From an article originally posted January 31, 2014…
I found this sweet little book at the Goodwill Outlet in Denver. I believe I paid a quarter for this gift. Last week I pulled it out and started reading it to the kids. It’s stunning; it speaks to my heart, its deep truths are convicting. I’m not even through the book and I’m deeply moved by the words.
It took a bit for the kids to connect to the story, but by the third day my big girls were asking for the story. I believe they were enjoying the cadence of my voice reading at night. The time spent slowing before sleep next to me, next to love. I’m away for a moment to work on writing, and I’m missing this time reading.
I had never had the privilege reading this book. I’m enraptured. I want to share a chapter that has reminded me of my encounter last week with the gentleman drinking deeply for his peace. Hear these words from The Little Prince. This is the moment in the book he’s traveling from planet to planet exploring.
The next planet was inhabited by a tippler. This was a very short visit, but it plunged the little prince into deep dejection.
What are you doing there? he said to the tippler, whom he found settled down in silence before a collection of empty bottles and also a collection of full bottles.
I am drinking, replied the tippler, with a lugubrious air.
Why are you drinking? demanded the little prince.
So that I may forget, replied the tippler.
Forget what? inquired the little prince, who already was sorry for him.
Forget that I am ashamed, the tippler confessed, hanging his head.
Ashamed of what? insisted the little prince, who wanted to help him.
Ashamed of drinking! The tippler brought his speech to an end, and shut himself up in an impregnable silence.
And the little prince went away, puzzled.
The grown-ups are certainly very, very odd, he said to himself, as he continued on his journey.
I became very quiet reading these words to my children. My heart grieves knowing so many that take this broken path and then cannot free themselves from the path with the cycle of shame. Shame is such a punk. But I would lie if I didn’t know shame to walk me down many dark alleyways where I struggle to live in the freedom that died a undeserving death to set me free—miraculously free. These patterns of self-loathing are suffocating. Alcohol is such a liar: it offers calm that is manufactured, it offers escape that won’t last, and it leaves in its path a needing of more to mask the shame it brings. The torn face I met a few days ago was the king of this planet, living in the worn path of shame and despair. He knew not another path to take. My heart hurt for him, and my heart knew him. I know the traveling away from true peace to find comfort. It leaves only brokenness.
I look forward to returning home and adventuring more with this intuitive young prince with my littles.
I end with a similar question as I did last week. What areas of shame keep you from knowing freedom? What places of fear and despair keep you the master of a planet of despair and shame? How does pain draw you to comforts of this world and away from the true comfort of Jesus? Where can you safely shed light on this darkness you are nurturing and protecting from letting anyone in your life? How would honesty and community help you put down living as king or queen of the kingdom of darkness and bondage?