Native Americans tell the story of a gold prospector who hired several warriors as guides to take him across the frontier to reach the west coast to take advantage of the gold boom. In his eagerness to arrive he would leave early and drive his team late into the night to cross the wilderness. One morning he found his team of guides sitting quietly around the fire, completely unprepared for departure.
“It’s time to get moving,” he said.
“We can’t,” the team responded, almost as one.
“We are losing time”, the prospector said aggressively, expecting them to hop up and get moving. He was not expecting the response that came next.
“We have been moving so fast that we have left our spirits behind, and we are going to wait here until they catch up,”
We have been moving fast ever since Genesis 3. If we are not moving fast in our pace, then our mind is running fast. If our mind is not running fast, our emotions are quickly building barriers. You see we are trapped in a cycle that began standing at the foot of the tree of death and continues to this day. We are stuck in the cycle until we turn to The Answer.
Shame, you see is the fear of disconnection, according to Brene Brown, researcher, and author of “Daring Greatly”. And yet disconnection is the very thing that came in an immediate flood that day in the Garden.
You would think that the most immediate thing one would do in the face of disconnection would be to run as quickly as possible back into connection. Except for this one insidious effect of the fall, we might do just that. Along with our shame came this new source, this new way of seeing, called the knowledge of Good and Evil.
Shame and hiding are now the instinctive response when we are disconnected from the Spirit of Life. Don’t let anyone, especially myself, see me weak. Don’t let anyone see my flaws. Don’t let anyone see. This powerful autonomic response is the exact opposite of running back into connection.
Then it gets specific. If father is the source of pain, then no father figure will have access again. If intimacy is the thing that brings fear, intimacy is the thing that triggers all my defenses. If taking risks has been costly, we sit paralyzed in our soul-manufactured faux-safety zone. The very thing we hunger for the most, becomes the very thing we run from.
If I am weak, I don’t want to feel weak. If I am lonely, I don’t want to feel lonely. If I am angry I don’t want to feel angry. We find ways to not feel in the area we most need to be exposed. Shame does that. Clothed in it’s grip, we push away exposure, and in so doing we push away access to the very thing we need the most.
We push away God Himself as our protector and strong tower, or our favorite human as our most vital earthly connection. Our most visceral response to disconnection, shuts the door on any possibility of reconnecting. We must learn to do the counterintuitive.
Jesus said in John 3, “He who does the truth, comes to the light…” This is not Jesus admonishment to try harder and to do better. This is His encouragement to stop and wait for your spirit, His Spirit to catch up. This is Jesus telling you to return again to the Source of all aliveness. Your mind is racing, your defenses are screaming, your fear is mounting. Maybe you are moving so fast you have left your spirit behind. Do the counterintuitive.
Step into the light. Be exposed. Hide no more. It is your only chance to reconnect. Then sit and wait for His Spirit to catch up.