Why Our "Thorns" Cause Shame
You may have noticed a certain tendency you have, especially when you are under stress. You likely try to fight it but, despite your best efforts, your thoughts and maybe even your actions tend towards this tendency again. I doubt you share the fact that you have this kind of struggle. In fact, many may be surprised… very surprised… if they knew that you did! It may be the last thing that anyone would think you struggle with… and it may be just as surprising to you. What’s more, it may surprise you to know that EVERYONE has such a “thorn” in their life. Your thorn may be judgmentalness, self-centeredness or some kind of addiction, but one thing is for sure… it isn’t pretty!
One of the first references I found to this kind of thorn can be found in the Bible when Paul the Apostle wrote in his Second Epistle to the Corinthians 12:7–9. Yet when he asked God to remove it, his request was denied.
This indicates to me that Paul’s thorn had a purpose. And if his thorn had a purpose, so does yours. We never learn what Paul’s thorn was…what he really struggled with. This also makes me think that such struggles are frequently kept hidden. They are a type of problem that is simply too embarrassing for us to share. This speaks to me of shame.
One thing I have noticed is that something that causes shame in one person, doesn’t in another. There is something about your “hidden tendency” that is very personal. It often seems to go directly against everything you believe in and work hard for. In a word, it seems, “Ungodly.” How can you possibly be a good person and have such “evil” thoughts and tendencies?
Can you see how this way of thinking could destroy your efforts towards continuing your life’s mission? Can you see how continuing on this path might even destroy your sense of who you are? The fear of sharing it will keep you alone in this struggle. But if you were to share it, many would never understand and it may even hurt them, hurt your efforts and cause further pain.
Seeing Through the Shame
But remember - your thorn has a purpose. And, your thorn seems to somehow connect with your life purpose and a strength. It is a wise person’s tendency to be foolish, a beautiful person’s tendency to be ugly and a rich person’s tendency to behave poorly. It is somehow unshakably connected to your life’s purpose and it isn’t going away.
What would happen if your thorn was removed? Would your intelligence turn to wisdom if there wasn’t an internal struggle? Would your beauty bend to the forces of compassion without a personal struggle? Would your wealth serve others or merely serve yourself, if you didn’t struggle like everyone? Would you understand the human condition? Would you be able to relate, or to know the value of love in any relationship? Is it even possible to imagine your greatest gift without the corresponding struggle to ground the gift in its true purpose? In Biblical terms, would it be trying to play God?
Here are a few take-aways:
- Everyone’s strengths provide their greatest challenges - know this.
- Given your life’s purpose and your strength, your challenge will seem to go directly against your life’s purpose - just like everyone else. Use this knowledge to help direct your efforts toward the wisdom you want to acquire, and then share.
- You will tend to keep this challenge secret. There are certain times in certain relationships where sharing this challenge will change lives.
- You may not yet be aware of your challenge, but it is there and will one day make itself known. Unawareness of your thorn leaves you defenseless. Seek out others who have your strengths and may have the wisdom you seek.
- Times of stress will expose your struggle like the stresses of a “midlife crisis” where the value of your generativity must slowly give way to the value of your integrity.
- Relationships and life purpose build resilience as in “Where two or three are gathered…there am I” - The Bible, Matthew 18:20.
- Growthful daily structure, spiritual traditions, spiritually oriented groups, prayer, meditation and maintaining a consistent moment-to-moment intent are all helpful.
- When you slip, investigate the causes, learn, adjust, build your wisdom and share this wisdom with others.
- From time to time you may need to “white knuckle it” but over time you will build resilience and truly prefer not to.
- This tendency will never leave as it is a necessary part of you, forcing you to grow and helping you to connect to others knowing the real meaning of love and compassion.
If you are struggling with shame, consider one of the Oneness Memberships or our soon to be released, “Your Healing Touch” audio series.