I’m Not OK


We never imagined we’d be kicking off the “I’m Not OK” series” in the middle of a pandemic, but here we are! We find ourselves with more reasons to feel stressed & anxious, and at the same time, there is an opportunity to uncover what really keeps us “stuck”-shame!

From a neurophysiological perspective, shame operates in our brains much like the mechanics of manual transmission car. When the brake is applied without the clutch, the car stalls out, usually in a very jarring fashion. When the clutch of connection or relational engagement is missing in an interaction in which we hear or sense “no”, shame is triggered and we get the message “I am not OK”-I am not seen or wanted. Shame happens to us early and often in our stories, and in big and small ways. It is at work in our lives first through self- condemnation in the privacy of our own minds, but eventually it spills out onto others-usually our closest friends and family.

Peter, the disciple, is familiar with the cycle. He was a bully in the face of the authorities & he lied to disassociate himself from Jesus even as his dear friend and Lord was facing his death. He has seemingly disqualified himself from ever doing anything meaningful with Jesus again. But Jesus comes to find him in his shame, on the beach, where Peter has gone back to his old life of fishing-it’s what he knows and what he’s good at. In John 21 Jesus asks Peter 3 times, “do you love me”? seemingly as a reprimand, but each time Jesus responds “feed my sheep”. Jesus is saying, “I know you messed up, I see your shame, it doesn’t scare me, I have work for you to do.”

The healing of our shame is not just about feeling better, it’s about being better. Jesus re- commissions us to be an artifact of beauty in the world & to make beautiful things with our lives. When we can face the things we find to be most horrible about ourselves in the presence of a loving God and loving people, we begin to get “unstuck”.

When we can be seen and accepted as we truly are, shame’s voice can be quieted and our mental energy is freed up to create new things!

Discussion Questions:
  1. Describe a time where you forget to use the clutch of engagement/relationship in your closest relationships.

  2. What seem to be the “hot button” topics/issues in which you experience strong negative emotions or behaviors? Do you notice how shame plays a roll?

  3. What arena of life do you feel least “competent”? (vocation/job, marriage, parenting, friendship, etc) What does your self-talk about this sound like?

  4. If you could make/create something new, and know that you could not be ashamed, what would you do?

  5. Break into smaller groups if needed to offer prayer.