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July 6, 2006 EJOURNAL...

Shame vs the Spirit of Adoption

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This e-journal will conclude the theme of the effects of shame in a person’s life. If you missed the last two e-journals on shame, you can read them HERE .

Most of what is written below was extracted from letters I wrote to a friend after I went on a mission trip to Africa last year. I’ve changed the names of any people I may mention.

At the risk of sounding like an amateur psychologist, I’m going to step even further into the murky waters of sharing my thoughts.

Letter #1:

I’ve been thinking a lot about my trip to Africa, and for the past few days have had a delayed emotional reaction to it. I had already told you that the thing that stood out the most to me was the contrast between WKCL’s (well-know Christian leader’s) place of knowing she is completely loved and accepted by God and the various levels of lack of that “knowing” that I saw in our team (including myself) and in the pastors there in Africa.

The only words I could think of to describe what I was seeing was that WKCL had experienced the “spirit of adoption” and the rest of us knew about it but hadn’t fully experienced it. So we were all, in varying degrees, still dependent on externals such as our “rank” within the team or our tales of ministry and service to God or our accomplishments back home to give us a sense of place.

This is not to say that WKCL doesn’t have obvious human failings or some quirky doctrines. But she seems to know she is absolutely, unconditionally loved by God—and it’s not a head-knowing, it’s a way of life.

We ministered to thousands of people and every one of them was orphaned in some way, either literally or emotionally. They were abandoned, used, mistreated, unloved, and in great need of having it settled in their hearts and minds that they have a heavenly parent who loves them with a love that no one can comprehend, and because of that love they are OK just the way they are and don’t have to be anyone or do anything to be more loved.

But the team was also in great need of that issue being settled in their own lives. So in many ways, the trip was a unique experience of “orphans ministering to orphans,” myself included.

I guess I used to understand love as something that was a response—a response to someone that you felt somehow “in sync” with, or a response to maternal instincts being awakened, or a response to the pain of others that makes you want to help them, or the response you have to others who have helped you when you were in pain, or the responsibility you feel when you have something that you know others need.

But that’s an orphan’s view of love because it’s all dependent on responses to things that are external, so its strength waxes or wanes depending on the level of “in syncness” or nurturing or compassion or gratitude that is evoked by the circumstances and the people around you. It’s not coming out of an internal reservoir of knowing that you yourself are loved and loveable and therefore they are too.

It’s not as black and white as I’m making things sound, because all Christians know some level of God’s love, so we all experience a mixture of orphan and adopted child.

Letter# 2:

The last Sunday we were there, my friend Deborah and I accompanied an American pastor and were his ministry team while he preached in an African church. His message was from I John 2 about the spiritual difference between children, young men, and fathers.

As he talked, I began to think about what it was that enabled children in the faith to become young men/women and then spiritual fathers/mothers to others and I thought about this theme of adoption.

Children in the faith know they have God as their Father. In fact, I John 2: 13 says, “I write to you, dear children, because you have known the Father.”

It hit me that we’ve been trying to become spiritual “young men” and “spiritual fathers” without ever really knowing that we are God’s children—never really knowing the “spirit of adoption.” So what we are like is a bunch of foster kids trying to do great exploits for God and trying to “father” and “mother” others when we’ve never fully experienced God’s fatherhood. We’ve been like foster kids ministering to orphans.

Letter# 3:

In my last letter I wrote of one thread of thought /feeling around this issue of adoption. A second thread has been along the theme of “rules.”

Last month I went to a business seminar where they made us play a game called “Lifeboat.” In the game I was in a group of 5 on a sinking ship with no hope of being rescued and the lifeboat only held two people. The group had to decide who would go in the lifeboat and who would stay on the sinking ship. It was a very intense game, because you were supposed to play it as if you actually were in a real life or death situation. And everybody did.

So what the game boiled down to was each player had three minutes to convince the others in the group why he or she deserved to be in the lifeboat instead of left on the sinking ship. After everyone had finished his or her three minutes of "persuasion," the group voted on who would be saved. (You couldn't vote for yourself.) The two people with the most votes lived. Every one else died.

When the game was over, we each had to spend three minutes explaining to the group why we had voted the way we did. What was interesting to me (and also somewhat terrifying) was that each person seemed to have his or her own "rules" for what constituted a life worthy of being alive. And some of the people's rules worked against anyone surviving.

This got me thinking about the unspoken rules we live our lives by and judge others by.

Then last week I listened to a review of The Survivor Personality, a book about people who survived incredibly horrendous situations. The author interviewed hundreds of people looking for an explanation of why some were completely devastated by what happened to them and why others were able to not only survive, but had the resiliency to get on with their lives once the traumatic events were over.

He interviewed Vietnam vets, people who had been brutally attacked, people who had been tortured, people who had been kidnapped and subjected to atrocities, war crimes victims, and more. His conclusion was that resilient people are guided by internal compasses that didn’t necessarily line up with external “rules.” They were able to “reframe” the horrific situation in ways that better served them and others and saw the rules merely as guidelines.

For example, people with very strong convictions about telling the truth were able to lie in order to save the lives of others and not feel bad about violating their convictions. (Think Corrie Ten Boom hiding Jews during the Nazi occupation of Holland.)

And the resilient people were able to suspend their rules about finding "meaning" in their circumstances (meanings like the fact that it happened to them meant there was something wrong with them, or that God was punishing them, or they were cursed, or they were being attacked by the devil, or that the world was a terrible place, etc.). (Think Corrie Ten Boom again.)

They also were able to suspend their rules about how other people ought to have treated them and forgive and move on with their lives.

In the book, there is a chapter entitled “The Good Child Handicap.” The essence of this chapter is that people who have been raised with programming to be “good” wind up with rules that become limitations and handicaps in later life and that may actually threaten their survival and the survival of those around them.

So I began thinking about “rule-based living” and the fact that at the core of “rule-based living” there is a defining of who you are and your worth as a person and the level of "safety" you feel about life by how well you’ve followed the system of rules you’ve adopted from your upbringing and culture.

In this way of life, the rules become measuring sticks for your personhood and in many ways your identity is defined by rules—not only the rules you keep, but also the rules about the way you keep the rules.

So the rules become a double handicap—you’re limited and handicapped when you keep them and you’re emotionally tormented whether you keep them or not, since the very presence of the rules means you aren’t good enough or loveable enough just as you are.

The rules also are used as measuring sticks for other people and create either a continual judgement of those who have violated our rules ("You're bad because you don't live up to my expectations for you!") or a continual "comparison mentality" that fosters competition with others ("I'm better than you because I follow the rules better than you do!")

Rule-based living is the opposite of the spirit of adoption, because with the spirit of adoption there is no yardstick of measurement of worth or loveableness toward yourself or toward others—those issues are already settled.

Back to shame

You’re probably wondering what all this has to do with the theme of shame. Well, a lot. The essence of what shame does to a person is twofold. It makes you believe: (1) you have to be different than how you are to be loved and accepted (or even tolerated); and (2) your goodness/value/OKness will be defined by how well you conform to a set of external expectations ("the rules").

In other words, you are neither loved nor loveable just as you are. Because of this, shame creates a sense of self-rejection and self-hatred that makes it hard for you to believe how much God loves you and how valuable you are to Him.

Shame undermines our feeling of being loved, taken care of, and safe. Since God is the only one who can truly love us like we need to be loved, take care of us like we truly want to be taken care of, and make us feel like life is a safe place for us to be, the awareness that I am His beloved child is the only real cure for shame.

Next time…What an Educated Person Knows


Always Enough: God's Miraculous Provision Among the Poorest Children on Earth. If you want to know who WKCL is, this is her story.. A must-read for those with a heart for the broken and a passion for Jesus.

Visions Beyond the Veil tells the story of a group of Chinese children—mostly street beggars and orphans—who experienced an immense and incredible outpouring of the Holy Spirit—so great that they literally "experienced Heaven" through visions, were aware of the presence of angels, and were able to describe in great detail what they saw.

There Were Two Trees in the Garden. This is a really interesting book because in it Rick Joyner talks about the two trees in the Garden of Eden: the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" and the Tree of Life in a way I've never thought of before. He explains how we tend to operate out of our own knowledge of what's right and what's wrong--our own set of "rules" about life and people that have nothing to do with a relationship with Jesus, the Tree of Life.

Abba's Child by Brennan Manning. Shame undermines our feeling of being loved, taken care of, and safe. Manning's work takes you back to the heart of God--the only one who can truly love us like we need to be loved, take care of us like we truly want to be taken care of, and make us feel like life is a safe place for us to be.

The Sacred Romance.
Authors Brent Curtis and John Eldredge inspire readers to enter into the greatest romance of all time--one with God.

Healing the Shame That Binds You
by John Bradshaw. This book discusses the effects of toxic shame and how you can overcome them

The Price of Nice by John Bradshaw. This two-tape audio series delves into the enormous price we pay when we deny our real selves. Especially good for Christians, because we are expected to be so "nice," even if we really aren't.

The Hiding Place. Corrie Ten Boom exemplified the love of God. I was fortunate to meet her and sit under her ministry. This is the story of her family's rescue of Jews in Holland during the Holocaust and of the amazing impact that God's love can have on lives.

The Survivor Personality by Al Siebert. A study of how people respond to crises with tips and suggestions for transforming your personality into one that not just "survives," but thrives.

I Corinthians 13 in The Message Bible and in Phillips New Testament. Read this over and over, dwelling on each description of what love is and meditating on how God loves you in that way. Then meditate on how you could love yourself in that way. Finally, meditate on how you could love your children that way.

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Special Telephone Conference on Business Growth Secrets. Thanks to all of you who were part of this teleconference. Over 300 people signed up! If you missed it, you can go here to listen to a replay.

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Home Business Resources

The Pride Financial Network Stock and Options Home Study Program
I keep encouraging you to at least check this program out because of the time critical issue mentioned below and also because I know it works. For a limited time, Chris Verhaegh is offering his home study program at a special price and with a special extended guarantee. Find out more about it HERE>>

If you've ever thought about learning to invest in the stock market, do it now. Find out why this is TIME CRITICAL HERE>> Chris is still monitoring the VIX for an ideal set-up, so make sure you're a part of it.

Rhea's Entrepreneur Days I've known Rhea Perry for over ten years and seen her heart for helping home school families develop an entrepreneurial mindset and start their own family businesses. She also is very concerned that teens are trained to become entrepreneurs. So for the last five or six years she has held "Entrepreneur Days" where she brings together leaders in different businesses and lets them share their secrets.

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Building the Business of Your Dreams (8 CD Set) I've had requests for just the business portion of the From Home School to Home Business Seminar, so have developed a set of the business CDs from that set. It contains 8 CDs and includes sessions on The Entrepreneurial Mind, Multiple Streams of Home Income, Discovering Your Ideal Life and Ideal Business (2 CDs) , Developing a Business Plan (2 CDs), and The Importance of Business Relationships. Plus, there is a very important and insightful interview on Redeeming the Marketplace. Find out about this life-changing set of CDs HERE>>

Special Telephone Conference on Business Growth Secrets. Over 300 people signed up for this special teleconference with Mauricio Martinez lastt week. Mauricio is a home-schooling dad from Colorado who helps people start from scratch and build million dollar businesses. He has assembled a team of experts in every area of business from marketing to incorporating to tax law to accounting.

If you missed the call, you can listen to a special replay by going HERE.

Mauricio has an extra bonus for those who
are interested in starting a business or systematically building a business the increases your earnings to $100,000, $1,000,000 and beyond! He is also offering a free 30 minute one-on-one business consultation. So sign up for his free consulation now.

Home School Resources

Notebooking! Yes! You CAN Be a Binder Queen! Cindy Rushton is the "queen" of education through notebooking and uses notebooking for EVERYTHING! In this resource, she teaches you how to create "notebooks" around each course of study, whether you're working with a toddler or a high-schooler, pouring out all her ideas and tips for helping your children deepen their studies and document learning all along the way. Cindy addresses many of the tough questions that many of us face in a way that will make it easy to for you to apply these ideas TODAY!. Special offer: 30% off! This is the 2005 version that normally sells for $20, but you can get it now for $14.

Books and CDs by the Elijah Company. We have closed down the Elijah company mail-order store, but Home School Marketplace carries many of the products by Chris and Ellyn Davis as well as products we published for others. Here are just a few of our best-sellers.

30% off WIN books

We have the following WIN books available: The Reluctant Writer, Comprehensive Story Writing, Writing Man 1 & 2, and WIN Twin.

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I Saw the Angel in the Marble

With over 4,000 copies sold in just a few months, I Saw the Angel in the Marble is becoming a home schooling best seller!

This book represents the best of 15 years of Elijah Company articles. Find our more HERE>>

Davis Seminar Set (8 CDs)

The Best of Chris and Ellyn Davis, this set contains seminars given by Chris and Ellyn Davis of The Elijah Company at home schooling conventions. The set contains all of the favorites that home schoolers ask for over and over. People have told us this set of CDs changed their lives. Find out more about them HERE>>

Angel in the Marble/Davis Seminars Set
Order a combination of I Saw the Angel in the Marble and the Davis Seminars CDs HERE>>

From Home School to Home Business
(14 CD Set)

If you missed one of our From Home School to Home Business Conferences, you missed a great time.People who have attended tell us that it changed their lives—not only in the area of home schooling, but also in the area of creating their own sources of home income.This set is huge and filled with useful and encouraging information about how to be successful at home schooling and at home business! Find out more about this life-changing set of CDs HERE>>

Building the Business of Your Dreams (8 CD Set)

I've had requests for just the business portion of the From Home School to Home Business Seminar, so have developed a set of the business CDs from that set. It contains 8 CDs and includes sessions on The Entrepreneurial Mind, Multiple Streams of Home Income, Discovering Your Ideal Life and Ideal Business (2 CDs) , Developing a Business Plan (2 CDs), and The Importance of Business Relationships. Plus, there is a very important and insightful interview on Redeeming the Marketplace. Find out more about this life-changing set of CDs HERE>>

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