The Beast of Shame
The Enemy of Our Soul
One day while conversing with my granddaughter about my desire to remarry, she cringed and said ewe, gross!
I was taken aback by her attitude and laughed out loud because I had felt the same way for years because of shame.
Of course, I didn’t tell her what I was thinking at the moment of our girly interactions. Instead, I carefully, age appropriately, explained to my granddaughter that God made sex between a husband and wife to be a beautiful experience; it was His gift to creation. Moreso, He created the desire to kiss, soothe, touch, long for one another when apart, and show affection to one another; some people get a little carried away publicly, of course. And the best gift was the fruit they produced; the fruit of their love was their children.
I understand there is a healthy and unhealthy shame, just like a wave of healthy anger and harm. Growing up religiously taught that sex was evil kept me from experiencing the goodness of God by marrying a godly man and true intimacy between the sheets in the marriage bed. First, I am not a sex therapist. However, because of my upbringing, I did not know the difference between sexual abuse and true intimacy. Sadly, most women don’t know the difference until it is too late. Growing up, I wondered why God made such a beautiful experience between a man and his wife to connect, bond, and attach beautifully woven together? Why would such a loving God expect the wife not to enjoy her husband sexually and be fully known by him in every aspect of her true self; her body, mind, and spirit. Instead, women are conditioned to be still and know thy husband is lord over their body, mind, and spirit. She is labeled or punished through passive aggression if she does not comply.
Because many of us feel uncomfortable talking about sex, we dismiss it as something to be ashamed of when it is a sacred part of life. Intercourse is the consummation, internalizing a husband and wife; thus, they become one. In the book, The Soul of Shame (2015), the author, Dr. Curt Thompson, discusses how Adam and Eve knew one another. For example, they were naked in the garden when God made them. Thompson says nakedness is being fully understood by one another; however, when the serpent deceived Eve, Adam was with her, yet Adam did not intervene on his wife’s behalf; Adam was passive.
Adam knew God first. Adam spent time with God naming every creature God had made. Could Adam have known the serpent was crafty? I don’t know. Adam could have stopped the conversation; however, he did not. Thompson also explains how Adam and Eve covered themselves when they saw their nakedness and hid because they were ashamed.
Thompson says shame causes us to hide our true selves. We are afraid to speak our minds for fear of judgment, accusations, and condemnation. We may believe the lies told to us that we weren’t smart enough, good enough, or attractive enough, yet when God made man and woman, He said all of His creation was good. However, God called Adam and Eve very good. Yet, we believe the lie Shame tells us that we are not enough, rather than the truth of God, that we are enough.
I suspect Shame is always lurking like a snake behind the scenes to keep us from living the life God intended for us in every area of our lives. Shame is always ready to give unsolicited advice; he talks us out of taking that leap of faith to be fully known by God and others, so we hide our true selves behind a fig leaf like Adam and Eve.
According to neuroscience, our caretakers wired our brains since early childhood. Our brain wants to protect us from being vulnerable and constantly reminds us of our wounds, wounded, and past mistakes. Likewise, that is how our ancestors were taught since Adam and Eve, thus passing this belief down from generation to generation. For instance, our caretakers shamed us into believing our discoveries about ourselves, our environment, our world, and our sexuality. Shame silences us when we ask questions that may seem naïve because someone told you you were stupid. Shame lurks like the serpent in the garden, wanting to deceive us. He lurks in the marriage bed, whispering to the unloved wife that she is not good enough; her husband does not desire her, or he says the same to the husband; thus causing division. So, like Adam and Eve, we hide behind masks or isolate ourselves so no one can know our true selves. Sadly, we lose sight of ourselves as the front becomes ingrained in us.
However, the good news is that we can rewire our brains with help from the Lord and counseling! Neuroscientists have discovered that the brain can be rewired/renewed by repetition. Scientists have found that “neurons that fire together, wire together. Paul was not a Neuroscientist, yet He knew the mysteries of God over two thousand years ago. So Paul says in Romans 12:1-2, NKJV.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what that is good and acceptable and perfect will of God is.”
When the Lord was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, He called to Adam and said, Where are you?” (Gen. 3:8-11, Thompson, Curt, M.D, chapter. 5). God wasn’t asking where Adam was physical; He was asking where he was spiritual. When we can be ourselves without fear of shame, we find true freedom, but it takes work on your part. I can’t say I have attained the full measure of my healing, but what I have already achieved is far beyond where I once was. Recovery comes after we have dealt with and tamed the Beast of Shame within ourselves.
The Soul of Shame by Curt Thompson, 2015, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Il.
What is Spirituality?
By Elizabeth Scott, Ph.D., VeryWellMind, 2020