Every day, I walk past this card that I tucked into the corner of my kitchen cupboard. Some days, it’s easy to read and believe. Other days it feels like I’m still drowning in the torment of shame from the lies that neglect, abandonment and betrayal have taught me. I can relate to the writings of Dr. Silvan Tomkins when he says, “If distress is the affect of suffering, shame is the affect of indignity and alienation. Though terror speaks to life and death and distress makes the world a vale of tears, yet shame strikes deepest into the heart of man… It does not matter whether the humiliated one has been shamed by derisive laughter or whether he mocks himself. In either event he feels himself naked, defeated, alienated and lacking in dignity or worth.”
As betrayed partners we have a lot of shame to sort thru. We have physical issues to deal with. Chronic and prolonged trauma can result in PTSD, autoimmune disease, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, anxiety and many other manifestations of toxic stress. These things need to be dealt with at a physical level. (medication, therapy, ect.)
Inside though, there’s a silent killer that lurks behind every thought and tries to become a part of every decision I make and relentlessly refuses to give up it’s claim on my identity. It’s name is Shame.
If I continue to look at the world: the tragedy of my marriage, the people who still don’t believe my story, the ongoing betrayal and abuse that plagues more than half the homes in the “Evangelical Church”. When I stare too long at these devastation’s, the shame and hopeless despair dig their heels in deeper and deeper to the most tender places of my heart and I am overcome.
If I am only focused on myself: my efforts, more medicine, more counseling, more strategies, more diagrams, more herbalists, more oils, more blogs, more therapists, more books, more information, more healing… “heal faster please!”, I tell myself. Or, “I will never get better, how long will this take?!”, I cry. While all of these things are good and necessary to mark the passage of time and loss, I somehow, in the midst of my healthy work, place all of the responsibility of healing solely on my production, performance and effort. This also leads to hopeless despair every SINGLE TIME.
As my good friend says, “We cannot go spelunking for our most broken places in the depths of our soul. Only God knows those places and only HE can do the work of fixing them. And handing us the right tool at the exact right time we need it.” It is not my job to conjure up healing for my shame. It is a God sized problem. I rest in the knowledge of my value and His Son JESUS. Then, God will do the heavy lifting of digging through the shame that keeps me from becoming who He designed.
“Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. We don’t play the major role. No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to JOIN him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do.” Ephesians 2: 7-10 MSG
The best thing someone told me on this road to recovery was, “Rochelle, someday your story and Jesus’ story will intertwine – we don’t know when the shift will happen but when it does – you won’t be able to tell the difference between the two.”
I don’t have to work so hard. What if my only job was to rest? Diane Langberg writes, “So here we are, formerly shamed creatures fixed on Jesus and being changed from glory to glory… we have been called to fix our eyes on Jesus, the great despiser of shame, the All-Glorious One. This Jesus, that he might make a shamed people holy.”
My dear sister,
Is it difficult to look at the One who holds the answers to our shame and hopeless despair?
It’s an old song, but the lyrics came back to me as I write this – it holds such truth and relief as I review the melody in my mind:
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
Oh soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see
There’s light for a look at the Savior
And light more abundant and free” Listen here
Some days, it is difficult for me to fix my eyes- but I press forward and lean in, continuing to hope that my scars of betrayal and shame are being transformed into beautiful garments glory.
“Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor. You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.” Isaiah 61:7 NLT
You are not alone.