Thursday, April 12, 2012

Toxic Shame

Living our lives in complete and total truth, is one of the hardest things to do.  Why?  Well, first of all, as a nation, we do not believe in absolute truth anymore.  It seems we have taken God out of everything in order to serve our own purpose.  The Bible says, He gave them their request, but sent leanness to their souls (Psalm 106:15).  Consequently we have created our own sense of right and wrong, which leaves every man doing what is right in his own eyes, (Judges 17:6); a prescription for failure.  We have mastered this way of life, and told ourselves that God’s truth simply does not matter. 

It all started in the Garden.  From the beginning of time, man lived in perfect harmony with God, the animals and nature.  God gave Adam and Eve the law of the land which they did not heed.  Consequently, through one man’s disobedience sin and shame entered into the world.  Suddenly aware of their nakedness, they covered themselves with fig leaves and were removed from the Garden.  As a result, we are still using those fig leaves today to cover our shame; only now they are called addictions.
As a society, we have given ourselves over to abortion, divorce, sexual promiscuity, divination and idolatry, just to name a few.  Therefore, our spiritual inheritance passed from one generation to the next has caused shame to dominate our culture now more than any other time in history.  Shame comes through many different avenues but whether it is incest, molestation, rejection, unworthiness, fear or abandonment, it is toxic and debilitating. 

It is a proven fact that shame is the number one contributor to addiction.  Eighty percent of society knows someone who is struggling with an addiction.  People are medicating their shame with shopping, drugs and alcohol, over eating, exercise, perfectionism, pride and control.  It is an attempt to medicate their pain, but only a temporary solution. 
Remember, Jesus came as the second Adam, to pay the price for all sin for all mankind.  He said, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. But I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly (John 10:10).  Often times, fear and wrong thinking makes one believe if they have strong boundaries, if they voice their pain, if they get angry or if they show weakness, they will lose the love of those closest to them.  They fear the truth will bring them more rejection and abandonment.  This dysfunctional attitude cripples those who suffer from toxic shame.  Further, it is perpetuated by the lack of deliverance ministers and education the church has available to help people with these kinds of issues. 

I discovered my insecurities and self-loathing were caused by my parent’s divorce.  Their neglect failed to satisfy the love I needed as a child.  I also had a spiritual inheritance from my father’s side of the family, of a fatherless spirit.  This spirit carries with it the deepest kind of shame next to molestation.  Subsequently, I became a perfectionist, trying to work for the approval, acceptance and love of my father, as well as men in general.  It was impossible for me to have real intimacy with God or man.        

So how do we dispel the toxic shame in our lives?  There is no way to change the past, but we can certainly change the future.  The first step is to find the root of that shame.  This is a painful process of digging deep into the inner most recesses of one’s life; a process that demands complete and total honesty with one’s self.  Then, there must be a confession and acknowledgement of those difficult things you have been hiding for years—things that have severely wounded you.  Lastly, a person has to walk out a process of removing the layers of self protection, so that they are open to letting go of their shame.
For a long time, I held on to my pride, control and unforgiveness.  Eventually I realized those were the very things that kept me from being delivered.  I had to stop blaming others for how I felt and trust that if I lived a life of total truth, people could, and would love the real me.  In time, I began to love myself for who God created me to be. 

It started when I went to Heaven, by way of visitation.  There came a cleansing fire and the love of God was so deep that I never wanted to cover up or medicate my shame again.  In fact, I prayed fervently for God to take it away.  This allowed Him to heal my brokenness with His love, understanding and care.  It wasn’t instantaneous, but I stand before you today delivered from toxic shame. 
Not everyone can have a heavenly visitation.  However, I know given the right resources, God can help those who struggle with debilitating toxic shame.  Like myself, you must believe you are not a mistake, nor are you a failure, in fact, God loves you very much.  It is especially hard when others condemn you and judge you, instead of seeing your pain.  All anyone really needs is to feel loved and accepted.  The Bible says we are, Accepted in the Beloved (Eph 1:6b).  It also says the only successful way to freedom is the truth.  You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free, (John 8:32). The word “make” in the Hebrew language means “to liberate or to deliver.”

Rev Daina House
4/12/12

2 Comments:

Blogger Bob said...

Interesting comments on shame, Rev. Daina, beginning with your reference to Adam and Eve “covering” themselves. This is the very origin of the word shame, a “covering” of painful feelings for some disgraceful act. This is how we should see our sins - as shameful. The shame becomes toxic when we refuse to see our words and actions as wrong and we cover them up [or medicate them] with drugs, alcohol, etc. as you describe.
So, there it is: genuine shame is good. It is good that God has placed within us an initial, natural reaction for us to cover our ignominy, our shame. But that reaction is only a first, elementary step. We see this with little children, who often exhibit and react with a sixth sense whenever they do wrong. They are tempted to say that a sibling or friend influenced them or “made them do it”. It is painful, of course, for anyone to admit that he is wrong. But that is precisely why shame has potential to be good. It reveals to us our shortcomings.
Toxic shame, however, is a denial of sin and can become tragic. It is a “covering” with no intention of coming to terms with the situation. Instead of using the shame as an occasion to approach God for help, we are tempted to hide our shortcomings. As adults we find convenient and convincing ways to justify our foibles, which is why your description of getting to the root of our shame demands a confession before God in what is often a gradual and continual struggle. God hates the sin, not the sinner. When we recognize our dependence on Jesus and admit that He loves us, we can “christify” our shame. If we ignore Jesus, shame can indeed become toxic; and poison, spiritual toxicity, can lead to spiritual death. For this reason we must focus on the love of God that you highlight, Rev. Daina, which we find in both the New and the Old Testament such as in Ps. 119:9-16 or in Ps. 90:12 – “So teach us to number our days that we may gain wisdom of heart.”
As I reflect on your heartfelt and insightful comments on your own spiritual journey with shame, I look forward to reading your upcoming book. Thank you for your courageous testimony and witness to God. Perhaps for this very reason, you highlight Psalm 22:5 – “They cried to You and were delivered; they trusted in You and were not ashamed.” - Bob

May 26, 2012 at 9:17 PM  
Blogger Rev. Daina House said...

Bob:

Healthy shame brings conviction! Here is my research in a nut shell!

In the book Deliverance from Evil Spirits, Francis McNutt states, “It is significant that shame a feeling of basic worthlessness, is now seen as the root of all kinds of addiction. John Bradshaw writes in his book Healing the Shame that Binds You, “Toxic shame is multigenerational. It is passed from one generation to the next. The major outcome of toxic shamed people will be a lack of intimacy.” Medical News Today Aug. 27th 2005 writes, “Whether or not shame is a cause of problematic substance use, other problems that go hand-in-hand with shame such as anger or interpersonal difficulties are sufficient justification for implementing shame-reduction interventions into addiction treatment."
Bill Urell from Addiction Recovery states, “Thinking you are not “normal” is the primary mindset of someone who is shame ridden. That is that I'm a failure; not that I made a mistake, but that I am a mistake. Overwhelming shame can produce a sense of isolation in that we begin to feel unique in the aspect that we alone are unworthy of love. C.G. Jung in his paper on Spiritual Bankruptcy says, “As an internalized identity, toxic shame is one of the major sources of the demonic.” Frederick Nietzsche said, “Everyone needs a sense of shame, but no one needs to feel ashamed.”

Thanks for your reply - working hard on re-writes at the present time! I appreciate your prayers...

Rev Daina

June 1, 2012 at 9:57 AM  

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