Healing from shame is an astonishing journey with Christ. It is an opportunity to experience depths of our selves, and of intimacy, that we never imagined possible.
And yet, inasmuch as healing from shame is a journey, we should have no illusions about how long this process can actually take. For most people, it will mean years of learning and re-learning the rhythms of accessing and releasing emotion, of discovering and embracing exiled parts of ourselves perhaps for the first time. It will also mean opening ourselves up to dimensions of spiritual discernment that we may never have considered before.
A process this lengthy and involved will inevitably give way to tensions within us. There will be days of inner anguish, and days that feel more inwardly spacious and free. We will move a few steps forward on the path, and then we will feel the need to remain still. We will do our part to position ourselves before the Lord, yet we cannot speed up the process. We can ask for healing, yet we cannot heal ourselves.
We will gradually begin to taste freedom, to see glimpses of what is possible. We will become more acquainted with the glory of who we were intended to be. And in the same moment we remain acutely aware that we have not arrived.
As I was exploring this tension in my own life, the image of a fledgling bird came to mind. At the beginning of its life, a fledgling is alive within an egg, yet it is confined to the heaviness of the shell. The bird is emergent and moving, on the cusp of something beautiful it has not yet experienced; and yet it is not fully born, not fully able to live into its created splendor. No matter how much it struggles to poke its beak around in the dark, it cannot release itself from its holding place. It must wait until the appointed time in order to experience itself fully.
I wonder if our own journey through shame is not unlike that of the fledgling bird. In the midst of my own yearning for wholeness – to be fully formed into an integrated and glorious self – I expressed this image in a slightly adapted version of a triolet, which is a French medieval poetic form: