Hangovers are the absolute worst.
This morning, all I wanted to do was undo last night. It was the worst night in a very long time. I wanted to take two aspirin, drink some coffee and bury myself in the quiet of my blankets, but I knew that wouldn’t help. I didn’t have too many cocktails at a social event or drink too many glasses of wine with dinner. Either of those might have actually been an improvement. Truthfully, last night I completely lost my $#^% over a bag of Skittles and a tie-dye hoodie.
After an arduous afternoon of eye rolls, mumbled sassing, raised voices, and open defiance, I had very little patience or creativity left within me. I was out of consequences, out of redirections, and running on fumes. In a split second, I had reached my limit and every scrap of the unsanctified cloth from which I was cut was on full display. My anger had gotten the better of me. Again.
I just remember sitting on the green velvet sofa and staring into nothing. I couldn’t speak. I could only stare. It was all I could do to hold back the tears, but soon even that was insufficient. Chris came and sat next to me. He had heard the entire thing, but he still sat by me and put his arms around my shoulders as silent tears started to flow. “I hate myself,” I whispered. He sat next to me in silence and love. All I felt was shame. All I wanted was to escape. So I went to bed.
This morning, I woke up in a fog. I felt fragile. I felt ashamed. Heartfelt apologies had been shared and words of forgiveness had been spoken. Why did I still feel this way? I text one of my best friends as I left the house. I wrote, “I could use prayer. I had one of my worst evenings in a long time and I was the worst version of myself. I feel like I have a shame hangover.” I couldn’t find any other words that fit the description.
Author, Emily P. Freeman often talks about the importance of naming things. Once we name something we can deal with it. My fog and fragility had a name: shame hangover. I knew two aspirin, coffee, and quiet would not be sufficient…though it might have helped. Nope, I needed a different remedy. I need
ed Jesus. Full stop.
From the time I was in middle school, I was taught that Jesus meets us right where we are, but he doesn’t leave us there. I can admit this to you: until today, I have only ever had a vague understanding of this concept at best. How does Jesus meet us right where we are? Mike Gaffney, who is on staff with an organization called Young Life, once told me, “When you show up, God always shows up.” (Admittedly, he was speaking to our entire church at a summer camp, but I’ve always remembered it, so I like to think he said it directly to me.) Anyway, this morning after I finished dropping the boys off at school, I decided to show up.
As I sat in my car in the parking lot of the church office where I work, I remembered a friend had told me he always began and ended his day in Psalm 23. I opened my Bible app to that passage. In case you are unfamiliar with this Psalm, this is what it says:
Psalm 23: 1-6, ESV
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
As I read the words, meditated on them, and prayed they would take root in my heart, I sensed God’s presence. Even in the parking lot, God always shows up. I felt the weight of my shame grow lighter.
Later in the morning, I had the opportunity to talk with a friend. She listened without passing judgement, offered words of encouragement, and reassured me of my own humanity. A few more tears slid down my cheeks as I sat in the chair by her desk, but as they fell, so did some of the shame. Somehow, confessing my sins to my friend, bringing my darkness into the light, alleviated the burden. The fog was lifting.
After I left the office, I headed down the road to the salon. I had a hair appointment scheduled for today and if you know anything about hair appointments, you know you don’t mess with them. Though the idea of having my hair done after such a rollercoaster of emotions felt silly and unimportant, it was a quiet spot in my day. As she colored, washed, cut, and styled my hair, I felt a little less hungover. A little less fragile.
Prayerapy – seeking the presence of God.
Therapy – seeking the counsel of wise friends.
Hairapy – planned self-care with unanticipated benefits.
Today, this was my hangover remedy. As I get ready for bed, I have hope that tomorrow I will wake rested knowing I am fully known and loved in spite of the fact that I am deeply flawed.