Perhaps you are thinking, “Why another blog John?” What could possibly compel you to recreate something that you have had in place for a while now? What’s the purpose of this and why should I even bother to check it out?
Each of these questions are worthy of an answer and I will do my best to give you the reader’s digest version of it. Packaged in a single sentence, the answer is simple……
“I am tired of being held captive by shame and refuse to be bound by it any longer”
I’ve fought many battles in my lifetime. The amount of challenges that I’ve faced in my life is almost unbelievable. I’d sit and share each of them with you one by one. However, I’m not about to put you through that kind of torture. What I will tell you is that I have, miraculously, emerged from each challenge stronger, more aware, and more inclined to experience life to the fullest.
However, there has been this battle with shame…….
It’s been a continual battle, and it’s been a beast to fight off. Just when I think I’ve conquered it, it resurfaces from the grave. At times, I feel like I’m battling an army of zombies that have come back from the dead. But the reality is that it’s a one-beast army, and this army doesn’t die off so easily.
I’ve battled with shame since I was a little child. Somehow my mind created a story that I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t smart enough, and I was unwanted. Perhaps it was not being able to meet up to my father’s standards of performance on our family farm. Maybe it’s because I was hurt and abused by a number of adults that my family considered to be friends. Maybe it stemmed from being awkward and nonathletic. Whatever the root was, I wasn’t comfortable being me. Many times, I looked in the mirror and instantly became unhappy with what I saw. Why couldn’t I be someone else? Why couldn’t I have a more normal life? Why did I have to experience so much pain…. I’ve had so many questions and unfortunately very few of them have been answered.
I thought that I would grow out of this feeling of shame. However, shame, if not addressed, tends to have a snowball effect. It grows and grows until there is an avalanche.
Shame is an enemy that you can’t ignore.
In 2010, I made a move from Las Cruces, NM to Phoenix, AZ. The move was a bittersweet one. At the time, I was an associate pastor of a church. I had just graduated with my bachelor degree at New Mexico State University and was looking forward to graduate school. I absolutely loved the congregation that I was a part of. However, I managed to ruffle some bureaucratic feathers during my pursuit of education and instead of giving in to an unrealistic expectation, I elected to resign. The situation left me feeling hurt, betrayed, and confused. Instead of praying about it, I chose to walk away from the situation and pursue a career in the corporate world instead. For a moment, all was well, but after a while, shame began to knock on the door of my heart again.
My ministry debacle attached itself to my growing list of personal disappointments and things that I didn’t like about myself. My inability to fix things at home, the way that people constantly questioned my masculinity, my inability to provide for my family the way that I wanted to, my failure to navigate being a step-parent during teen years, my inability for my wife and I to conceive our own children… I could go on and on for days with never putting a dent in the list that that lay before me.
I wish I could tell you that my transition to working in the corporate world was all I dreamed it to be. Unfortunately, I had my share of setbacks there too. I earned an MBA hoping to transition into a career in human resources. However, that never actualized. I then studied life coaching with the hope of becoming an entrepreneur. That never happened either. Once again shame sat in and regret came along with it.
My coping skills were a joke. I became a recluse and developed bad habits. I became self-destructive, spiteful, and miserable. I wasn’t the kind of person that you would want to be around. It’s only by the grace of God that my wife has remained by my side through this mess. Tired of going through the same cycle, time after time, I recruited the help of counselor. I also entrusted a few close friends to walk with me through this process. Finally, after years of struggling, I became determined to work through my baggage and develop the strength that I needed to become the man that I was created to be and desire to be.
This past year, my friend, Derek Drake, who is a vocalist and musician, posted a clip of one of his original songs on Instagram. Within seconds of clicking play, I knew that it was nothing less than a divine appointment. There’s a line in the song that says, “I hide from your face, like my sin stops your love.” That simple melodic line reminded me of a simple gospel truth that I had somehow lost grip of……
Truth Nugget: No amount of shame, or feeling of inadequacy, can keep God’s love away from me. His love will always come through.
Powerful! Right? However, it was the song’s chorus that showed me what do with my shame……
Get rid of the shame
That’s not your name anymore
Free of the pain
My plan was always to restore
So here it goes, I’m tired of pretending of being someone that I’m not. In the past, I’ve hidden myself behind titles such as “A Thriving Mindset” and “Unleashed Lion,” to hide my “real-self” from others. In my mind, I thought that hiding behind a brand or slogan would take away from the pain found in being John Garay. For some reason, I felt like I was protecting others too. I thought that a brand would keep people from seeing a man who was ashamed, broken, and tired of running from God. Instead, it added to the baggage and weight that I was carrying in my heart. So, from now on, I am choosing to embrace who I am, I am undeniably flawed. I’m far from perfect and at times down-right hideous. Yet, I am completely loved by my creator. I am loved by the one who gave his life for me. I am loved by Jesus….. and I’m choosing to build my identity on who and what He says I am, instead of who and what my thoughts tell me I am.
I am loved. I am forgiven. I am redeemed. My life has meaning. My life has purpose. I am not a mistake. I am not my past. My best days are yet to come. God is not finished with me. He has my heart and I belong to him.
From this point on get ready to hear from a sinner, saved by grace, whose heart’s desire is to share stories of hope, healing, and encouragement to everyone that he encounters.
John Eli Garay
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