Archives For Shame & Contempt

October Baby

Jeff Olson —  January 31, 2013 — Leave a comment

Over the weekend I watched the film October Baby. It tells the story of a college-aged girl named Hannah whose world is turned upside down after she discovers she is the adopted survivor of a failed abortion.

This story about a girl whose life almost wasn’t is a powerful film on forgiveness. Hannah had to wrestle through strong bitter feelings and forgive several people before she could move on with her life.

The film’s grace-filled, non-condemning treatment of Hannah’s biological mother, who had attempted to abort her, was also a surprising breath of fresh air. Women who suffer the heartache of having had an abortion may find watching this film to be a very healing experience.

Something Hannah’s adoptive dad shared with her near the end of the movie also stuck with me. Hannah’s discovery and search for her birth mother caused a lot of tension between the two of them, which he often didn’t handle well. As they stood next to each other at the graveside of the twin brother Hannah never knew she had, her dad confessed,

“It’s not that I don’t trust you. It’s that I’m trying honestly to learn to trust God again.”

Leaving things we care about in God’s capable and loving hands is a most important lesson for us all to learn.

Shame is one of the most effective tools of the Evil One for sabotaging meaningful relationships. Shame has to do with our fear of being seen as flawed and deficient and then be discarded instead of loved. God comes along and offers us unconditional love as His remedy to our shame.

Shame was one of the first feelings that Adam and Eve experienced after the Fall in the Garden of Eden. The fear of exposure, of being seen as flawed and then being discarded as unlovable is a devastating feeling that not only shuts down the heart, but effectively sabotages any possibility for a person to give or receive love.

Cutting and self-harming disorders are on the rise. There are many who feel a profound sense of relief as they see their blood flowing from wounds they have inflicted on themselves. Wracked by deeper pain they can’t control, they settle for self-inflicted relief that they can control. In their minds some control is better than no control.

Life is hard. And if we’re honest, it hurts living in a world that is broken. Sometimes the pain and losses simply pile up to the point that we just can see over them. When our vision for what’s valuable and important to us is obscured by the pain and losses that have stacked up around us, no longer living in the middle of the chaos can become attractive.

When we are truly honest with ourselves, we are all painfully aware of our failings and inadequacies that leave us vulnerable to rejection. The fear of exposure leads to shame, and shame is one of the most powerful forces for shaping human behavior. How we learn to handle shame will determine how we respond in relationships with others.

Because of past sexual abuse, many victims question whether they will ever be able to freely enjoy their sexuality without shame or feeling dirty. Admittedly, while sexual intimacy will often be a struggle within marriage, abuse can’t destroy their potential for delighting in true intimacy that releases a couple to more fully enjoy their sexuality together.