Obstacles to Intimacy Series
~Exploring God’s Gift of Intimacy~
In the Obstacles to Intimacy Series, we discussed Obstacle #1: Sex Addiction, Tips & Tools to Overcome Obstacle #1, Obstacle #2: Intimacy Anorexia, How We Become Intimacy Anorexics, Reactive Intimacy Anorexia, The Anorexia Cycle, Tips & Tools to Overcome Obstacle #2, Obstacle #3: The Offended Heart, The Victim/Victor Cycle, Living IN Offense, and Living ON Offense.
The Physical Manifestation of Offense
The word bitterness comes from the Greek word “pikria”. It means an inward attitude that is so bitter, it can produce a scowl on your face. Bitterness can physically change your appearance and disposition.
Many of us may have met someone who fits this description. You may have encountered people who no matter what you do or say that is warm or friendly, respond as though they have had the worst day of their life. Their distorted disposition and physical appearance actually match their mood.
My husband believes this character is a good depiction of the physical manifestation of an offended heart. In the story, this character is constantly looking for his “precious”, which is a ring that causes him more harm than good. It is actually a burden for him to carry when he possess it.
Much like the story of Gollum’s precious ring, we all protect our own meaning of preciousness – our own bitterness and resentment toward others – our own offended heart.
Unfortunately, for some of us, we may have become like this character, who is rather physically unattractive. By clinging to his precious, what once was a nice handsome hobbit has become something almost physically unrecognizable. Instead of looking full of life, he looks like he is near death, completely unhealthy.
God may view those of us with an offended heart in a similar light. Granted, we may not appear as physically unattractive or as unhealthy as Gollum externally, our inward heart attitude may be extremely unattractive as God sees it.
The majority of the characters in this story are in one way or another connected to finding the location of this ring. Similarly, many who are offended share their offense with others. It becomes a breeding ground of deception to ensnare others into its vices.
Codependent behaviors also rear its ugly head in this environment. If I become offended and begin spewing out negative thoughts, feelings and behaviors, my family may too become defensive and join right in.
As you have seen in the previous blog posts, there is a very similar process many individuals go through when they experience an offense.
Offense leads to…betrayal.
Betrayal leads to…hate.
Hate leads to…murder.
Emotional Murder (Intimacy Anorexia)
Once hate has been watered in the soil of our heart, it can blossom into the same thing Cain experienced – a desire for revenge. When we read the term murder, many of us are appalled thinking we would never want to do physical harm to another person. However, in our heart at war, we don’t even have to cause physical damage to another person.
Beth Moore, a popular Bible teacher, refers to this as emotional murder. In our counseling practice, we refer to this as intimacy anorexia. It is when you withhold yourself from another person (physically, emotionally, sexually or spiritually) or you just cut yourself off from another individual without notice.
I once had a friendship that lasted only a few short months. We had recently moved to Colorado, she and I had become close friends in a short period of time. We enjoyed getting together with our kids and had similar interests. She and I got along so well, it had seemed like I had known her forever. It was what seemed to be like a sisterhood friendship. Until one day when she asked me what I thought about how she had handled a situation with her husband who struggled with sex addiction and intimacy anorexia. When I provided my honest feedback, I had offended her, which hurt her deeply. After one phone call and an alarming e-mail written by her and her husband, the bridge was burned and the relationship was over. As quickly as this person came into my life, she also stepped out of my life. Even though I had tried to apologize and repair the damage I had caused, this individual was no longer willing to work on the relationship to keep it alive. In her mind, it was an unforgivable offense and not worth her time to work through our confrontation to restore the relationship.
In our practice, we see this often in couples as well. One betrays the other through sexual addiction or intimacy anorexia, and the one who has been offended has already moved into the hate stage of offense. They are no longer willing to work toward resolution. They may even attend an intensive with us; however, in their heart, they already know they do not want the relationship to succeed.
In both these cases, I believe the situation can be referred to as emotional murder. Some may refer to this as a burned bridge. Others may experience this as intimacy anorexia. Regardless, they have emotionally cut someone out of their life for good.
In 1 John 3:15, it states, “Anyone who hates his brother or sister is a MURDERER, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.” The language in this passage is quite strong – offensive actually. If you hate another person, you are a murderer. As we all know, murderers will not inherit the kingdom of God.
As you can see offense can lead to betrayal. Betrayal can lead to hate, and hate can lead to murder. This is the trap or bait the enemy places before us when we feel that prick of offense in our spirit.
Don’t Do the Work of the Enemy
When we harbor offense and unforgiveness in our heart, we are actually doing the work of the enemy. Oftentimes, my husband will be working with a client who continues to accuse, blame and criticize their partner relentlessly. He will often ask them who they serve – who is their spiritual dad so to speak. They will generally respond by indicating God. Then, he proceeds to ask, “Then why are you doing the work of the enemy?” We need to be careful not to fall into the trap the enemy places in front of us multiple times a day. Remember, the enemy uses deception to lure us to the bait of offense, and many of us fall prey without any hesitation.
In closing the Obstacles to Intimacy blog series, I would like to include a confession. If this blog series has had any impact on you, in the comfort of your own home without anyone else around, speak these confessions out loud.
- I choose to live an abundant life in Christ Jesus!
- I am a giver, not a taker.
- I choose to surrender my desire for self-preservation.
- I choose to surrender my unforgiveness.
- I choose to surrender my bitterness.
- I choose to surrender my accusation, blame and criticism toward others and circumstances.
- I have a heart at peace.
- I am no longer a victim. I am a VICTOR!
- God can use my pain for His glory.
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Kerry Schortzman is the Director of Operations at Transformed Hearts Counseling Center as well as an author and speaker. She has traveled the road of recovery alongside her husband through the wildfires of intimacy anorexia. She has a heart and passion to see healing and restoration in relationships and marriages as well as to bring public awareness to eliminate sex and human trafficking. Kerry has been married since 1998 and lives in Colorado with her husband and four daughters. She and Cory have been seen on the CBS Early Show, Inside Edition, and ABC Good Morning America, Fox 21 News, and TLC/Discovery discussing the harm of sex addiction and the joys of recovery.
Cory’s books include: Out of the Darkness, Into the Light the Workbook, Into the Light the Steps, Ashes to Beauty the Steps, 301 Dating Ideas, 301 Conversational Ideas, 301 Ways to Say I Love You, 301 Ways to Love Your Children & 301 Recovery Tools & Tips.