It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way — Chapter 4

Tan Feet.

I read the title of this chapter, “Tan Feet,” and thought, “I have no idea what this chapter is going to be about.” Of course, the previous chapters elicited a similar response in me. Lysa is creative with her titles, to say the least.

Any thoughts? What does Lysa mean by “tan feet?”

Well…we only get tans from the sun…so we know that’s in the equation.

But why feet?

As I learned most painfully in March, feet that aren’t moving, easily soak up the sun’s rays.

And that is precisely Lysa’s analogy. When we slow down long enough to sit in the sun without shoes, our feet will get a tan. (Please use sunscreen if you’re going to be sitting there for very long! You can take my word on that one).

Hear it from Lysa:

“I had stood long enough in the sun without all the props and pretensions of dressing up an outside that is hurting on the inside. And that’s when it occurred to me that if you get desperate enough, you’ll go all in with living slow for a while. You’ll quiet down all the outside noise so God’s voice can become the loudest voice in your life” (page 56).

What Lysa learned in her shattered season was that she couldn’t quit life completely, but she did need to slow down. She needed to hear God. She needed to focus on her healing. And that meant quitting some things in her life.

Things like TV and social media. She also cut out reading online articles. And read God’s Word instead.

She broke the silence of her home with praise music. 

She cut out a lot of extra activities to focus her time and energy on family and close friends, including projects that would typically have her pouring out herself for others SO THAT she’d have time to be poured into.

And she was super choosy with whom she shared and sought counsel.

In the process of cutting out these kinds of things, she discovered that SLOW becomes necessary in a season of suffering.

Her life was becoming one that didn’t require shoes. She slowed down. Her feet got tan.

And… (you knew it was coming–wink, wink)…

“When you live slow for a season, the Son has access to the parts of you normally covered up by everyday put-ons” (page 57).

I mean, we could end it here, couldn’t we? But Lysa doesn’t. She recognizes there are layers to our suffering that need to be exposed so that healing can happen. That’s what she tackles in the rest of this chapter.

I turn the page of the book and run smack-dab into the very thing I don’t want exposed in me — the fear of what others will think or say.

Turns out Lysa has similar fears. Somehow, that’s a little comforting. So, I read on.

Lysa identifies that while most people are kind and compassionate when we’re in our suffering season, there are those — the few, the loud — who seem to lay punches where we’re the weakest. Lysa points out that for folks who have their theories and draw their conclusions without all the facts, and certainly without compassion, they are people who:

  1. fear dealing with their own covered-up places so much that they will spend their lives attempting to expose others
  2. don’t have tan feet     (page 58)

While, I totally agree…and even find myself smiling a bit…I still don’t know how to deal with the people I anticipate will launch their “attacks” on me when I put myself out there.

Here’s the stunner.

Lysa spent a summer trying to figure out how to deal with hurtful people. And she discovered that what she had to deal with first was herself.

Not the answer I was looking for.

But something in me says, yup — this is it.

So, I keep reading.

In fact, I’m throwing myself into this and joining Lysa…so, WE first have to deal with our fear of what other people think — their opinions, whispers, comments.

Lysa promises that with the help of the Holy Spirit in us, we can learn to control how much we allow this FEAR to have access to our lives.

Yes, please. Show me how!

Lysa’s solution was to do what she feared most — put on a two-piece bathing suit. I mean, that is literally quite exposing. And for this 50 year old, it’s not something I would ever choose to do. Another thing Lysa and I have in common. Only, she did it. This was a step she took in conquering her fear of what others would say. She was betting that by doing this very physical act of exposing herself, she’d gain eyes to see what was happening in the spiritual (page 60).

Maybe I can learn vicariously?

She put on the suit in the safety of her own home and realized, as she turned to look at herself in the mirror, that’s what she needed to do — face herself.

She also recognized that her spirit of fear, as 2 Timothy 2:7 tells us, is not from God. So, she rightly determined that her fear was from the enemy, and he wants us to be paralyzed by our fear.

Yet, what Lysa figured out is that what gives power to her fear is HER. Not the people. Not the enemy. But her.

“I’m the one who decides if their statements have power over me or not. It’s me. And my desperate desire to stay covered up. I don’t want to feel naked in any way…. I don’t want to stand exposed because I don’t know how to do it and not feel unashamed” (page 62).

She goes on to say that the root of this fear is her belief that “to be stripped of all the props and pretensions and accolades and approvals is to be stripped of the best parts of me” (page 62).

Ironic, isn’t it? Because the actual reality is that when we’re closest to God, we can be naked and unashamed. And when we’re standing uncovered before our Father, the best of parts ourselves can come forward, no longer stuffed by fear or shame or pain.

Naked. Unashamed. Unafraid….

That takes us back to the Garden of Eden. Think about how naked and unashamed Adam and Eve were before their choice to disobey God. They were free to be everything God created them to be because they were confident of God’s love for them. No fear. No shame.

“To dwell well in this life between two gardens requires one to make peace with being naked and unashamed. Not necessarily for the world to see. But just me and God” (page 62).

I love what Lysa did next.

To remove the power of words people had spoken over her, that had hurt her, she actually allowed herself to remember them. The statements she’d feared and heard were painful BECAUSE THEY GAVE VOICE TO THOUGHTS SHE ALREADY HAD ABOUT HERSELF.

And when we hear things we already fear is true about ourselves, it’s very hard to discern their validity. So, we need a way. We need a way to face our fears, heal our hurts, and move on from hurtful words.

The only way to do that is to look to God. And as He did with Adam after he ate the fruit, our compassionate, loving Father will ask us, “Who told you that you were naked? Who told you that you are anything less than a most glorious creation of the Almighty God? Who spoke words over you and about you that stripped you bear and broke your heart?” (page 64).

These questions allow us to remember, respond, and ultimately repent through confession (a later chapter will go through this process more).

Remembering for the sake of response and repentance is WAY different than remembering to the point of dwelling and stewing and fearing.

We remember so that whatever was spoken over us, that spoke against the truth, must be called a LIE. That’s our response. Call it what it is.

Then rehearse the truth. Look to God’s Word and speak His truths over yourself — things like (see page 65):

  • you are wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)
  • you are a treasure (1 John 3:1a)
  • you are beautiful (1 Peter 3:3-4)
  • you are fully known by Him and lavishly loved by Him (John 10:14)
  • you are chosen (2 Thessalonians 2:13)
  • you are special (1 Peter 2:9)
  • you are set apart (Psalm 4:3)

It would be a great exercise for you to come up with some of the truths you need to replace your own lies/fears.

A couple of mine included:

  • God is peace
  • God is my protector, my shield, my truth
  • God will give me the words to say (from Joshua 1:9)

We can confess the lies we’ve believed and pick up God’s truth in their place.

And, we can be choosy about what we remember and what we forget — let’s choose to remember God’s truths and forget the lies. And the way to “set our minds and hearts on things above” is by making the intentional choice to remember God’s words, to believe what God says about us is TRUE.

In case you’re thinking “easier said than done,” I know! I live with the negative voice in my head, too, but I’ve also been working hard to replace those lies with God’s Word…and it works.  I’ve been learning that I really do have power over my thoughts.

So maybe I can do this same practice with my fears! I think I should say, I WILL do this same practice with my fear!

Let’s ask God to help us believe what is true about us and about Him (study guide, page 62). Let’s be brave and turn to look at ourselves, fully exposed and ready for God’s love and truth to pour into us.

And we’ll start to feel fear’s grip loosen.

By slowing down and allowing ourselves to be exposed, unashamed, before our God, we’ll discover the truth of His love and acceptance. We’ll be able to face our fears. We’ll discover we can live unashamed…with tan feet.

Pulling off my shoes, Shelley Johnson

Published by Shelley Johnson

Follower of Christ, wife, mother of three, daughter, sister, friend. Seeker of ways to share the love I've found in Jesus with others.

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