Last week I introduced the concept of intimacy anorexia. To follow up on that subject, this week I will discuss shame.  Many intimacy anorexics and those recovering from addiction unnecessarily suffer with immense shame.

I have known many men who have come to realize their wrongful ways and are  overwhelmed with the burden of shame (of course, shame is something woman experience as well). These men are burdened and overwhelmed by the reality of all the wrongs they have committed and the pain they have caused themselves and others. Guilt, pain, and shame becomes very real and very tangible to those on the road to recovery. In the early stages of recovery from intimacy anorexia, it is common for men to feel overwhelmed by shame and unable to move forward with appropriate healing.

Guilt is a necessary emotion. It helps grab our attention. Guilt motivates us to change our behavior. However, like any emotion, guilt can get out of control and become immobilizing and counter productive. This is what shame does. It becomes and unbearable burden.

Shame pulls us down. Through shame, we feed on the lie that we have committed so much wrong that we are unworthy of forgiveness, redemption, or future blessing in our lives. Through the use of shame the Enemy propagates lies which isolate men from each other and the path to healing and recovery. Shame causes men to labor to try to “do right” when what we need is grace and compassion.

Jesus offers a better way. If you study the life of Jesus, you NEVER see Jesus using shame to judge someone or call them out. He is direct and strong with those who are hypocritical, but to those who are faithful and seek healing, Jesus is compassionate and gentle.

A great illustration of Christ’s compassion is the account of the woman caught in adultery found in Gospel of John chapter 8. The religious leaders at the time tried to discredit Jesus by publicly shaming and bringing to Jesus a women caught in the act of adultery. However, Jesus gently and effectively turned the situation around. He did not shame the woman, but rather offered her immense compassion.

Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”      John 8: 10-11

Jesus reaches out a hand of compassion when we are weary and heavy laden. He does not shame us when we do wrong.  He gentle leads us to repent. He takes away our shame and washes us clean.

Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.     Matthew 11:28-29

What do you think? Do you know someone who may overwhelmed with shame? Is there a way that you can offer comfort?

About John Forrest