Monday, April 18, 2016

Shamed By Someone Else's Sin

I am a child of divorce. I am a child of nasty divorce. I am a child of remarried parents who didn't find peace in their second marriages. I bounced back and forth between two households that made some happy memories, but overall weren't happy homes. In both homes, there was a lot of tension, a lot of drama, and a lot of all-out war. In both houses, I was the non-confrontational one that tried to make peace, but I also believed I was at fault for all the war that happened.

You see, shame isn't a neutral force. And shame isn't something people can just leave where someone else left it. Where someone does something shameful, if they aren't sorry, someone else will pick it up and tether themselves to it. Sin generates shame, and the person who carries the shame is often not the person who committed the sin to begin with.

Did I make some mistakes? Well, of course I did. I'm human. I'm not perfect. But was I at fault for EVERYONE ELSE'S problems around me? Well, of course not.

Was it my fault that my parents decided to enter into a custody battle that cost everyone two years and every penny they had and then some? No. But it sure felt like it. Especially when I received an itemized list of everything I had ever cost to one of the homes I lived in. It was made clear to me in both homes that I was the most expensive child, and therefore, the biggest inconvenience. I was everyone's obligation. I was constantly reminded in both homes how much I cost my family. I rarely felt like I was wanted or like I belonged. In both homes, I was a misfit. Not quite like either side. I was ridiculed & mocked a lot. I was made fun of way more than I was hugged. In both homes, I stayed in my room alone way more than I came out to be with my family. When I was alone in my room, all I did was drown in shame. I spent all that time hating myself. 

All this primed me to accept shame and ridicule from other people. In high school, I dated a guy who said he would stop cheating on me if I'd just get skinnier. I've struggled with weight all my life. I was born a chubby baby, I turned into a chubby child, and I didn't want to be a chubby teenager. That's the absolute worst time in the world to feel fat, because even the skinny girls complain about being fat. I wanted to be first in someone's heart, so I almost completely stopped eating. The only time I would eat something was when I felt like I was about to faint. One time I really pushed it and fainted in the middle of biology class, of all places. I told my family I ate at school and I told the school I ate at home. And I STILL wasn't as skinny as the other girls. Eventually, that boy & I broke up, but I kept getting involved with guys that treated me badly. I was drawn to bad treatment because it was what I was used to and therefore what I was comfortable with. I was drawn to or even addicted to shame, and in some ways I still can be.

I ended up marrying a guy who is better than good to me.

He gives me compliments that I still cannot accept. We've been together almost 12 years and I still cannot believe him when he tells me I'm pretty or smart or wonderful. I try, but I just can't see it.

That shame has grown heavier the longer I've carried it around. That shame has been harder to carry that the slap marks and bruises that boy I dated left on me. He slapped me with his hands, but he slapped me harder with shame.

I battle all this shame every day. I battle that inner self-loathing voice that says things to me like "you're bad" and "no one wants you" and "people are only nice to you because they HAVE to" and "you're ugly" and "you'll always be fat so why even try?"

Revelation refers to Satan not by his name, and not by "the enemy", but he is instead called "the accuser", {Revelation 12:10} and for good reason! The best trick in his arsenal is to make the victimized blame & shame themselves. He takes that sin committed against them and slaps them over & over with it until they accept the shame as their own. When we're pummeled by condemnation, rejection & shame enough, we eventually believe we deserved all of it. Not only that, we believe it was all our fault. It dims the hope we have in Christ, and therefore it dims the hope we have in ourselves. 

"I only hit you because you're a bad little girl who needs it" barks the abuser to the one being abused just for being a little girl.

"He'd still be alive if you'd come home sooner or sent him to rehab" he'll say through the inner voice of the one who lost their loved one to suicide.

"You're a whore who was asking for it" the rapist says to his victim who just went out for a night of dancing with her friends. 

"You could've saved your marriage if you were someone worth staying for" he'll whisper in the head of an abandoned wife.

"I wouldn't have to do it if you'd stop being such a bitch" the abusing husband says flippantly as his battered wife tries to conceal her black eye in the mirror. 

Over and over, Satan uses other people's sins to shame someone else who was a victim of these sins. For those of us in the situation where we have been victimized {usually by an authority figure or someone who otherwise dominates us}, we find ourselves slapped by that shame, bruised and broken. We're drowning in this shame rather than resting at the feet of Jesus. If we don't separate ourselves from that shame, it will rip us completely to shreds. Shame is a force of viciousness. It is a special kind of ruthlessness.

Shame will tell you that you aren't good enough.

Shame will tell you that you deserved what you got.

Shame will hush your voice. 

Shame will dull your sparkle.

Shame will tell you that you'll never reach your dream, so you should quit trying.

Shame will fester; it will sprout resentment & bitterness.

Shame breeds self hatred.

Shame will make you put walls up around yourself where no one can reach you.

Shame feels hopeless.

ALL of these are absolute crap. Lies! Absolute lies!

God would never, ever, EVER choose shame for the victimized. Shame like this is just aftershocks from acts of darkness. We were left bleeding and bruised, but in Christ we are no longer broken. Shame is not an act of God. Therefore, shame that was never yours to begin with cannot survive God's love for you. Jesus conquered sin & shame when He took on the world's brokenness on the cross. 

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." ~Hebrews 12:1-3

You have been endowed by Your creator with His grace, so do not ever let someone else's shame disgrace you. Don't let the weight of that shame hold you back from running this race you're in. You just keep on running, and kick that shame back to hell where it belongs.

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