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“So then my therapist and I wrote a book together about my grief and shame…” with Sandi Brown (Mental Health & Wellness Series)

She was a driven, go-getter kind of gal in radio ministry and then grief and shame threatened to tear it all apart.

Sandi Brown shares her journey from those dark days until today, and talks with host Julie Lyles Carr about how she and her therapist ended up collaborating on a book together about her experience.

Interview Links:

Transcription:

Purposely: Your life, God’s purpose. Listen at onpurposely.com..

Julie Lyles Carr: Hey there I’m Julie Lyles Carr of the AllMomDoes podcast where we are in a series on mental health and mental wellness. Let’s jump right into the next episode.

Today on the AllMomDoes podcast I’m excited to introduce you to my new friend, Sandi Brown. She has a really interesting story to share with us today because she had a life that looked like things were going very swimmingly. She had it all together, and then she had to do a little deep dive and decide really how it was to be evaluated, how things were going on.

This is part of our new series on mental health and wellness. And I know that Sandi’s story is going to really intersect a lot of ours. Sandi, thank you so much for being with me. 

Sandi Brown: Thanks, Julie, I look forward to the conversation. 

Julie Lyles Carr: So give us a little bit of history on you, who you are, where you live in the world, the things you love, all those kinds of details.

Sandi Brown: Well, my alarm goes off at four o’clock every morning. 

Julie Lyles Carr: Wait, wait, wait. Okay. I was thinking this, this was going to be a great conversation and wow. Already I’m in the presence of a superhero. Sorry for interrupting. Begin again. You get up at four thirty every morning on purpose intentionally, go ahead. Go ahead.

Sandi Brown: Yeah. Well that’s when you wake up a city like St. Louis on with Christian radio. That’s that’s what I do. So I’ve been in St. Louis radio for over 30 years. I absolutely love it. I was a producer out with Focus on the Family for a time as well. And so, um, I have an amazing job. I get to laugh every day, share encouragement every day.

I’m, uh, my husband and I have been married over 30 years. We have three kids that, um, live close and our amazing couple of grandkids that have red hair, which is boys, which are fun. And so, yeah, that’s, that’s my life. It’s very full, very rich, very good. 

Julie Lyles Carr: Four thirty in the morning. I did that stint for quite a while. It was on the morning show on two different morning shows for a period of time. And of course, motherhood puts you in the 4:30 AM club a lot, but I, I gotta be honest, anybody who’s done it for the long haul, like you, I mean, my hat is off. It’s just, I, uh, you know, there’s that place where the night owl intersects the morning lark and 4:30 in the morning feels like I could stay up until 4:30 in the morning, but getting up at 4:30 in the morning, I dunno, friend.

Well, that is amazing. I love hearing all the places and different, different places in radio that you’ve been because for a lot of us who have a long history and radio it’s just fascinating to continue to intersect each other in certain ways so I love that. 

Now, you know, it sounds like things were going very swimmingly. You’ve had this amazing career. You’ve got the marriage, you’ve got the kiddos, but you went through a period of time, not that long ago, where you took a pause and went, I’m struggling. In a very specific area. What was it that you were struggling with from an emotional health standpoint and, and what lit that up for you that you even understood that you were struggling with it?

Because that self-awareness piece is kind of interesting for us, right? There can be things we struggle with that we don’t even understand our struggles. So what, what was it for you and what was that wake up call? 

Sandi Brown: Well, two pieces. One, I had always felt, even since I was a little girl, my first memory is that, um, something was just broken in me, right.

There was this sadness. There was this feeling of being unloved and unliked by everybody. I never verbalized that, but I felt it. And then I think as an adult, because of all of the blessings, I mean, right? Great job. Ministry. Family. When realizing that, that didn’t make that go away is when it was like, man, there’s something puzzling I don’t understand. 

And I, and so I went into Christian counseling more like waving the white flag. It felt very much like, um, you know, Hey, I’m admitting defeat here. But what I said was, I know God loves me. I really do. And I, I, I, I love him and I have a relationship with him, but I don’t like myself and I had never heard anyone say that.

And then, um, because who wants to admit that you don’t like yourself? And that’s what it was. I felt like, you know, I’ve tried to pray it away. I’ve tried to memorize scripture. I’ve tried to do the right thing. I’d be in ministry. Like I have all the pieces that seemingly should fix this and it’s not. So I need to look outside myself and outside of just my relationship with Christ to say, what’s the missing piece? I know this isn’t God’s best for me that I don’t like myself. I have no idea why I feel this way or what to do about it. So I went into Christian counseling. 

Julie Lyles Carr: What was it specifically that you felt like you didn’t like about yourself? Because, you know, Sandi, we find in today’s world with women, I will hear women say they don’t like this or that about themselves physically. That’s usually one of the first things that I think we even feel a little strangely, more comfortable sharing. Like, oh, I don’t like the way that my waist looks and this, or my hiney looks in my jeans or whatever the thing is that we think we’re struggling with. But I also think it’s interesting that, you know, those things can be true that we struggled to like for ourselves, but there can be things even deeper that I don’t think we’re as good about sharing.

What was it just sort of a global thing for you? Like I just generally don’t like who I am inside or out? Were there certain facets that you were wrestling with? What was it?

Sandi Brown: Yeah, well, I, I certainly could identify with the not liking my appearance piece, right. And if, um, and I think as you said, a lot of us struggle with that, but it was so much deeper than that.

It was this sense that I couldn’t let anybody really get to know me because I would hear people say that they liked me, but I would always in my mind go, “Yeah, but you don’t really know me. Because if you really knew me, you wouldn’t like me either.” Meaning I don’t like me and I know me the best and I knew God loved me, but I had this sneaky suspicion he didn’t really like me either. I mean, he had to love me cause he’s God and he loves everybody, but I just had this deep belief that I was not likable or lovable. Um, and so I was just one of those people who didn’t like me and everybody else didn’t as well. 

I, I, before counseling, I didn’t know how to describe it other than that, then just, I felt broken on the inside and, um, uncapable of being loved. And I knew that, and I was afraid to tell anybody that because then I would push even further away somebody who said they loved me or said they liked me, but if I said that out loud and then that would just really push them away. So I kept it hidden away until it felt like the tipping point. Just, I couldn’t, I had to figure it out. I didn’t want to go on living that way anymore, without just being honest with somebody and saying, can you help me figure this out? I know there has to be a better way to live than this. 

Julie Lyles Carr: That distinction that you make is really powerful when it comes to God’s love for us. And I have to believe a lot of listeners, this is going to resonate with them because – it is that place of feeling like, well, these people, and God, well they have to love me because they’re family and he’s God, our heavenly father. He has to love everybody. But this idea of, but do they like who I am is so – it’s such a fascinating little lane of that. And it is a perspective that sometimes I don’t even know that we’re distinguishing in our own hearts and minds, but is something that really feeds a lot into how we are feeling about ourselves. 

As you started this process of going through Christian counseling, I would wonder – and I want to hear from you if this is true – I think one of the symptoms I have when I realize that I’m struggling with my own likability and my own lovability is my people pleasing, Sandi, will go into full bloom. I’m talking like abolute diesel gasoline hauling down the freeway, trying to make everybody happy, doing all the things, over committing, you know, dad gum it, I’m going to make sure that you just absolutely adore me, even if I’m not likable and lovable. Was that something that you found in your own journey was an overperformance or a people pleasing or did it come out in other ways for you as you began to unpack it in your Christian counseling experience?

Sandi Brown: Exactly. No, exactly what you described. I wanted to be the hardest working person in the building. I wanted to get every measure of success that I could. I didn’t know I was trying to overcompensate, but I clearly was. And, and my counselor even said that she sees a lot of people in ministry who that’s their right, they, I just gotta, I gotta love God more. I got to bring more people to Jesus, like I got to, and then, then I’ll feel good about myself. And then I’ll, I’ll, I’ll achieve some level of, I can, I can rest and it’s an exhausting way to live. Right. And, and all the while you’re not telling anybody, because it just sounds so horrible and I’d never heard anyone else say it like, um, and so it is exhausting.

And I do think it’s very, very common in Christian ministry and in the church, especially where you can talk about any mental health illness at all. Or any emotional struggles at all. And that’s taboo, let alone say, you know, I, I love God and I know God loves me, but I don’t like myself. Like, well, then just stop, pray that away. You know, that’s not true. So think, you know, if it’s not true, then don’t think about it. 

Okay. I wish I’d thought of that. I know it’s not the best thoughts to have. Therefore, I won’t have them. There was a root. Right there, there was a root and for me, Christian counseling was discovering, okay, if this is why I’m feeling this way, or this is what I’m feeling, why am I feeling that way? And that was the beginning of the road to healing for me.

Julie Lyles Carr: Sandi,, I think a lot of times in our ministry circles, as you’ve said, I have found that the people who are doing the most and, and just going over and beyond, we tend to elevate them as examples of what everybody should be doing. This is the example of somebody who’s truly a faithful Christian. This is the example of somebody who is truly a faithful church member.

And those people who are saying, Hey, pause, time out. This is not a season that I can volunteer for everything. Or, this is not a season where I’m going to show up for everything or whatever the deal is. We tend to look at them – well kind of less devoted, you know, their priorities aren’t quite what they should be. 

And yet it is unfortunate, a lot of times that in both our work and faith communities, we tend to celebrate those who probably are going too hard and too fast. So how do we begin to back off a little bit in our communities? Because there are those people who are just high achievers, go, go, go, go, go, and they’re emotionally healthy. Those, those little unicorns do exist out there. But to your experience and to mine, a lot of times the people I see pushing it so hard, I feel this kinship with of, oh sister, I have been there. I tend to fall back into it. Pull your foot off the brake. 

How can we do a better job in our faith communities and our ministry communities to check in and make sure that those who seem to be high achievers are getting the kind of Sabbath rest and soul feeding that they really need? 

Sandi Brown: I think it’s twofold. And then the root on both of them is truth. So one, we have to be willing to hear from someone who’s speaking truth to us who loves us enough to say, Hey are you doing okay? I sensed that you might be running a little hard right now, and um, pouring out more than you’re getting poured into. So we need to be willing to have people speak truth into us and to listen to them. 

And then the other is, is, yeah, we need to be willing to be true speakers ourselves, right? To other people. So it comes with community and, um, and that’s just authentic, vulnerable conversations that are two way streets. How are you doing? Explain to me, tell me how you’re, how you’re navigating and holding it all together. Tell me about the rest you’re getting, tell me about what God’s saying to you in these days, or are you just doing and doing and in that kind of thing, and then also the, um, the emotional, uh, wellbeing enough to go, I hear you. 

And I, you know, for me, I don’t know, I’m hitting a wall until I hit the wall. I’m not a good temperature-taker in my own life. And then I hit the wall and I’m like, wow. And I go back and look at my calendar. And like, the signs were right there. I was just doing too many things. So for me, I’ve learned that I need people around me and I have a few of them in my life who, um, I will be really honest with and I will listen when they say, Hey, you need to take a pause.

So it, it just requires, um, truth and vulnerability on both sides. 

Julie Lyles Carr: You know, a few years ago when I was running real full-out Sandi, just in much in the vein in which you’re speaking of, I felt like God dropped something in my heart and I’m still unpacking the truth of what this means and trying to extend the grace of what this means to others.

And that was this phrase: God is not the job. You know, a lot of times, for those of us who are either in ministry vocationally, or we just are really embedded our faith communities and doing a ton, we can lose sight of relationship, true relationship with God, because we’re so busy doing all of the tasks surrounding what we believe to be effective ministry or on fire ministry, or however you want to phrase those things.

And I love that you do that check where you look at the calendar and go, oh, there are the signs. Cause I, myself, I am raising my hand. I’m one who will run straight into the wall and then go, oh, how did this happen? Back up, take a look. And the other thing I’ve had to accept too, and I’d be interested to see if this is part of your case as well.

You know, there was a time where I could run more full-out not, probably not in a healthy way at all, but when you back up. And then you begin to allow some things to come back in and fill the calendar again. I’ve had to be really intentional to keep it back from what that max number was, because just because that was the case, a few seasons ago of all the things that I felt like I should be doing and could be doing, I’m having to learn that really that was not my threshold. I thought it was, but it wasn’t, and I’m having to back up and figure out what is actually a healthy threshold. And then how do I get a couple clicks, even below that to leave some margin? What has that been like for you? Because when you’ve had sort of that high performance capacity and you can show it and you can go back and go, yeah, I remember the year that I did dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah.

And you set that as the marker, even in the places of trying to get healthy again, it’s awful hard to let go of what some of those high productive years looked like. How has that been for you to reset where you’re keeping that threshold now? 

Sandi Brown: Yeah. And I want to be careful to not paint a picture that it’s all about doing too much or how much we do, but rather the weight we’re carrying while we’re doing what we’re doing.

Good. So, um, because, uh, for me, it wasn’t, my core issue was not that I was running too fast or doing too much. It was, uh, an element of, it was clearly, I think I was trying to fill with a lot of goods so that it would cover up the bad feelings I was having, but the weight is different. And so I would just say when you’re not carrying the weight of shame or the weight of, you know, um, maybe some past hurts and trauma and things like that. When you can, when you can process through and let that weight go, you actually have more capacity to do more, but that’s not the goal. Right. You have a freedom and to do things that are life-giving. Things that are helpful and not just busy-ness.

So, yeah, it’s all of that combined, right? I think the goal is to not do more or less. It is to do life freely. And carry less weight. And for me, counseling was, um, I think everything felt weighty because I was not only doing, but I was carrying this shameful, you know, these shameful messages that I had believed about myself for quite some time, while then trying to do the work.

So I do think there’s this distinction there and that’s why some people do like, might I might not. I look at my account calendar and it’s not even that full, but I still feel exhausted or I still feel worn out. Why is that? Because you’re carrying a weight that is heavier than even the work that you’re doing, right?

You’re carrying some things maybe from decades before, now, that are just adding to the weight of everything that you do. 

Julie Lyles Carr: Sandi, that is such a great piece of wisdom. That distinction, because you’re right. I tend to focus more on the busy and how busy have I gotten. Without thinking about what I’m actually dragging into the arena with me. That is so profound.

So talk to me about realizing as you started unpacking all of this, you, you realize that you weren’t feeling liked by God, which is such a great, great distinctive there to realize that that’s part of the element. And as you began un packing this, you’ve talked about in your new book that you put together, with your counselor, which I want to talk about that more in a second too, this, your book “Healing Out Loud.”.

Talk to me about, as you began to realize the root. I know that in some of your work, you’ve talked about the grief and shame you were carrying, that you didn’t even realize was influencing how you felt about yourself. What was it in that grief and shame lane that she began to realize was influencing all of this?

Sandi Brown: Well, to me, you know, we all have hurts in our past, right? We all, we all have things that have shaped us in a, in, in the hard ways. Um, and what I thought was, I didn’t know that there was some connection to those pieces of my past life today because I’d done a really good job of moving past them. Right. But what I realized, there’s a difference between a memory and a message.

And so the memory of something that happened to us is one thing, um. The message that we took from that pain is something different. So for me example, when my dad left I felt unloved by him. There was abuse, there was some trauma there and all of those things, I thought, Well, don’t think about those things on my daily basis, I’ve moved past those.

They don’t, you know, I don’t sit and dwell. I’m not depressed about those things, but the messages that I took from those, which were, you were not loved. You were broken. You were dirty. No one really likes you. If people knew about those things, I had never shared any of the real painful things in my life with anybody.

And so the messages that were there. And so for me, it was going back and connecting dots between not only something that happened in the past, but more importantly, there were messages that I would embrace in my heart back then that were with me 40 years later that I just didn’t, wasn’t aware of. That weight again, there, there was a root to all of those.

Once I began to examine that there was a place for them to begin, but they began and that they were not truthful. Yes. Something painful happened, but the message that I took from that was not truthful. Um, then you can unpack it and start to go, man. I don’t need to carry that anymore because that’s not true.

So, um, it was just so helpful to see the difference between a painful past, whether it’s someone who goes through something that they’ve lost, something or grief. Or a broken relationship. You think you’ve moved past that because calendar pages have flipped, but if there’s a message that attached from that to your heart, that’s not truthful, that’s the importance of going back and dissecting and going, okay, what, what did I carry from that, that I don’t want to carry it any longer? Identifying it and letting those things go and trust God with the hurt, the past, the message and embracing more truth. 

Julie Lyles Carr: That is so powerful. The difference between a memory and a message.

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I think this is sometimes where if someone hasn’t walked through something that on a trauma scale, they would say, well, gosh, you know, yeah, I had, I got beat up when I was in sixth grade and I, I tried out a number of times for this thing and I didn’t what someone else has been through, I don’t even feel like that qualifies. That, that can’t be part of what’s going on.

And yet the message that a really traumatic situation. One that we would classify as whoa, all the way to something that we’re like, well, that was just elementary school kids being kind of mean to each other. The message can actually be the same and can carry the same kind of weight on into adulthood. Do you find that to be true?

Sandi Brown: Absolutely. Right. And that’s where I think where we’re not helpful to ourselves, right? Like, oh, I I’ve never had anything really catastrophic happen to me. Therefore, I’m just crazy to think these things or whatever, but a message is a message. And when it is one that goes to the core of who we are, like, you’re not good enough. No one likes you. Right? Um, you’re broken in some way. 

Like those can come from a variety of places and don’t diminish in your own mind where they come from. As you said, the message is there. And if we’ve believed it, it doesn’t matter where it came from. We believe something to be true that’s not true.

And then shame starts to play out in our lives and we begin to believe shame more than we do the truth. And so I would say, yeah, um, the discovery process shouldn’t be led by how big your trauma was, right. It should be led by if there’s some inconsistency between what you know, in your mind to be true – God loves me – and these feelings that I have that are in congruent with that, that just don’t line up. That’s enough to try to figure that out because there’s some message there that you’re believing more than the truth. And I knew that, like I knew, but I still couldn’t figure out why it was so, um, connected to me emotionally. And there’s a reason for that. 

Julie Lyles Carr: So you began to work with Dr. Michelle Caulk and she really encouraged you along the way to become more vulnerable with what was going on. And that sounds really scary, honestly, Sandi, because when we’re already going in, we’re already hurt. And we have developed some coping mechanisms in order to try to preserve ourselves wherever those hurts have come from.

And now you’re going into somebody who’s like, and I want you to be even more vulnerable. And you had to disclose some things in the process of your own healing that not even your own husband knew. So what was that process like? Where did you find the courage, first of all, to be willing to traffic and that kind of vulnerability.

And what was the outcome of taking that vulnerability out of the counseling office and into your relationships and begin to disclose some things in long-term relationships that you had not talked about before? 

Sandi Brown: Well, trust and safety, where the keys. You know, Michelle, my doctor didn’t advise that I do this day one or even month one or month six, but it was after that, I had realized in the relationship with her that, Hey, I can put some things out there, be met with grace, acceptance and love to go, Hey, I’m not the only person that you can have this experience with.

Right. So when she felt I was ready, she invited me into have these vulnerable conversations with my husband. And she said, I think you’re ready. And my initial reaction was you’re asking me to do something that feels like walking out into the street naked, right. In a busy intersection. Like I’m never ready for that.

I’m just not ready for that, but it was a free fall moment for sure. Um, but I had some rehearsal in that. Right. I had months of counseling and re was rehearsing, being vulnerable, practicing it out and in the, the earth didn’t fall in on me. So I’m like, okay, let’s try this again. And I’m so thankful that she did because healing and being vulnerable is a two way street. And the only way that I was ever going to feel loved, which was a core issue of mine, right – I feel unlovable – is to tell somebody something that’s very personal and very painful and see them love me back anyway. So it wasn’t even really about me telling somebody something as much as Michelle knew that I would receive a gift that my heart needed.

I would be loved anyway. And so I would say if you’re holding onto something that’s difficult, I understand that. In time when you’re ready and when you know the person that you’re going to be talking to is safe, you will get something back so much more than you give away. It seems risky that you’re like giving a part of your life away, but what you get back that unconditional love is such a gift and there’s no other way to get it then, right? 

If you’re wanting to know someone loves you no matter what, then tell him something no matter what, and then get that gift back. And it’s, so life-giving. 

Julie Lyles Carr: Now that’s one side of the vulnerability coin, right. Is having the courage to be able to tell someone and disclose and practice that. The flip side that I sometimes see in faith communities and even, even organizations that are trying to help people get to a place of wholeness, maybe not faith-based, but a different type is what I would call a premature vulnerability in that we sometimes are encouraging people to share really deep things in environments that may not be the best suited for that.

And in my tenure in ministry, this has become more and more of a concern for me because you can’t be vulnerable with just anybody. Do you find this to be the case? And what are some of the things we need to be thoughtful about before we just go telling all of the things in a setting in which we really need safety and security in order to be fully vulnerable for healing.

But that is probably not going to be in your small group Bible study, no matter how long you guys have been buddies. May not be around the discussion table at a mom’s group. What do we need to do in order to remain supple enough to be vulnerable, but not disclose to people who aren’t ready for this kind of information about us.

Sandi Brown: Well, in the book talk, there’s a chapter about that, about vulnerable conversations that you know, Michelle, Dr. Michelle kind of leads you through a process of discerning. Are you ready to figure out how you, how do you figure out if someone is safe or not? So there’s, there’s that, but I would say, um, I would play it cautious.

I would have, um, one of two things. I would either talk to a counselor and let them help me discern, or I would pick one person, my safest person in my, in my bubble or in my sphere and start with them and then ask them for counsel and wisdom on, does it go beyond this? But you’re exactly right. It can do so much to a heart that has been wounded before to put too much out there and then receive either too much feedback or not the right kind of feedback or what or whatever.

So I would just say really be cautious if you are in that situation where trust has been broken before you’ve been hurt before. Um, it’s, it’s, it’s not helpful to just start having vulnerable conversations because you think that’s the next step in healing. It really, um, it really isn’t. It can, it can do more harm than good.

Julie Lyles Carr: Right? I, I think under sharing obviously is a major issue, or we haven’t been able to disclose things that have happened to us and the impact, but oversharing is another thing that sometimes some of us need to be thoughtful and cautious about. Because this isn’t to some degree, our hurts are sacred ground and not everybody can be invited into that space.

Now I find this really fascinating as a result of everything that you went through. You’ve also written devotionals and you have been part of this radio family for quite a period of time. As a result of those experiences and working with your counselor, Dr. Michelle Caulk, you decided that you would work on a book together, which I think is really interesting, Sandi. I haven’t really heard of a patient and a therapist working together on a book.

I think the idea is so exceptional because it gives, it gives experiences from both sides. When did you guys start cooking this idea up and go, you know what? This just might have some legs to it. 

Sandi Brown: Well, after our counseling journey ended, we formed a friendship when it was appropriate to do so. And didn’t cross any, any boundaries of course. And it was there just in some authentic friendship kind of conversations where I was so pleased with how helpful this journey had been for me and wondered, man. I, I, I love that it’s helped me, but is there a way in which we could share this with other people?

And we talked about if I would write a book or if she would write a book or whatever, and I’m not, I think it was just got inspired. Maybe that we wondered, what would it look like if the story were told from both sides of the couch? And it can’t be told when you’re still a client, right. That would be a, it would be inappropriate, but since we’ve moved past that.

And so we started talking to publishers and realized that there was no other book in Christian publishing like this, and it was important that there was enough story there that any reader would go, okay. She gets my pain. She understands my story, but then it also be about you the reader, not just about me, so that you have Dr. Michelle kind of unpack not only our journey through my healing process, but what yours could be. And there’s a healing map there that starts from wherever you are and walks you through the steps of your own healing. And so it’s not just written by, by my former counselor and me, but it really is about you and your healing journey.

And we hope that it is as an invitation for you to begin to heal out loud as well. 

Julie Lyles Carr: You and Dr. Michelle feel like that shame is one of the most misunderstood and yet most pervasive emotions that a lot of women share in particularly women of faith share when it comes to this space of this underlying sense of not feeling fully loved, accepted, liked.

So define shame for us and, and why you think we sort of get it wrong in our understanding of it when it comes to our own healing? 

Sandi Brown: Yeah. Well, I remember when Dr. Michelle was early on in our counseling, said, um, you’re wrestling with shame. And I disagreed with her. I shook my head and said, um, well, I, I, you don’t know me yet. And I’m much more familiar with my issues than you are. I don’t wrestle with shame. And so then she wrote down some of these words and she, she said, um, do you wrestle with stuffed feelings? Perfectionism? Humor to cover up your problems? Problem fixing behavior? Approval seeking? Driven to perform? Living constantly on guard, waiting for the bad news that’s about to happen? 

And I’m like, yeah, check, check, check, check, check, check, check. And so I couldn’t deny it any longer. And um, she’s like, why, why is it such a big deal that you wrestle with shame? And I’m like, it sounds awful. Like who wants to admit that, that I have shame or that it has some role in my life.

And what I realized is that I thought shame was you do something bad and you feel shame about it. And I knew that I had done wrong things in my life, but shame is not, not that that shame is a message, right? Shame is some message that we have taken from something from our past that is not truthful, but that is highly motivating in our life.

Um, that keeps us going woulda, coulda, shoulda, woulda, coulda, shoulda. Right. And you’re not good enough as you’re always on the hyper mode to try to overcompensate whatever this thing is. And so she talks about hidden shame and about visible shame and in the book as well. And I would just say more of us deal with shame than we probably are aware of. And no one wants to admit it, especially in the church, but I contend that as long as you deny, you’re not going to get better. So for me, it was going okay. I don’t like the word. But you have just pegged me and identified my life in such a powerful way. I’m going to lean in now and find out, well, why do I struggle with shame?

Where did it come from? What are the roots? And again, that was the beginning of really pulling out these things that had been driving a driving force in my life for decades. 

Julie Lyles Carr: How do you now distinguish now that you’ve been through this therapy cycle with Dr. Michelle, now that you’ve been through the process of writing the book and, and you’ve been so engaged in your own healing.

This is where I think sometimes we can get stuck a little bit as Christians because we can intellectually understand that maybe we’re carrying some shame we don’t need to, but we’re also being prompted, not just through maybe the teaching that we receive in our faith communities, but also through being in God’s word, to be receptive to those, that sense at times of conviction about something, about something that we have done and something that we probably shouldn’t have done and something that we need to receive forgiveness for. 

How do you distinguish that now, now that you’re in a healthier place about understanding what shame is and its messaging to not being so open to receiving that burden and that weight of that kind of shame, but also being supple enough to be convicted of something. How, how do you handle that? 

Sandi Brown: Well, I think scripture is very clear about the difference between conviction and condemnation, right? Conviction leads you to the savior. Condemnation leads you to, there’s no way out from this right in the, and the Bible is clear. There is no condemnation when, once we’re in Christ.

So the, the difference is the holy spirit. When he convicts me, it is. Here’s here’s what was done wrong and you need to come to me so we can get things right and forgive. Condemnation says, it’s not fixable. You’re not fixable and you’re broken beyond repair. And so it’s that identity. I navigate through that almost on a daily basis.

What I’m feeling now is this coming from the condemning father of lies? Or is this coming from a convicting, loving holy spirit who wants to get me on a track that is better for my life and more in line with his will for my life. And it is a process for sure, but I had been living way too much in condemnation.

Like, you know, I’m not, I’m not good. I’ll never be good. Um, and there’s a truth to that script, right? We’re not good. Our righteousness is as filthy rags, but it was the sense of brokenness. I was not showing myself the same grace and compassion that Jesus was showing me or that he calls us to show everybody.

And so the difference is conviction versus condemnation. 

Julie Lyles Carr: That’s such a beautiful way of looking at the difference between those two things. So the book is Healing Out Loud and it’s overcoming grief and shame told through the lens of a client and therapist, which is just amazing. Sandi, where can listeners go to find out more about you and go out to find out more about the book about Dr. Michelle, all the good stuff? 

Sandi Brown: Our website is healingoutloud.com and the book is available anywhere, not only through our website, but Amazon and Barnes and Noble and Christianbook.com. So it’s out there everywhere. If you go to the website, we would love to connect with you. Let us know questions you might have.

Again, some of your story, we would, there are resources there to how to find a counselor and how to plug in wherever you might be to do some help, but yeah, healingoutloud.com and that’s the name of the book as well. Healing Out Loud. 

Julie Lyles Carr: Okay. We’ll get that in the show notes. Thank you so much for being with me, Sandi Brown.

What, what an incredible conversation. So appreciate your vulnerability with all of us and helping us understand more about how there is a big difference between memory and message and how those messages can continue to influence us. Just so appreciate the work you’re doing. 

Sandi Brown: Thanks, Julie.

Julie Lyles Carr: Check out our show notes, cause that’s what you’re gonna find all the great links and extra resources. Rebecca puts those together every week. Hey, before you finish up. I would love your help with this. We are putting together – first time we’ve done it this way – we’re putting together an episode with your questions.

It can be any questions you have specific to this series, but it can also be just anything, general stuff. Faith issues. Mom stuff, wife stuff, whatever. Just send it our way. If you would send those to comments@allmomdoes.com. That’s comments@allmomdoes.com. I would so appreciate it. We’re really excited to put together a special episode for you.

And we want to hear from you. Join us on the socials. Go to AllMomDoes.com for more posts and resources and great tools. I love to hear from you too. I’m Julie Lyles Carr in all the places on the social medias. And I’ll see you next time on the AllMomDoes podcast.

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