Shame: The Clinging Black Web

In the 2007 movie Spider-Man 3, there is a vivid picture of how darkness can overtake us. Tobey Macguire’s character, Peter Parker, is vengeful and angry about his uncle’s death and this alien symbiote attaches to Peter during his sleep and brings out his dark side. After realizing later that the symbiote costume is changing him in really bad ways, he tries to remove it. The visual of this scene is powerful. He is physically trying to rip this black web off of him, but its grip is incredibly strong. When the vibrations of the church bell releases the symbiote, Peter is finally free, but it falls on the next vengeful person who embraces it completely.

While we may not have an alien symbiote attach to us in our sleep, we do have lies and other sin that seek to ensnare us with their black web. We cannot remove them on our own. Shame, once it burrows into our heart, will cling tightly until a greater truth cuts it free. Often, we cringe at the thought of having to be cut free, because we know it will hurt. I know, though, that an even bigger part of us longs for freedom, longs for the black web to be released from us.

My husband and I have been on a journey of working through some hard but holy things.  Things that God is trying to root out of both of our hearts, things that seem to be wrapped around so tightly that the process of uprooting is painful. We know that this uprooting is necessary if we say that we truly desire to walk in the Light, that we desire to be more like Him, to be rooted in Him alone.

Shame causes distance because it likes to be hidden. My husband and I have found that the more we turn to each other in those moments, the less there is for shame to hold on to. It’s a beautiful vulnerability. There is also an expectation that we will be vulnerable with those around us, at appropriate moments.

What do you do, though, when your position overseas makes it difficult to be completely real with those in your community, whether with teammates or co-workers? I found myself in that position seven years ago, when I first moved to Cambodia. I was thrust into a part I wasn’t sure I wanted to play. I was a leader’s wife. At the time, our team was going through some hard times and I was going through my own growing pains—moving from Mongolia to Cambodia, newly married, and now having a husband who was the leader of our team in Cambodia.

I felt like I couldn’t be completely open with them or even my husband as to how difficult that move was. In fact, for the next five years, I was ashamed at how I still didn’t want to be living in Cambodia. I was the leader’s wife for goodness’ sake! Shouldn’t I, of all people, feel comfortable and at home? But yet, I found myself spiraling down more and more each year, the weight of my shame heavy on me. I wasn’t good enough.

When I finally admitted that I needed to go back to America, that WE needed to go back to America, I felt so much guilt. I was taking my husband away from a job that he found great satisfaction and purpose in. I was confronted time and time again in the months before our departure with how much people would miss him, would miss us. In so many ways, he was the perfect fit for that position. And here I was, “taking him away.” Boy, did I struggle with that. Everyone kept telling us that it was the right decision, but it didn’t make it any easier.

Now, a few months after being back, I have felt a release from that guilt, from that shame. I realized it wasn’t a weight I was meant to carry. My husband reminded me over and over that although it wasn’t a move that he would have chosen on his own, he knew that it was meant for his good as well.

So I’m wondering what black webs do you find yourself in right now? Are you finding it hard to rip off? Or do you have enough perspective to see that “symbiote” of shame inching near you and you can crush it with truth before it attaches itself to you? I pray that we will be women who can run to the One who bore ALL shame on our behalf. It is not a weight we are meant to carry, friends.

Photo Credit: “The Wanderer’s Eye Photography” via Compfight cc

3 Comments

  1. Amy Young October 29, 2014

    Danielle, so many thoughts in response to your words. First, thank you. You are NOT alone being a spouse who doesn’t like the host country as much as the other spouse. Though single, I’ve known plenty of couples who have had similar experiences to yours … and I will say, as an outsider watching, I’m sorry they have to be on this difficult path for both. I don’t think it’s for lack of trying, praying, or wanting — but shame can make us believe these lies! Again, thanks for sharing this piece of yourself with us!

  2. T October 29, 2014

    I’m sitting here considering how our shame over our feelings can often stop us from actually being able to grieve well.  When I was new overseas, I was in an environment that seemed to say that successful workers or even maybe true believers wouldn’t be bothered much by the things that hurt me and deeply affected me.  I think we were supposed to just get on with things.  I really don’t want to make our newer colleagues feel that way.  Last summer, I attended the Breathe Conference in Switzerland (Catalyst International), and had 7 counseling sessions…we covered a lot of grieving over stuff in the past…that I probably hadn’t dealt with due to being ashamed that it bothered me.  I’ve kind of lost my point, but maybe I am just wanting to encourage us not to be too ashamed to take notice and grieve over pain and loss as it comes.  Better than trying to cover 15 years in 7 days of counseling 😉

  3. Christine October 30, 2014

    Reminds me of Eustace becoming a dragon in C.S.Lewis’ Narnia series.  The process of becoming “undragoned”  was so very painful.  Living with the shame may be more appealing because it may seem to be less painful.

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