Jesus, Forgiveness, Healing, Grace, Mercy, Redemption are all words that are associated with Christianity but the understanding of them is being lost today's world.
I've met men, especially those in prison, who showed a great interest in Christianity but always kept it at arms length because in their words 'I'm not good enough'. With some of them, when we had talked together at some length about their problems in life, I found out that the root of their problem was what I refer to as 'unhealthy shame'.
I look upon 'shame', of the normal kind, as being a healthy thing. What I mean is that shame is a reaction to the good that is within every one of us, it helps us keep on the straight and narrow. Shame informs our consciences that we are, or we have been doing, something that we instinctively know is wrong.
When we feel ashamed then we are also sad and unhappy and loose whatever self respect we have. But one of the problems with this normal shame is that it rises and falls dependant upon what we are doing. If we're busy with something else that occupies us then then we can put the shame to the back of our minds and forget it for a while. A further problem with this is that as days go by it can eventually fade away altogether and become something we rarely think about.
‘Unhealthy Shame’, for want of two better words, is something very different. To help me explain let me use the following example - I think you'll agree that most young men are the same the whole world over, I wasn't much different, so when they boys chasing after girls they are seeking after what they can get. It becomes a competition to see who's the most successful and they are more than willing to share with their friends just how proud they are of their ‘successes’
But what I about those occasions when it's the young man himself, or a young woman, who has been abused sexually by say an older brother, father or perhaps a close family relation. This is something that they will very rarely ever talked about, even with their best and closest friend. This is the killer, this abuse and the secrecy that follows generates an unhealthy shame of what's been done to them and it festers inside their hearts 24 hours a day 7 days a week. It's something that may go away for an hour or two but somehow always finds a way to come back to the surface of the mind, especially when they can't sleep at night.
The difference between these two types of shame can be described in another way - when we've done something to be ashamed of then there is always a possibility that we can do something to make amends and thus take some of the shame away. But when its us who has been violated, made to feel dirty and ashamed of ourselves, what can we do or go? Such unhealthy shame leads those effected to start believing that they are unlovable, they think that if their secret where to get out then they will be rejected. This makes it difficult for them to make long term friendships, they prefer to end a relationship early rather than face the possibility of themselves being rejected.
Reader, you may think that I'm talking about examples that are infrequent but let me tell you of an occasion one Sunday when a visiting preacher, to the prison I was helping at, tackled this subject. I was at the back of the Chapel looking at the back of the men's heads and more than half of them ended up staring down at the floor by the time he was finished. The hurt ones, those of you in pain reading what I've written here, you know that what I'm talking about is true. But what can be done about this unhealthy shame? that's the question, who can take it away? who can the victim turn too?
The Good News is that nobody needs to continue to hold onto this burden, the solution is found in an experience of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness that overlooks Unhealthy Shame and brings healing and wholeness We need to understand that God is just as sorry as the victim is and he wants to set things right. But, due to his principle of allowing the offender ‘Freewill’, he had to stand by and not interfere. God’s freewill means that he can’t even force healing onto the victim but has to wait for an invitation. Reader, you may not like this truth, but if God were to take away ‘freewill’ from anybody who is about to do wrong, then we would all have a problem. We have all done bad and cruel things at times and to prevent this then God would have had to make us like all of his other creatures - programmed to only follow their particular set of instincts
But for those victims who do seek God’s help and healing there may well be other important handicaps that have first to be sorted out. It’s the subject of their holding onto any ‘Un-Forgiveness’ that was covered in an earlier page (Click here to return to ‘Un-forgiveness’ if required)
Those who suffer from Unhealthy Shame and who do seek healing in the proper way will receive a personal taste of God’s unconditional love, something that all Readers will be invited to experience towards the end of this Web site. It’s a love that’s freely given by a God who already knows every detail of what happened in the past and all the sleepless nights that followed. A God who has waited patiently for an invitation to begin a healing process.
Click here to read about ‘The Inability to Trust Others’ (not yet Completed)
Or Click here to read about ‘Why Does God Allow Suffering?’ (not yet completed)
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Or Click here to move onto the next Chapter ‘What Does the Word ‘Religion’ Mean?’