The Ancestral Wound: The Home of Shame's Voice

Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen 3:1-5)

"The dark voice accuses God. Everything is colored by its resentment and mistrust. “God just doesn’t want you to be like Him…” Imagine that statement coming from a very lonely, very hurt, very suspicious child. And in this case, the voice is being planted and exploited by our true nemesis.

"The result is our shame. We hide ourselves. And now the hiding place is a dark wound within us, one that lives like a grumble. It is the shame-filled nemesis who now whispers a narrative for our day.

"This voice is stronger in some than others, depending on the depth and severity of the wound. It can also grow stronger, if it is allowed to become the dominant sound in our heads. As Christians, we resist it (sometimes). It puzzles us and shakes any confidence we might have in our own faith. “How can I think such things?” we wonder. You didn’t think them. The words are the voice of something very old (and young) and unattended.

"It is a place that, ironically, requires compassion. It is easy to identify such negative energy as an enemy, and nurture a kind of self-loathing. But self-loathing (of that sort), is easily nothing more than the sound of the voice you have come to loathe. It is a loathing that feeds on itself as a toxic rant rather than bringing about healing."

Fr. Stephen Freeman


Speaking Words of Comfort to My Inner Screaming Child

"I also identified this deep voice as primarily a matter of shame. It is a wound, an injury to the soul and body that feels like abandonment, alienation and pain. In emotional terms, it tends to make us feel worthless. That, in turn, is frequently expressed in anxiety, anger or sadness. This noise can run for days on end, depending on circumstances. …

"Attention does not ignore or run away (this is likely only to increase the volume). Instead, attention “bears a little shame.” And sitting patiently with the brokenness we say to God, “Comfort me, comfort me.” This is the sound of the mother who draws the disquieted child back to her breast. She doesn’t judge. She doesn’t rebuke. She quiets the child by herself being its comfort, its assurance, the affirmation that all is well.

"'It’s ok. All is well. You are not alone. You are not abandoned. All is well,' and I quieted my soul. …

"Anger is useless against shame. The dark thoughts are the sound of Adam talking to himself in the bushes. God comes to comfort him. 'Where are you?'

"'Here I am. Comfort me.'"

Fr. Stephen Freeman


Shame, Vulnerability, Healing

Quoted from Fr. Stephen Freeman

"Shame is the natural response to broken communion. [Kaufman, The Psychology of Shame, 1996, pp. 32-33] The relationship of communion with others is the very essence of safety and comfort. Its most primal expression is the bond between mother and nursing infant. Face-to-face, the child is held and nurtured. There the child is comforted and protected. Every later experience of union draws on this primal experience.
"The first instinct of shame is to look down, to turn the face away and hide. Blood rushes to the face (it “burns with shame”). Shame is the very sacrament of broken communion, the most proper and natural expression of sin. When Christ enters our shame (and bears it), it is as though God Himself stands before us, takes our face in His hands, and turns our eyes back to Him. […]
"In the Ladder of Divine Ascent we hear: “Shame can only be healed by shame.” As difficult as this is for us, it is the place of atonement and exchange that Christ has set. I have been learning recently, however, that to speak of “bearing a little shame” (in the words of the Elder Sophrony) is overwhelming to some. Popular shame researcher and author, Brené Brown, uses the term “vulnerability” when she speaks of confronting and healing shame. Vulnerability, at its core, is nothing other than “bearing a little shame.” It is the willingness to be real, to be authentic with the risk that it entails. This is on the psychological level. There is a deeper level, though we cannot really go there without enduring the psychological first.
"God give us grace to be vulnerable in His presence, vulnerable enough to discover our true selves."

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