Love or hate it, The Shack by William P. Young has made an undeniable mark in literary history. It has been translated into over 40 languages and is listed as one of the top 60 bestsellers of all time.
Personally I enjoyed the book. To me it is a very creative approach to dealing with concepts the human mind has a hard time grappling with – the trinity and why humans suffer.
Regardless, at the beginning of April, the author, Paul Young, came to none other than Kyiv, Ukraine for a Christian publishing fair. We were able to set up a meeting with him at Taras Schevchenko National University (which also happens to be where CCXÂ holds an English club every week that I co-lead with Dasha). Over 200 students came out to hear Young speak and it was pretty exciting.
He mostly told how The Shack came to be. See Young never set out to become an author. He just always enjoyed writing and would create things for friends and family. The Shack came about as he worked through much of the shame from his past and as a way to appease his wife. He originally had 15 copies printed at a local print shop and gave them as presents.
And he was completely okay with there only being fifteen copies. He never thought it would get any bigger. It made me wonder how many times we underestimate the potential of something… or how often we just settle… but I digress…
Then he told his story, which wasÂ full of pain and suffering, some of which others caused and some that he brought on himself. It isn’t my story to tell and I’m sure the details are too fuzzy now to accurately portray anyway, but it shed so much light on how he could write a book like The Shack.
One of the statements he made seemed very accurate so I jotted it down:
Shame destroys your ability to distinguish between an observation and a value statement.
He spoke of how his wife would make an observation (ex. oh you didn’t wash the load of clothes yet) and he would hear a value statement (ex. you are completely worthless) because of all the years of shame. He had a mountain of secrets that he had never told anyone, including his wife, and the shame was killing him. After it nearly ruined his life, he spent the next fifteen years dealing with all the shame and secrets.
Then I started to wonder how many of us walk around in so much shame that we cannot distinguish when someone is just making an observation? How many of us do the same in our relationships with God?
God says, “You haven’t been spending much time with Me and I miss you.” Then we beat ourselves up about how stupid we are for not spending time with Him, how horrible and worthless we are, etc. instead of recognizing, “Oh yeah, that’s true.” and then spending time with Him.
It seems to me we needlessly waste so much time and energy living in shame, beating ourselves up over and over, instead of bringing it to God, dealing with it and living.
God can use even the worst experiences, failures, mistakes, life events for His glory, but we have to relinquish control.
Or at least that’s what I took from my afternoon with Paul Young…