When What You Believe Isn’t the Same as What You Value

by | Nov 8, 2017 | Identity

From my warm spot in bed, I read emails and messages that came in through the night, roll over, set the phone down on the nightstand and push up to a sitting position. “Well, my writing career may be over,” I tell H.

Hearing those words come out of my mouth brings heat to my cheeks instantly. I tend to talk in absolutes when I’m under stress or simply assess that I haven’t met the mark somehow.

I never.

They always.

It’s over.

After processing the melodrama playing out in my head with H, I walk downstairs into the kitchen and fume silently as I slide pieces of clean cutlery from the dishwasher into the drawer. When my emotional verbal processing intersects with his rational thinking, tension exists between us. I’ve learned to avoid becoming a word slaying ninja by listening first and then processing truth alongside my reality at the sink with plates and forks.

He is late to work. And I have little time to prepare for an engagement: a live radio show interview about Rhythms of Rest. Because my writing career is clearly over.

On the way to the studio, I stand at the crosswalk, glance at my watch and watch people rebel against the red symbol lit up on the pole telling us to wait for traffic. Better safe than sorry I think while judging hurry and hustle cross the road.

And as that phrase interrupts my thoughts, I realize safety has become a belief system that I don’t actually value.

Because the times I’ve been most sorry in my life are the times I chose safety over risk.

Choose safety as your mantra and miss the adventure of following Jesus. Because Jesus isn’t safe, he’s beautifully dangerous.

After the radio interview, on the way home, I stand among masses in the silent tomb of the underground, listening for the rumble of a train’s arrival.  Instead, I hear the wail of a child and a mother’s voice echo and bounce off the concrete walls of humanity, changing blank stares to furrowed eyebrows.

“I told you to go to the bathroom before you left! Why didn’t you listen to me? You stupid, you never, you always . . .” were the only perceptible words I discerned outside of expletives.

The audacity. The boldness. The unscrupulous act of beating up an innocent child with accusatory adult language. Through a mass of legs and brief cases, I identify the person belonging to the voice in the crowd.

She bends over tiny white legs and bare feet leaning against a stroller. Her tattered winter coat provides a partial shield for the child’s nakedness. A body exposed to cold stares, sideways glances and the strike of saturated trousers slung like a bat on weak flesh.

A person’s mistakes are not our inconvenience but an opportunity to practice grace, forgiveness and love. Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone. (John 8:1-11)

Am I throwing mental stones at a stranger?

Inside my head, I am screaming, be dangerous, don’t choose safety. Walk over there, confront condemnation with authority and provide rescue for the innocent.

But instead, I take a seat on the train and crane my neck toward the window as we move forward. And offer a prayer as consolation.

Seated across from me, a woman makes eye contact. She is flushed, fidgeting and wiping away the dark line above her eyelashes. Maybe she is agitated because the accusatory tone resounding on the platform reminded her of something painful.

It only takes a few seconds for the voice of shame to resonate eerily familiar.

The vulnerability of a child in a compromising situation is a mirror being held up for all of us, reflecting how wrong it is to allow shame a stronghold when God has destiny planned for us.

Maybe the voice of shame was the voice you were listening to when you woke up.  The voice of love, it broke through my wrestling like the clarion call of a trumpeter on his way to the battle field. And suddenly, all the events of my day made perfect sense somehow.

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. AW Tozer

Maybe you’re beating yourself up for making a mistake, not planning properly, and inconveniencing someone. Maybe the words you are telling yourself would cause someone to bristle if you said them out loud.

Maybe it’s time to walk from the darkness into the light of God’s favor; wielding words of Truth and believing that freedom is possible. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus – that is an absolute we can all cling to when what we think becomes distorted by circumstances.


Subscribe for Shelly’s stories and free resources here: https://shellymillerwriter.com/free-resources/


  1. Doris

    Thanks for posting this. I was really struggling with something today. Feeling mad at myself for just not handling something right. I like the A W Tozer quote. It made me think on God’s truth about me and what He would have me do in my situation. I feel for the child you wrote about at the underground. I was transported back and could hear my father railing at me for something as small as forgetting to put the butter on the table or some other minor infraction when I had set the table for dinner. ‘ you idiot, you moron, you don’t have the sense you were born with!” No foul language but I got the message that I was defective somehow. I always wondered how I lost the sense I was born with, what did I do wrong? I used to have to take bromo seltzer every night after dinner to keep my food down, I would be so upset. And there is more to it but I will spare you.
    When I get my mind on my Heavenly Father it helps me remember that I am loved and He has begun a good work in me after accepting me as I am/was and that He will finish that good work in me. We who are in Christ are loved and belong to Him forever. Thanks, Shelley, may the Good Father strengthen you in His love.
    Your sister,

    • shelly

      Doris, I’m happy to know that my favorite quote from AW Tozer spoke to you. But I’m sad about the memories that the story conjured up. I imagine that the scenario I witnessed did that for most people within earshot to be honest. We were all probably remembering some painful moments. But perhaps within the memory, we also see God’s grace and love for us. Because here we are, after all. Transformed and doing our best to follow Him. Praying that you are continually reminded of God’s great love. You belong to Him!

  2. Summer Joy

    Oh how I love this Shelly! I was moving through much of this same thought process this week. You did such a beautiful job teasing out the risk, the vulnerability, and the shame. Thanks friend!

    • shelly

      Thank you Summer. Enjoyed your IG video as well. Lovely to be on the pilgrimage with you!

  3. Celeste

    Hi Shelly,
    Quite possibly by the time you have time to read my comment N. and I will be on a plane for India. Heading there to meet a couple we’ve been counseling.
    I too am one for internal dialogue. I feel the child within cringe when confronted with repeated patterns. Fearful thinking seems to follow closely upon the heels. You’re talking about safe. I have lived my life like a coloring page trying to stay within the lines. The India trip was something we expected would eventually happen given the circumstances we’re dealing with. Maybe it’s just another by product of change but the old dialogue rears it’s head just about the same time any changes come my way. I also believe that it is likely due to the spiritual nature of our trip that I am hit at my weakest point.
    I would appreciate prayers for safety and freedom from fear.
    It’s the first time away from Bek since he came to our home.

    • shelly

      Oh Celeste! I’m excited for you. I love how you said it . . . you are living your life like a coloring page, trying to stay within the lines. Well put. But stepping out? It’s going to be life giving. I’m sure of it. Can’t wait to hear about it when you return.

  4. Mary Gemmill

    Shelly, I can’t for a moment agree that your writing career is over.
    I am praying for you for the long awaited breakthrough to come soon,
    that your heart will be encouraged.

    Keep me posted by pm?

    I love the profound truth in A W Tozer’s words too.

    Love you.

    • shelly

      Love you Mary. Your encouragement and prayers are truly a gift. xx

  5. Natalie

    This was beautiful, Shelly. It spoke to me on so many levels–my absolutism when under stress and my husband’s rational thinking, my habit of offering up prayer for parents and children when I see rather than action when I see that same situation play out, the deep need to think about the truth rather than what I feel or what little mistake I’ve made. Thanks for offering truth of what really matters and for your honesty in the process.

    • shelly

      Thanks for being here Natalie. Love walking with you through life, even if an ocean is between us.

  6. Honey Bee

    I loved your “it’s time to walk out of the darkness into the light of God’ favour”.

    Recently in New York City, I walked out of the darkness of the 9/11 Museum across the street into the light of the Oculus, its gleaming white marble and pure soaring bird structure a vivid metaphor. A phoenix rising from the ashes. Beauty, light, purity, strength, joy. Everything made new. Wide open space for freedom.

    What an inspiring thought!

    Thank you.
    Honey Bee

    • shelly

      Thanks for giving us a snapshot of light and dark from your patch of the world Honey Bee. I was right there with you, walking from darkness into the light!

  7. Connie Burkett

    Dear Shelley. Don’t let the enemy get to you. Your writing career has only just begun. God gave you a great gift. What He began He will complete. Just continue to wait and trust Him. I agree it is risky to step out for Jesus, but is the safest place to be, in the center of His will. Look forward to you writings. What kind of Camera do you have? Your pics are clear and beautiful.

    • shelly

      Thanks for your encouragement Connie. I’m grateful. I take photos with an old Canon Rebel XT and my Samsung phone. I need a new camera but thank you for the compliment.

  8. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Shelly, what a beautiful, comforting, powerful post, clear proof that your writing career is not over. You *are* writing. And God continues to open doors. He’ll open the right one He has already designated for you to further the reach of your words. Keep trusting and keep writing in whatever way He puts in your path, such as you have done here.
    I too have been sorry when I’ve tried to stay safe, and the truth of the matter is that we are never safe… not from what the world dishes at us. It’s a false presumption. God really showed that to me once (too long to detail here). But it awakened me to the fact that self-protection is useless and a frustrating way to live. And it cuts us off from the adventures of God, and often, from His will. I love that you have chosen to take whatever adventure He places before you. Thank you for addressing shame, and how it leaves us hopeless. When we “wield words of Truth and believing that freedom is possible,” Jesus sets us free. Having had an abortion and cowering in shame for 18 years (though I had confessed and repented of my sin) imprisoned me. And the thing is that when we finally wield God’s words of truth against the shame Satan slings at us and are set free, then we can wield those words for others who are still caught in the web and mire of shame. Now that I am free, I can wield my words to help other women know that there is love, healing, and forgiveness in Christ. We are always set free to help others experience it too. Our words, empowered by God, are powerful weapons. Judging from comments here today, God used your words powerfully, too, today. You ARE writing! Praying for continued opportunities to do so.

    • shelly

      Thank you Lynn, your words are life giving for all who know you. I’m grateful to have your listening ear, attentive heart, and kind wisdom.

  9. Diana Trautwein

    My absolute favorite piece of yours. Ever. Real. Vulnerable. Palpable. Thank you. It ain’t over, kiddo. Not by a long shot.

    • shelly

      Gosh Diana, thanks for that lovely compliment. I’m honored. It feels good to be writing this way again after a year of marketing a book. Onward ho!

  10. Cathy Bowers

    My Dear Friend, We may be an ocean apart but your writing skills are beautiful and speak for so many of us who don’t have the ability. Your words encourage me and inspire me and give me hope. Your writing today was beautiful.
    I had a rough day…and I am not sure I said the right words but I am going to trust in Him to make it all right.
    Your words in todays blog were meant for me to read tonight and not this morning.
    God is working through you….. You are a blessing to me.
    May God continue to lead you on His path. May your eyes and ears and heart be open to all of His blessings and opportunities.
    Keep listening to Him and following His path. He will never leave you or forsake you.
    You are his beloved daughter.
    I am sending you a big hug from across the pond.
    I hope one day we will meet in person and I can give you a real hug.
    ~ Love and hugs, Cathy

    • shelly

      Thank you for your sweet, encouraging words Cathy. I’m glad my words matter to you as much as your words matter to me. Grateful, grateful!

  11. Martha Barnett

    Shelly, Of course you will not stop writing because it is an absolute, unquestioned gift of the Holy Spirit which has to flow out to others! I laugh and almost shiver when I read you because I see and hear myself so clearly. Thank you for writing, for being vulnerable, honest and willing to share your insights on self.
    Your thinking, processing and lessons on this journey are all so delightful to my soul!

    • shelly

      Martha, I’m truly honored by your generous comment. Thank you! I’m humbled by knowing that what I write is holding up a mirror for you as well. Grateful, grateful.

Pin It on Pinterest