I've Had More than Enough of Being Held in Contempt

I’ve Had More than Enough of Being Held in Contempt

Ive had more than enough of being held in contempt, but when I know divine approval, I can rise again.  


It was like they were at the bottom of the pecking order and being held there.

People had contempt for them.

The word ‘contempt’ is one we don’t often use.

To be ‘held in contempt’, in a general sense, simply means that a person is despised or strongly disapproved of.

I was recently sent this image of what I believe is to be a young girl.

  • What do you see in the image?
  • What is her story?
  • Why is she there?

Visual art is interesting as it connects with something of what the artist sees and hopes to convey and what you as the viewer joins with.

I don’t know who the artist is, so I cannot give credit to their expression.

But above this image, when it was sent to me, were the words:

‘Every time I address something that bothered me, I became the problem’ 

I don’t know if these were the words of the artist or someone else, but I know the feeling.

The feeling of being made the problem. Of people not addressing their own issues.

Of a scorning, mocking, and a belittling of that small inner child.

Of being held in contempt.

The child retreats, falls to the floor, backs into a corner and gets swallowed up.

But into this story, I see someone coming and sitting beside that small child and giving an assurance that they are not alone.

I’ve had more than enough of contempt

An ancient songwriter pens these words

To you I lift up my eyes,
    O you who are enthroned in the heavens!

As the eyes of servants

    look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maid
    to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
    until he has mercy upon us.

Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
for we have had more than enough of contempt.

Our soul has had more than its fill
of the scorn of those who are at ease,
of the contempt of the proud. Psalm 123.

The psalmist writes about the weight of being held in contempt. Invisible arms holding them down and constricted.

They go to the place of being a servant. Looking for provision from the one they serve. The master and mistress. The masculine and feminine.

The one where their true source of identity comes from.

Maybe they have done something wrong and they feeling the coldness of justice – getting what you deserve.

Maybe they haven’t done anything wrong at all, yet people have dumped justice on them.

Yet they come back to their master/ mistress looking for mercy – not getting what they deserve.

  • Can you take me out of the jail of contempt that I am in?
  • Can you look at me not as a prodigal son but simply as a servant?
  • Can you affirm me in some kindly parental way?

The strongest bonds of contempt

I think the strongest bonds of contempt that we have don’t come from others. They come from ourselves.

We self condemn.

We self scorn.

We have expectations of ourselves that can never be fully met within ourselves.

So over time we wrap ourselves with chains of heavy self loathing that were never meant to be there.

Then others come along and seem to want to add chains. To ‘keep us in our place’.

They scorn the faltering dance steps. They throw contempt at our being different. They want us to stay the same and in a box that they are comfortable with.

To you I lift up my eyes

Where do your eyes go?

Where do you give your attention?

I personally have walked paths where others have scorned me. They have contempt in their hearts towards me.

Maybe, like the Psalmist says, they are ones that have a sense of being ‘at ease’ and are ‘proud’.

But where does one give one’s attention to when the rotten tomatoes are being thrown? When the stones are being picked up to pummel you to death. (Think the martyrdom of Stephen Acts 7:54-8:2)

To you I lift up my eyes,
    O you who are enthroned in the heavens!

The Psalmist sings us to focus on God, who knows all and forgives all.

There is no such word as ‘Contempt’ in God’s dictionary.

Release from contempt

  1. Release the bonds of self contempt you have placed around yourself. Give them to God. God doesn’t like their creation to have heavy chains around them.
  2. If people are holding you in a sense of contempt and scorn, understand that this may say more about them than about you.
  3. Daily, get up from being a stooped down child and recognise that you have the master/ mistress divine approval to dance and be free. You see, it was never about you and them, anyway (Mother Teresa).

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Quotes to consider

  • People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
    If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
    If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies. Succeed anyway.
    If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you. Be honest and frank anyway.
    What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight. Build anyway.
    If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
    The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow. Do good anyway.
    Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
    You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God. It was never between you and them anyway. Mother Teresa
  •  Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner. Lao Tzu 
  • Real encouragement occurs when words are spoken from a heart of love to another’s recognized fear. Larry Crabb
  • God’s forgiveness toward me and my forgiveness toward another are like the voice and the echo. Dennis and Matthew Linn 
  • When grace enters a room we should begin to dance but, sadly, more often than not we let some little thing, some minor mosquito bite, blind us to grace’s presence. Ronald Rolheiser  
  • If it is true that forgiveness is the most therapeutic fact in all of life, then guilt must be the most destructive. We are simply not built for it David Seamands
  • To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you. C.S. Lewis

Questions to answer

  1. What did you see in that picture of the little girl?
  2. What would God as a kind master/ mistress say to that little girl?
  3. Is someone still holding you in contempt? That must take a lot of energy for them to hold you there. Are you giving them some sort of internal permission slip to do this?

Formation exercise

  • Write a story about that little girl and what would restore her to life

Further reading

How to Stand Firm when the Rotten Tomatoes are Thrown

How to Stop Being the Scapegoat. Six Keys

To ‘Turn the other cheek’ mean I have to keep taking abuse?

Barry Pearman

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash


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