I had so many emotions vying for attention that I couldn’t readily identify any of them. But it was as plain as day to the counselor what I was dealing with—or, more accurately, not dealing with. It wasn’t just that I was disheartened by a pervading sense of shame. To paraphrase an old country song, shame done tore out my heart and stomped that sucker flat.
I felt as if I didn’t matter to anyone—God included. Hard as I tried, I just couldn’t measure up. If I wasn’t good enough to a father who was under the influence of alcohol much of my childhood, I certainly couldn’t be good enough to a perfect, all-seeing, all-knowing Heavenly Father.
My answer was to try harder. To pray more. To read the Bible more. To go to church more.
The result was more failure. More anxiety. More shame.
Once I completed my self-portrait in the counselor’s office, he told me he had an idea of what I needed to do. Being a “doer” this was music to my ears. Did he want me to read a book on how to please God? Attend a “Ten Things To Do To Make God Love You” Conference? Memorize a list of Scripture passages that outline God’s expectations of His children?
I must admit I was taken aback by his suggestion. He simply said, “Go away and wallow in God’s grace.”
He explained, “You already know all there is to know about God’s grace. You need to experience it. So go away for at least a week to a place where you can spend time with Him. I don’t want you watching TV. I don’t want you reading the newspaper. I want you to leave all your self-help books and tapes at home. In fact, leave your Bible at home. I just want you to wallow in the Father’s grace.”
The word wallow to me had negative connotations. It immediately brought two things to mind: the phrase, “wallow in self-pity,” and the image of a pig sprawled out in the mud, neither of which I thought would prove particularly helpful. But the dictionary definition of the word wallow is: to spend time experiencing or enjoying something without making any effort to change your situation, feelings, etc.
In other words, wallowing was about being, not doing.
I followed my counselor’s advice. (I told you I'm a doer.) I went away and wallowed. And wallowed. And wallowed some more. Without making an effort to change, I was forever changed. For the first time in my life, I stopped trying to prove that I had worth. I stopped doing and allowed myself to simply be. After a lifetime of trying to find out more about God, I finally found God.
That is the week I discovered a Father who values me, not for what I do, but for who I am. A Father whose love for me is not based on a performance chart. A Father who assured me--and continues to assure me every day--that I matter deeply.