“I’m feeling a lot of shame.” I was sitting in the office of a Christian counselor, in the aftermath of discovering my husband’s adultery. She had asked me to describe my feelings.
“You mean humiliation?”
“No, I mean shame.” I wondered if the counselor knew the meaning of shame, but I didn’t want to offend her, “I’m sure you know what shame is, but just so you know that I know what it is, shame is when you feel guilty even though you didn’t do anything wrong. It often happens when you are closely associated with someone else’s guilt.”
She smiled. “Weeelllll … one way to make the shame go away …,” – dramatic pause and pointed look – “would be to not separate from him … and not tell anyone what he did.”
Sadly, that counselor’s advice was the opposite of the truth. Shame, like most cold-blooded reptiles, thrives in dark, cold, slimy places – secret places. Turn on the light and shame will slither away.
Shame is a lie that comes from the Father of Lies. Satan always speaks through lies and shame is one of his microphones. When we keep the cause of the shame a secret, it’s like keeping a Bluetooth headset in our hearts – with Satan speaking through the other end of the line.
But as soon as we bring the secret into the light – whether it’s our own sin or what has been done to us – healing can begin.
Secrets destroy the secret keeper.
And enable the perpetrator.
The secret keeper protects her perpetrator from consequences, enabling him to continue in his sin. At the same time, the secret keeper is kept in a prison, where shame eats away at her heart.
A truly repentant perpetrator would want to bring his sin into the light – you can’t have repentance without confession.
Sadly, that Christian counselor is not alone in her beliefs and tactics. When an adultery victim tells her story, “Let’s cover this up,” is the unfortunate first response of many – Pastors, Counselors, and well-meaning friends alike.
We need to promote a Christian culture that provides a safe place for adultery victims to bring their pain into the light.
p.s. – I am using the pronouns “he” and “she” as they apply in my story. Women can also be adulterers/abusers and men can also be victims or secret keepers.