The book began with the telling of how the Iraqi national soccer team was once severely punished by Uday Hussein (son of Saddam Hussein) when a game was lost. The fun of a game had been replaced by the fear of punishment.
The author, Alan Wright, related the ordeal of the soccer team to our motivations for the choices we make in our lives. He discussed the internal pressures that we feel either due to the influences of others or our our inward drives.
Wright stresses the fact that "there is a way to live apart from the pressure to perform."
- I am desperately seeking how to be rid of the drive to perform due to the preconceived pressure to live up to the expectations of others.
In the section titled "Life Motivators", the author points out that "All people who try hard at life do so for one of two reasons---they're fearful and looking for acceptance or they're fulfilled and looking to make a difference. These opposing life motivators are matters of the heart and can be well hidden from public views."
- Such a simple view but profoundly true!
- For as long as I can remember, I have been motivated by one fear or another. Thankfully, I am at the initial stages of discovering true fulfillment.
Wright posed some questions to himself that resonated within my heart. The questions I could mostly relate to were:
- Why am I so sensitive to anything resembling criticism?
- Why do I need everyone to like me?
- Why can't I fail without feeling like a failure?
- Why do I have such vague boundaries in my life?
- Why can't I care for others without having to take on the weight of the world?
- Why doesn't it ever occur to me that maybe God has given me some important gifts and I do have something special to offer?
- Is there something in me that shies away from ultimate success?
He proposes that the underlying answer to those questions is shame---"a feeling of being inwardly flawed ---of not measuring up."
Wright discusses the problems he's encountered through out his life because of shame (being overly sensitive, being motivated by self-fulfillment, dishonesty in relationships, criticism of others, continued sense of fear and dread, imbalances in personal and professional life, co-dependency issues, self-hatred, tendencies towards addictive behavior, feeling like a "phony").
I have placed so much of my identity and self-worth on the opinions and actions of others. Being a 'people-pleaser' that was motivated by fear due to an overwhelming sense of shame has personally caused much heartache and pain. Never feeling as I could measure up caused emotional chaos, anxiety and a depression that settled into the depths of my soul.
I am beginning to understand and appreciate the concepts of grace and am eagerly awaiting the day that I can quote Wright's words on my own behalf: "Shame has been overthrown and Grace has become the main motivator in my life."
I have always felt distanced and different from others but am now realizing that those perceived differences were because for the longest time, I didn't open up to anyone, including God. Wright "...promises because God promises that the truth will set you free". He explained that his hopes for this book is to allow "...fresh explanations of the truth to correct our thinking" and to offer "...stories to touch our hearts and heal our wounds".
How my parched soul longs for this sharing of water. I have to accept that my wounds are not too deep to be understood or healed. I also must not minimize my shame because the avoidance of such will negate any sort of healing.
The chapter ends with ABC's:
Ask what motivates my efforts?
Believe: I do not need fear to motivate me for God has not given a spirit that makes me a "slave again to fear [for I have] received the Spirit of sonship." (Romans 8:15)
Choose today to uncover shame's influence in my life and commit myself to overthrow its silent tyranny in my soul.