A reader, Cindy, asked the question on this post (https://tearsinabottle.wordpress.com/2008/08/11/self-contempt-meets-surrender-and-grace/) regarding other-contempt and rather than try and answer it there I decided to write a separate post about it.
Thank you Cindy for your question on other- contempt….although I don’t have it all figured out, I have found that as Jesus continues to uncover and reveal those areas that I keep hidden and don’t want disclosed, as I bring them to Him, exposing the true nature of my heart and the wounds that still need His healing touch, He gently, in love, touches those raw places with His healing balm and brings truth, peace and restoration….. Your question was timely.
Like you Cindy, I too, understood self-contempt very well, but other-contempt is a bit harder to identify I think….perhaps because we don’t really want to take a good, hard look at ourselves. The reasons may be varied, but I wonder if it is because we are afraid we won’t like what we find and maybe even deeper because we fear rejection from our Heavenly Father….we are afraid of being exposed and struggle to trust that His heart for us is good.
It has been said that “contempt” is a form of hatred, whether it be self-contempt or other-contempt……as victims of abuse we know all too well that “shame” is intense and when it afflicts you, you feel exposed and naked.
But did you know that contempt is an emotion as powerful as hatred….contempt is strong enough to cover or numb your feelings of shame.
Contempt hardens the heart by causing us to view others (or ourselves) through a lens of hatred.
As Dan Allender says; “The lens anaesthetizes desire at the same time it negates disappointment. Contempt sneers at desire and sees it as foolish and futile. Cynicism and sarcasm mock the foibles of others in order to gain safety from involvement with frail humanity or an unpredictable God.”
Shame leaves us feeling exposed and unprotected, vulnerable, weak and powerless….shame leaves us wanting to protect and guard ourselves and hatred or contempt gives you the feeling of power so that you don’t have to feel anxious, needy or dependant.
Often we will show contempt for others by using resentment and/or anger to build walls so that others will not see our pain and shame if they get too close to us.
Contempt for others is an expression of shame that says “I hate you”…. it doesn’t matter whether or not we say it out loud to the other person, other-contempt will eventually manifest itself.
Too often when our shame is exposed to someone else, we become filled with rage….why, because we are terrified of being rejected on the basis of our revealed hearts, so we choose to act in ways that will destroy the relationship.
Contempt is a belittling of the person, of their words, actions or motives, either to their face or behind their backs. When we use all our effort to make the other person look small it is an attempt to make ourselves look significant, important, powerful and in control. Often this will show itself in the tone we use, in our eyes, and in the content of our conversation.
It has been said that the goal of contempt is to discredit and steal dignity so the victor can remain in control, unfazed by any different view of reality.
Here are some ways which other-contempt might look like in relationships, and there are additional ways we can show contempt for others, perhaps some even come to your mind as you are reading this…..
• Do I tend to blame others so that I don’t have to look at myself?
• Do I walk away from someone who may be speaking the truth to me, do I write them off!
• Do I allow others to walk all over me?
• Do I compare myself to others and then feel either inferior or superior?
We need to be vigilant against jealousy and envy when it comes to relationships….God does not want us to compare ourselves with others….but it is a challenge, especially when we haven’t recognized other-contempt.
I believe it was Staci Eldredge who said: “staying in relationship with another person requires first that we stay in relationship with God. He is the only way we can navigate through jealousies, other-contempt, comparisons and hatred that rear their ugly heads or offences from others that prick our vulnerable hearts.”
Most of our healing and change of heart doesn’t always happen instantly, at the moment of our conversion….rather God invites us to walk it out…..He invites us into the process….our journey to get there takes place in our everyday lives…the often muddy, gritty, and stormy here and now. And it is in this place that Jesus comes.
God invites us to join him in the process whereby He heals our hearts, our inner world so He can transform our outer world.
Friends, Jesus loves you….yes, you….the you that has carried this heavy load of baggage….God does not turn His face away from us in our imperfections and weaknesses, neither does He turn His face away when we struggle with contempt for ourselves or others…and He is not surprised….right here, right now, you are loved and pursued and seen by the ONE who sees everything.
Let HOPE rise my friend….it is not too late, it is not too hard, you are not too much or not enough….God’s mercies are new every morning.
Beloved, there is mercy in His eyes even now!!
“Father God, I bring to you my heart that is bound up with other-contempt….it took me a long time to realize that my heart was hard and filled with this emotion…thank you for revealing this to me, whether through others who loved me enough to say the “hard words” or whether it was through your Holy Spirit, either way, thank you for exposing it to me….not to heap more condemnation on me (I know all too well how to do that), not to beat me up or make me feel more shame…but for uncovering this area of wounding so that I can bring it to you, to lay it at your feet, to confess it for what it is…sin against others, sin against you….we are called to love others as we love ourselves, but when we find it so hard to love ourselves it is nearly impossible to love others in a healthy, life giving way….Holy Spirit, bring to our minds those areas in our lives that need to be exposed to your truth….show us where we have wounded others and in doing so brought judgement upon ourselves…as we bring each situation and person to the cross, we ask that you forgive us….forgive us for envy, for jealousy, for critical spirits, and as we lay each person we feel contempt for at your feet we would ask that you replace the hatred and condemnation with truth, peace, love and healing….fill us Jesus with your Holy Spirit….heal those raw places that need your love, restore our relationships, bring peace and love to them…help us to walk in freedom and victory, seeing others through your eyes….seeing ourselves through your eyes….teach us what it means to love ourselves and in turn love others, in a healthy, life-giving way…trusting YOU at all times….
We pray these things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ….the one who loves us with an everlasting love, the ONE who has promised He would never leave us or forsake us….In His name, AMEN!
I would love to hear from you, those who follow my blog- what your thoughts are regarding other-contempt….how has God revealed this area to you? How have you worked through it? Have you found healing from other-contempt?
I thought I would write some posts about anger….anger is a common and normal residual effect of sexual abuse. Often as victims begin healing they experience anger….actually anger was too mild a word for me when I began to face my abuse and heal- what I felt was more like bitterness, rage, hatred and even fury. But its important to understand that for victims recovering, feeling these emotions are normal and healthy. Why, because too often victims deny their anger, repress it or often underestimate its strength, So I will spend some time discussing anger and I hope if you are reading along that you will jump in with your thoughts and experiences.
I have found that in society males and females are taught to handle anger differently. These may be changing but traditionally boys have been encouraged to express anger and aggression. Encouraged to turn their sadness into aggression, turn their fear into anger. If in pain-ignore it and become aggressive.
Whereas little girls have been given different messages tradionally. Lets say a little girl is angry enough to hit her friend, yet her parents most often chide her for her aggression and the girl is encouraged to dissolve into her parents arms and cry. Therefore she learns to deny her feelings of anger and aggression and turn them into expressions of fear and sadness.
These patterns are often carried into adulthood and so women often have a difficult time both experiencing and expressing anger.
There are other reasons that victims avoid their own anger. Perhaps they fear its depth and power, or maybe its helplessness, desire to keep the peace, personal denial or maybe even family denial.
Often anger is mishandled. There are a myriad of defense mechanisms that exist to help a person remain in denial. The following suggestions/reasons are from author John P. Splinter and he states:
Repression-force it from all conscious thought
Suppression- just don’t think about it
Underrateing-Pretend its not significant now that you’re an adult
Rationalization- explain it all away
Theologize-tell yourself that God will make it all go away so you don’t have to deal with it. Or tell yourself that being angry is unchristian
Flight-run away from everything. Perhaps even develop some phobias in self-defence.
I’ll leave off her for now and later discuss some symptoms of mishandled anger.