The Residue of Shame


Forgiveness hits the reset button in life

A few years back TIME magazine wrote an article about the reemergence of Eliot Spitzer, the former governor of New York.  He was known as a man who fought corruption with a vengeance only to be exposed as a regular user of a high dollar prostitution ring.

To make matters worse, to cover his addiction he would send money to shell corporations that funneled the money back to the prostitution ring.  TIME called it…

 …hypocrisy on a scale that was hard to fathom…as if Eliot Ness had been busted for peddling gin from his apartment.

When the news hit the paper his career was over.  Now he is trying to find his way back into politics but the writer of the story wasn’t so sure it could happen.  She said…

To learn that Spitzer was the world’s biggest hypocrite, that he’d thrown it all away to frequent prostitutes, was devastating, a lapse that could never be forgiven.

When she mentioned this to Spitzer this is how he responded…

‘How do you think I feel?’  He said, his eyes welling up. ‘I know exactly how you feel. At one point I stood for something that was important and useful. I was in a place in time where I had a purpose, where it mattered. And then I destroyed it.

The Residue of Shame

Thankfully his wife seemed to forgive him but not without some residue of shame in their relationship.  The article said …

His wife…appears to have forgiven him. ‘I don’t know if you can ever mend something like this, in the sense of repair the canvas so that you never see the tear in the fabric,’  he said. ‘ I’m incredibly lucky to be with a woman who is willing to deal with that tear in the fabric and keep moving forward.’ Eliot Spitzer’s Impossible Mission, by Sheelah Kolhatkar, March 15, 2010, TIME

Spitzer said there would always be a scar in the fabric of his marriage. The writer of the story said that the public would never be able to forgive him. And Spitzer himself said that he destroyed his purpose in life.

As I read this it made me wonder if Spitzer will be defined by his indiscretion for the rest of his life. Will his name be synonymous with hypocrisy and prostitution forever? Will he ever be able to move beyond his mistakes or the shame in his new destiny?

Do Indescretions Have to Define You?

I don’t bring this up to add to Spitzer’s shame but because I’m concerned for those of us who – like Spitzer – have a past that overshadows your present and your future. You have some big time mistakes or failures that haunt you and rob you of God’s best.  I don’t want these failures to define you. I don’t want you trapped in shame and feeling distant from God because that’s not your destiny as one of God’s children. God has something much better for you than that.

I want to talk over the next several posts about God’s forgiveness because I believe that receiving God’s forgiveness is like hitting the “reset” button on your life.

Question: Are there others that come to mind, like Spitzer, who have severely broken trust with the public to the point of never recovering?  Leave your comments below.

  • These posts are taken from my free e-book, Forgiven...once and for all. To receive your free copy subscribe to this blog.
  • Learn more about shame here: Healing the Hurts of Your Past