Shame Begets Stasis

As I am reading through the “Soul of Shame” by Curt Thompson, I found this noteworthy point about shame and how it distorts our lives so much that it leaves us in stasis.

“When shame appears, especially in malignant forms, we are often driven to a felt sense of stasis. Our mind feels incapable of thinking. We may feel literally physically frozen in place when experiencing extreme humiliation, and if we are able to move, we feel like going somewhere we can hide and remain hidden without returning to engage others. We don’t necessarily experience this with minor insults, but there is no question that our ability to move creatively in our mind is slowed. This general idea that shame leads the world ultimately to a point of paralysis, vis-à-vis the movement that is required for creative engagement, will become more important when we explore the nature of God’s movement and its necessity for shame’s healing.”

Helps that Harm (an excerpt)

I was just reading a chapter in Zack Erswine’s book, “Spurgeon’s Sorrows” and what struck me is why sometimes people deal harshly with sufferers. Here is the following:

  1.  We judge others according to our circumstances rather than theirs. “There are a great many of you who appear to have a large stock of faith, but it is only because you are in very good health and your business is prospering. If you happened to get a disordered liver, or your business should fail, I should not be surprised if nine parts out of ten of your wonderful faith should evaporate.”  Jesus teaches us about those who lay up heavy burdens on others but do not lift a finger to help (Matt. 23: 4).

  2. We still think that trite sayings or a raised voice can heal deep wounds. A person “may have a great spiritual sorrow, and someone who does not at all understand his grief, may proffer to him a consolation which is far too slight.” Like a physician who offers a common ointment for a deep wound, we “say to a person in deep distress things which have really aggravated him and his malady too.”  In this regard, Charles teaches us the Scriptures, “Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on soda” (Prov. 25: 20).

  3. We try to control what should be rather than surrender to what is. We must not “judge harshly, as if things were as we would theoretically arrange them, but we must deal with things as they are, and it cannot be questioned that some of the best believers are at times sorely put to it,” even “to know whether they are believers at all.”  The Scriptures teach us about Job’s friends who struggled at this very point.

  4. We resist humility regarding our own lack of experience. “There are some people who cannot comfort others, even though they try to do so, because they never had any troubles themselves. It is a difficult thing for a man who has had a life of uninterrupted prosperity to sympathize with another whose path has been exceedingly rough.”  The Apostle Paul teaches us to comfort others out of the comfort that we ourselves have needed and received (2 Cor. 1: 4). According to the Bible, when we encounter someone who weeps, we too are meant to weep (Rom. 12: 15). When someone encounters adversity they are meant to reflect and meditate, and we with them (Eccles. 7: 14). Without this together-sympathy our attempts to help others can lose the sound of reality. The loss of this sound of reality forges the larger reason for our harshness.

Quite the sobering words as it’s something we’ve done, I know I sure did! Yet when we have suffered, I’m certain the last things desired is being dealt harshly by someone else even with helpful intentions. Let us trust God in giving us His perspective and humility rather than try to solve it ourselves. Jesus suffered too and sympathizes with us rather than try to tell us to snap out of it.