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Why I Still Trust God When Shame Feels Heavy

My kids love to go to the playground. It’s one of those with the small brown, tan, and white pea pebbles that cover the ground. The ones that lodge between your flip flop and the bottom of your foot. Those tiny round rocks that dig and press until they find your most-sensitive nerve endings, like some kind of Chinese torture, forcing you to yell “Uncle!” or something worse. Are you there? Can you hear the crunch and grind under your shoes?

When shame feels heavy, here’s how to deal…

I’ve been reluctant to share anything spiritual or vulnerable lately, for fear of it being ripped to shreds by ‘the world’ or over-analyzed by Christians. But vulnerability is beautiful and it inspires me to do better; to be better. I’ve been walking around wearing shame like an overcoat. Each shortcoming and mistake has added to the weight of that coat, like one of those little playground pebbles. I took the pebbles at first, placing them one-by-one into the pockets of my coat. I was able to ignore them and continue to function, but even tiny rocks become heavy after a while.

Last Sunday, during a powerful worship song I heard a whisper from my Father. “My love, there is so much shame attached to your mistakes. Please, lay that burden down and open your eyes to the beauty and purpose right in front of you. Your life may not look anything like you expected at this point, but I’ve got you right where I want.” And the tears flowed.

As the music played and the singers sang, people raised hands and hearts to heaven. Standing there, I began to realize: we think about our own mistakes more than anyone around us. There’s the shame, there’s that sense of being stuck, the fear that holds us back. And it does hold us back.

When shame feels heavy, we focus on burdens that we were never meant to carry. During times like these, it’s really hard to experience joy, peace, and transformation. The pockets begin to bulge and the weight of the coat pulls down on our shoulders. Shame is that way; it just never quite seems to fit.

I vow to let go of past failures and strengthen what remains so I can be a better version of myself each day. Not let go of them completely, as in forget them, but take my fear, shame, mistakes and misgivings, and put them under my feet. When shame feels heavy, I will stay connected to God, moment by moment. I will simply but clearly communicate my struggles and feelings to Him.

By naming the issues I face and calling them out, I allow God to make my obstacles powerless. I will empty the pebbles from my pockets and stand firm. With the faith of a mustard seed, I will see the mountain move underneath my feet. I will use my past to point me higher, closer to God, and I will trust in His faithfulness.

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered in shame.” Psalm 34: 4-6

Want to know how to say no to shame and start to design a life of authenticity? Listen to Episode 31 of The #AskSteveAustin Podcast. Just click here (or listen below).

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6 Mistakes When Reading about Women in the Bible

The false teaching that idolizes men, while subordinating and harming women has been allowed to run rampant in the Church in the name of “Biblical Gender Roles” for too long. This teaching reduces women to objects created by God as an afterthought to please and take care of men. It blames women when men lust after us or assault us. And it limits women’s gifts and calling in ways Jesus never did.Often when Jesus was addressing the legalistic false teaching of the Pharisee’s, He asked them, “Haven’t you read?” The Pharisee’s had the Scriptures memorized, and yet in many cases, they missed the point.

So, if you believe that women have subordinate gender roles in the Church and at home, I ask you:

Haven’t You Read…

  1. “Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time” (Judges 4:4)?

God chose a woman to lead His people, and no it wasn’t because there were no good men. That’s a narrative made up by people who want to limit women; it’s nowhere in the Bible, and it’s insulting to God.

2. “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy’” (Acts 2:17-18)?

Peter quotes the prophet Joel (Joel 2:28-29), and we see God affirming women’s callings in both the Old and New Testaments. So stop trying to silence women in the Church.

3. “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell” (Matthew 5:29)?

Jesus didn’t say, “If you lust after a woman, blame her, and tell her to wear more clothes.” Take responsibility for your own sin—stop shaming and blaming women.

4. “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (1 Corinthians 7:8-9)?

Both Paul and Jesus (in Matthew 19:11-12) say that if one can accept the single life, it is good for that person to do so. So stop idolizing marriage and pretending a woman’s ultimate calling is to become a wife and a mother.

5. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21)?

This verse sets up the “marriage instructions,” so often used to keep women subordinate in the home. God’s design for marriage is not female submission; it’s mutual submission.

6. “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground’” (Genesis 1:27-28)?

Patriarchy wasn’t God’s design. God created Adam and Eve with equal worth and the same responsibilities. Patriarchy is a result of sin entering the world. God warned us it would happen in Genesis 3:16, which was not a command or a part of the curse. It was a description of how sin would affect the relationships between men and women. As Christians, we should be moving away from sin, not elevating it as God’s plan.

Looking for more?

Listen to Stephanie’s conversation on the #AskSteveAustin Podcast today! In Episode 28, Stephanie encourages Christian women to “Stop Trying to be the Proverbs 31 Woman”. Click here (or listen below).

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The Truth about Parenting, Recovery, and Messy Grace (Video)

On Father’s Day 2017, I had the incredible honor of speaking at Unity of Birmingham on the truth about parenting, recovery, and messy grace. The title of my talk is, “Eat Your Heart Out, James Dobson,” and I got really honest for a few minutes as we discussed the messiness of life, faith, parenting, and more.

I started the talk with 4 words that changed my life…

Parenting, Recovery, and Messy Grace

Life is not one-size-fits-all. Neither is parenting or marriage or faith. And recovery from a suicide attempt is hard work. But I have learned in the past five years that it is absolutely worth it.

My family may not look like the subject of a Focus on the Family book by James Dobson, but in this talk, I discuss the truth about marriage, faith, and parenting in the real world. This is a classic “grace is messy” message and I’d love for you to check it out right now!

If you’d like to book me to speak to your church, school, or civic organization, email me at today.

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The Kind of Jesus I Really Need

My kids were watching a happy Christian television show.  The kind of bad TV from the 80’s that airs on some random public station, over the antenna, with ultra cheesy choreography and bad music. It’s not what I would have chosen for them, but let’s be honest, sometimes I just don’t care what they watch.  I’m raising a toddler and a preschooler, and there are times that I’m simply thankful to have a moment to breathe. If bad puppeteering about Jesus means I can have a few minutes to browse Pinterest or use the bathroom all by myself, I’m in.
The Kind of Jesus I Really Need

The Kind of Jesus I Really Need

But now it was time to get ready for bed and the TV was still on. The puppets had ended, and the station was showing an interview-style show from one of those studios where everything is gaudy, from the vinyl gilded furniture to the flowery language.  Big hair, bad make-up, phony smiles, and Holy Ghost tears were everywhere. I don’t remember the exact lingo, but I heard something along the lines of how they were once lost but now are found. How finding Jesus was so beautifully transformative, they hadn’t had a struggle or a sin in the past fifteen years. Once Jesus takes up residence in your heart, they claimed, life is peachy.

I stood there, sick baby on my hip, trying to convince my boundlessly energetic preschooler that it was time for bed, and shaking my head at the show. I was frustrated. They made the Christian life seem perfect, as if Jesus saves us and we become sealed off like Bubble Boy, where sin and struggle cannot penetrate.

One look at my life blew their theory apart. I’d missed a day of work to care for a feverish baby who had exploded three (count them: one, two, three) diapers and wouldn’t stop screaming for Mama. Meanwhile, all these people could talk about is how lovely their life with Jesus is. Could their Lovely Jesus come into my chaos and put these kids to bed while I down a quick glass of pinot grigio? Could their happily-ever-after Jesus please tell me why I believe, yet my daily life is still so hard?

As I listened to their show, I realized something: I don’t know their Jesus at all. And frankly, I don’t need Him.

What I need instead is to hear about the actual life of Christ. The kind of Jesus I really need is the Word made Flesh, a real human being whose cousin and dear friend was murdered unjustly. The Savior who got so worn out He needed to rest while his disciples kept walking. The Jesus who, after sweating in the desert sun, needed to stop and ask for a drink of water from the woman at the well. The Creator who took a nap in the bottom of the boat before speaking to the wind and calming the seas. I want someone to tell me about the Resurrected Lord who was frying fish for the Disciples the morning after the tomb was found empty.

I don’t need to know the Bubble Boy Jesus. The kind of Jesus I really need to know is the Christ who understood life is hard. Making the Christian life out to be before and after shots from The Biggest Loser is disheartening for the Christian and a big fat lie for those who don’t yet believe.

Life with Christ truly is so much better, but I still have to change these messy diapers.

Originally published at Songbird and a Nerd.

This post is part of the #ConfessYourChurchMess series. Read more here, or join the conversation on Twitter! Got a church mess to confess? Email me at today!

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How to Have a Badass Marriage in 10 Easy Steps

I’ve been married 10 years today. But like I said to my wife, 10 years just means we are 5th graders – we still have a lot to learn. You laugh, but honestly, don’t get too stuck on the advice in this article. I’m just a fifth grader. Ask the folks who have been married 40, 50, 60 years. They’re the ones with a badass marriage. Lindsey and I are just getting started.
How to Have a Badass Marriage in 10 Easy Steps

In most cases, married life looks nothing like I expected. I was 24 when we got married, and even though I was in love with Lindsey, I was clueless. I had this very Southern Evangelical Christian view of what a family looked like, and boy was I in for a shock the first time my wife asked me to do the dishes, or help with the laundry, or sweep the floor. I had never seen that modeled – not by my parents or any other family members, so I thought it was my role to go to work, pay the bills, and come home to be King of the Castle.

I laugh at all the ways Lindsey and I have grown together over the past ten years.

Here’s How to Have a Badass Marriage in 10 Easy Steps

  1. Try to out-serve each other. Instead of expecting the other person to have specific duties that is part of their “role” in the relationship, do whatever you can to out-serve them. She usually washes the dishes? Do it without asking. He usually mows the lawn? Surprise him by doing it while he’s at work. Great relationships give more than they ever take. And badass marriages give a lot of grace.
  2. Form a unified front. Whether you are dealing with friends, family, or your children, be united. Talk to your partner first! Make a game plan and have each other’s backs.
  3. Own your issues but don’t feel like you have to own theirs. We celebrate each other for having boundaries. We both deal with anxiety on a semi-regular basis, but we give each other space on hard days. It isn’t our job to “fix” the other.
  4. Honest and direct communication. This should be at the top of every list for a successful relationship of any kind. Say what you need. And say what you don’t need. No one is a freakin’ mind reader. For us, this often means speaking up when we need boundaries around rest. A badass marriage starts with solid communication.
  5. Balance the serious with the fun. I haven’t always been good at that. I used to mask everything with humor. But Lindsey consistently encourages me to speak my truth, and to work through whatever I’m recovering from. It’s still not easy for me at times, but because I adore my wife, I am willing to be vulnerable. Kick-ass marriages have good balance.
  6. Be trustworthy. Trust is the cornerstone of any good relationship. Brennan Manning says trust and love go hand in hand. You can’t have love without trust. If you want to be a kick-ass spouse, you’ve got to earn their trust. That means that if your partner tells you something personal or hard, it goes to the grave with you. Ride or die.
  7. Forgive quickly. Keep the small things the small things. I’ll never forget the ridiculous fight we once had over the exhaust fan in the master bathroom our first year of marriage. Decide what matters, and work it out. But if it isn’t worth a “family meeting,” let it go.
  8. Take some time apart. A badass marriage knows not to smother each other. Let him have a guy’s night. Or leave the kids with him and go enjoy a glass of wine with the ladies. A little absence really does make the heart grow fonder.
  9. Know which family you belong to. Your wife and/or your kids are your family now. You can honor your parents and respect your in-laws without letting their opinions control your relationship.
  10. Don’t neglect date night. I know life is busy and babysitters are expensive, but don’t neglect time away with one another! Lindsey and I have a standing date night every Friday night. Sometimes we go out, sometimes we order pizza and stay in. Either way, we have committed to each other that our time together matters.

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7 Self-Care Tips for Tired Parents

Parenting is exhausting, especially in the early years. I don’t care how many books you’ve read by James Dobson and Focus on the Family, even the most dedicated parents sometimes face burnout.
7 Simple Self-Care tips for tired parents


Here’s the good news: you are not alone.

Just last night, Ben woke up twice with a bad dream, and Caroline ended up in our bed by midnight. Eventually, I found respite on the couch around 2am because I was just sick of fighting with them.

And here’s the thing – I adore my kids. Lindsey and I CHOSE them. We made a conscious decision to have them. We chose to move forward with growing our family and bring little ones into the world. But as cute, smart, and funny as my two kids are, they still wear me out.

Self-Care Tips for Parents

In Episode 011 of the #AskSteveAustin podcast, I share 7 simple self-care tips I’ve learned in the past (almost) 6 years of parenting. The first lesson is: DON’T FORGET TO PLAY. There are six other lessons, like the why I believe Grace throws us an ice cream party on our very worst day, plus the difference between bitterness and boundaries.

If you’re a parent facing burnout, or maybe you’re not a parent, but you’re completely exhausted because….life, check out Episode 011 today! Maybe your kids are no longer at home, or you might not even have children…that’s okay! These self-care tips apply to everyone!

Self-Care for Parents

Click here to listen to Episode 011 of the #AskSteveAustin Podcast right now.

You can also click here to listen (and subscribe) via iTunes.

What did I miss? What parenting lesson would you add to the list? Do you have a hilarious #parentingfail to share with the rest of us? Bring it on! Let’s continue the dialogue in the comments…

Thanks for listening.

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#AskSteveAustin Podcast: Dealing with Tension in Relationships

Relationships can be tough. When there is tension with the people you love, it can make connecting with someone you genuinely care about difficult. Whether it’s a friend, lover, loser, or leaver, the unpredictability of people makes relationships…interesting…at the very least.
How to deal with tension in relationships

The latest episode of the #AskSteveAustin Podcast covers relationships, in all their glory.

In this episode, I talk about:

  • Dealing with parents who don’t approve of your lifestyle
  • How to fight fair
  • People who seem to never suffer
  • How to best love someone with a mental illness
  • The Rules of Wrestling

As usual, I answer your questions from a place of honesty and as a graduate of the School of Hard Knocks. I’m not a doctor or a medical professional – just a guy who’s been there and is willing to tell it like I see it.

Check out my latest episode today!

Got a question? The best questions make it on the show!

Don’t miss another episode – click the button below to get an email each time I publish a new episode!

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