darkness lives. It plays the tape of "I'm not ______ enough." in our heads that leads us to anger, sadness, greed, lust, and probably the worst of all, dishonesty. When we listen to shame, we try to prove it wrong even though there is nothing to be proven.

When we try to prove our worth to shame, we lash out in anger or rebellion at someone to prove we are powerful enough; we greedily overcompensate, in even good things, to prove that we are worth enough; we indulge in immoral behavior to prove that we are appealing enough; and we dishonestly manipulate, control, predict, and perfect to prove that we are good enough.

If you're here with me now, hurting from the exhaustion and loss from doing these things--take my hand.

No matter what you've done and where you are now, you are not a problem. You are not defined by situations. And you are not at the end. Your worth is unchanging, eternal, and holds more beauty than you can comprehend. There are no words that can undo the past or take away pain or loss. I'm not going to pretend that any words I have can have such magical effects.

Know that running from vulnerability and giving into the lies of shame means believing in promises that won't ever be fulfilled. Compromising your character to try to prove in harmful ways that you are enough to someone, so that you can somehow then be worthy of their love and connection, will only do the opposite.

It is horrifying to have courage to let yourself be vulnerably seen and do what is right. Yet if we do and believe that we are enough, it is inevitable that we will eventually find connection, love, and acceptance. I know that that is true.

For the innocent and betrayed
My heart goes out to you. I wish that you didn't have to feel pain that you don't deserve.

All experiences are different, and I can't equate mine or say that I know exactly what you're going through, but I can say that we can realize that there is always healing hope when we choose to be grateful and love. There is no reason to cut open emotional wounds to bleed any more than they already are yet I also don't want to minimize the seriousness or complexity of any situation or say that you shouldn't be sad or upset for things or those who have harmed you. My thoughts are only to say that in these times of excruciating pain, we can treat and heal these wounds by choosing love and gratitude daily. These things are sure.

I wish that we didn't have to go through sorrow to learn sometimes but the truth is that no matter how unfair the situation, the lessons that we can learn from experiencing such low moments are extremely beautiful and of immense and eternal worth. I would much rather live in a world where I was prone to pain and loss than be in a place without the color and excitement the love and joy bring.

So please smile, because heaven knows that the world can always use on more smiling face. The life of every single person is precious to God. Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.

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