Shame Perverts Intimacy

I recently read Donald Miller’s book, Scary Close. In his book, Miller is transparent about his journey to true intimacy. But what is intimacy? Our culture has been showering us with perverted versions of intimacy for many years, resulting in most of us having no idea what true intimacy looks like.

If you haven’t experienced intimacy, you don’t know what it means to be intimate. That’s why I really appreciated Scary Close. Miller admitted he was very weak in that area. His honesty helped me put words to my own problems with intimacy.

I knew that something was not right with me but I couldn’t figure out what it was. I thought I was pretty good at reading and showing my ‘feelings’ but something else was holding me back.

Throughout this book, Miller shows how shame is a barrier to intimacy. Shame was holding him back from intimacy, and as I continued to read it became clear to me that my shame held me back as well.

My shame started when I was very young. I saw pornography when I was 5 years old. As I became addicted I brought many of my young friends into this bondage. Intuitively I knew it was wrong, but the secrecy made it even more exciting. As time went on I started to learn more about the dangers of pornography, but I was hooked. I was losing sleep, losing friends, and afraid of losing more if anyone found out. I knew God loved me and I knew my parents loved me, but in this trauma I felt unworthy of their love. So I kept hiding from everyone around me.

That shame experience is what made me decide that I needed to be an actor. I thought I needed to put on a show to get others to like me and accept me. So I started acting in all of my relationships; I became almost a completely different person depending on who I was around. I knew all the right answers to fit in with the church people, I worked out often and hard enough to fit in with the athletes, I also sang and listened to enough variety of music to fit in with the artistic crowd.

I never knew that I had been acting out of unacknowledged shame for all these years.

My shame told me that I didn’t deserve to let go, that no one could love me if they knew what I was hiding. Shame ruined relationships because I didn’t know how to let people in without trying to perform for their acceptance. And I suspect Donald Miller and I are not the only ones.

Shame drove me away from being transparently honest, and away from being free of my shame.

Consequently, my view of intimacy was warped.

Shame breeds fear. And if we’re being honest, most of us live life afraid: of others’ opinion, of change, of surrender, and so on.

Miller’s transparency helped me see that fear and shame don’t cultivate intimacy.

Scary Close reminded me that the Bible has a lot to say about what intimacy looks like. The Apostle John had experienced true intimacy with God. He details his experience in 1st John, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” (1 John 4:18 ESV)

That passage is so freeing. God never wanted us to operate out of shame and fear, but out of love.

Shame destroys us.

But God has other plans; He sent Jesus to die for us according to His great love (Rom. 6:23, Eph 2:4-5). He wants us to open ourselves to His redeeming love so that we can experience true intimacy with Him and with others.

God’s perfect love covers our shame and frees us to live a free life for His glory.

How did you break free of your shame?


You can order Scary Close here 


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