Shirlee Lamoureux

San Juan Islands, WA
Registered Counselor/Certified in Domestic
Violence Advocacy/Spiritual Mentor
(Grew up in Farmington, NM and Ashland, OR)

I remember my early childhood with fondness. It was an idyllic time when neighborhoods were safe and being part of a gang meant being in a gang of kids who played Kick the Can and Run Sheep Run. It was a time without televisions, computers and iPods; a time of family togetherness; listening to the Hit Parade on the radio, having taffy pulls, and summer campouts, in a tent, with none of today’s modern conveniences. Our home was filled with love and laughter and fun.
This perfect life, however, shattered when I was 11 and my mother left our family to pursue another relationship. There was no goodbye or anything that might help ease the shock of this devastating event; my sister and I came home from school one day and Mom was gone. I was distraught by the abandonment, but in my child-like thinking I blamed myself for her leaving: if only I had been a better daughter, my mother would have stayed.

Consequently, the script for my life was written! If I become a perfect person, no one will ever leave me again. I created impossible standards for myself, standards that God never intended for me. I was driven to be the perfect person and any failure was proof of my total lack of virtue and worth. I agonized over something as insignificant as a misspelled word on my grocery list and literally rewrote the list over until it was neat and error free. This impossible standard of living caused me to be judgmental toward others who did not meet my standards of perfection. I was fearful that others might discover my imperfections and if they did, I became defensive.

Undeniably, with these attitudes, I continuously set myself up for failure and rejection. Several failed relationships, the death of two infant sons, and three divorces brought me to a place of absolute brokenness. In this place of deep pain, God began to heal me and in this healing process, He also set me free from the need to perform. Through my incredible loss and pain, I came face to face with the incomprehensible grace of God.
All my attempts at perfection only succeeded in bringing shame and personal disappointment. How could God possibly love someone who failed so continually? In trying to sort through my failures, I sought the help of a counselor. This wise man looked into my pain and saw a heart in desperate need of grace. He introduced me to David Semand’s book, Healing Grace, and as I came face to face with the unconditional grace and love of God, my need for perfect performance slowly began to dissipate.

It was not an overnight healing, but a slow, sweet introduction into my Savior’s loving grace and unconditional acceptance. As I began to grasp the truth that God loved me because I was His child, and that it was impossible for me to do anything to make Him love me more, or less, I began to risk trusting His love. The amazing thing that transpired out of this place of receiving grace was that, as I learned to trust God, I began to trust that others might also love an imperfect me. Slowly, I started being real with a few close friends and to my surprise, they had always known that I wasn’t perfect and they loved me anyway. I spent the next several years learning to walk out the truth of grace and love. Ultimately, grace became the most important ingredient in my life. God then placed me in a ministry of counseling in which I have the wonderful privilege of walking people out of the performance trap (the Room of Good Intentions) into the beautiful Room of Grace (see TrueFaced). This is now my calling: To minister the love and grace of God to a hurting world. I am a steward of the grace He has so freely given me.

Brittany Sawrey