I read The Shack back several years ago, actually as required reading. :) It was one of the first novels I actually took notes in. Then, in the summer of 2009 I was invited to a Book Club where they were going to be discussing that book. Since I had read it, I went.
Now, before I get too far into this post, this isn't going to be about The Shack. (Well, not the book, maybe the image it represents.) It's going to be about William P. Young, LifeTree Café, and who knows what else. We'll see.
So, back to the café. Our local one is sponsored by Dallas Bay Baptist Church (DBBC) and is located at their Northgate Campus, right behind Chuck E. Cheese and near the library. It's the old Service Merchandise building for any readers who've lived in the area a while. Then it was a furniture store, etc. (I got to go check out a jewelry robbery one night when it was still Service Merchandise! It's a long story, but the robber had left part of his finger as evidence, if I remember correctly.)
The café has a great atmosphere to it, very "comfy". Cool lighting above up front (should have gotten a picture) with wavy fixture and lightbulbs. Round tables that seat four to facilitate conversation.
Per their website, the LifeTree café is a "conversation café". It's a place to explore life, talk with friends, and hear from God. One of their slogans is: "Doing Life. Doing God." As I mentioned, our local café is sponsored by DBBC. A quick search showed me some LifeTree cafés sponsored by these churches: Lutheran, Presbyterian, Assembly of God, Methodist, and probably others.
One of the signs on the wall that caught my attention was this one: "You're welcome just as you are. Your thoughts are welcome. Your doubts are welcome. We're all in this together. God is here, ready to connect with you in a fresh way." That's a breath of fresh air for some folks who don't have places to share their thoughts and doubts, or don't really feel that they are welcome as they are. I think folks are finally coming around to the fact that doubts are okay and are a necessary part of life. Anyway, the café offers that hospitality. Not only is it a saying on the wall, you can tell by being there that it is true.
So, I've got my nametag, my cup of java, we have a full table of four, I'm ready to connect with God in a fresh way. Roll film.
Before the interview starts, there is a video clip of a beautiful house on the outside with a host talking about all the improvements he has done and is doing. The camera person keeps asking to see the inside. The host keeps putting him off. Finally, he opens the house's doors and allows him in. The inside is much different from the outside. It is cluttered, messy, hard to get around and literally, the host kept falling over all the stuff. It hindered his every move in one room. Finally, after showing a few other rooms, he said that the inside is all messy and that no one can be on the inside any longer, they can only see the outside because that is pleasant to look at and is neat and tidy.
That clip in itself gives one lots to think about, to chew on, to peruse, to allow to flow throughout the heart, mind, and soul.
William Paul Young.
What he shared was powerful. He gave his background, the background of The Shack, and talked about how the shack represents the house of the soul. The hurt, pain, and damage in his life to his heart, mind, and soul began at an early age and it continued to stockpile throughout his life as he learned survival techniques.
Some quotes that caught my attention:
"If God is to heal us, he has to take things away from us-- but he won't yank them out of our hands. We have to participate in the process."
"Suffering does not have to be shame-based at all."
He talked quite a bit about shame. Because shame is what caused him and causes us to keep our "shacks" closed off from others. We are ashamed of the things that have happened to us as well as the things we've done. We come to believe that no one, not even God could love us through that crap.
Young talks about how powerful shame is and how it distorts our views. He said this: "Shame destroys your ability to distinguish between a value statement and an observation." He gave an example of his wife telling him to sort out the laundry, the colors from the whites. That's what she said. What he heard was a string of condemnations about his lack of abilities, attacking his character, etc. Shame controlled his filters and continued to cause more damage, even when none was intended.
Young said that most of our hurt comes from relationships, but that healing also comes from relationships: "Hurt comes through our relationships, and I believe our healing comes through relationships as well. That includes our relationship with God and with the people in our lives."
He reminded the listeners that each person has worth, that their life has meaning, and that they are loved. He said that God will come into the shack to love and heal, if we allow.
It took a crossroads encounter in his life for him to face all the secrets, all the shame. But he did it. He said: "When the façade is gone, all you have is the shack. The stuff you hate." That's where it gets hard. Dealing with that stuff. But, we don't have to deal with it alone.
Young talked about letting people "in" the "shack" helped the healing process.
He mentioned that "seeds grow good in this kind of stuff". :) Meaning that there was quite a bit of fertilizer (so to speak), so seeds of hope and healing and life were able to be planted and grow.
Cleaning from the inside out. Through relationships. With God and others. Pretty cool stuff.
One of Young's quotes that he says over and over: "There's nothing so dead that God can't grow something in it. There's not anything so broken that God can't heal it, and there's not anything so lost that God can't find it."
Is there a "NO TRESPASS" sign on your shack (your soul) for God and/or others? Or have you let God and others in for cleaning and healing?
Young said: "Shame is what causes you to hide." Hmm.... reminds me of a couple that hid in a garden once, a long time ago. Young said that love will pursue us because that is what love does. Hmm.... that also reminds me of that couple. Hidden in shame, God pursued them out of love and desire for relationship.
God still does that today. God still pursues out of love. God desires our shacks (souls) to be cleansed from within, not covered up on the outside.
Three more quotes from Young:
"God does nothing that's not motivated by love."
"God respects his creations--us--way more than we do."
"To love, you must have the ability to choose."
Thankfully, God does give us the ability to choose.
Well, those are my notes and thoughts from last night's video interview with the author of The Shack. It gave me much to think about. At one point Young said about himself: "No secrets." I thought, 'integrity!'
We can all relate to façades, shame, secrets, hurt, etc. Those façades don't really protect us, they just keep us from beginning to heal. Learning to live without masks isn't easy, but it is possible. Allowing God and others into our "shack" isn't easy, but it is possible. And, you know what?!?! God loves us through into healing!! And, when God sends folks to help out, we can trust God's judgment.
May seeds of love, joy, and healing grow from whatever crap is in your shack.
May you allow God and others to be with you through the cleansing process.
There is freedom when the bonds of shame are broken.
This isn't an easy part of the journey. It's painful. But it's a type of pain that leads to healing. It's worth it. I've had a lot of the crap cleaned out of my shack over the years. God and others are still working to help it get clean and stay clean.
May there be healing in your soul this day on your journey,