What I learned confessing my biggest secret
READ TIME: 10 MINUTES
Last week, I wrote about the worst skeleton in my closet.
It was the big secret that loomed over me for years after it happened. The ugliest sin that bore the heaviest weight. That was the exact thing God wanted me to publish on the world wide web.
It's been 7 days since, and here's what I've learned:
Lesson #1: Brokenness is a burden I'm not meant to carry.
To be frank, I am gobsmacked that people were so shocked by that post. I didn't know that everyone didn't know!
I thought the scarlet letter "A" was pinned to my chest. I thought EVERYONE could see the tattoo on my forehead that read BROKEN in big, bold, black letters.
What I found out is that people didn't know I used to be a walking disaster... Whodathunkit?! Not me! In the last few years, God has transformed my life from the trainwreck I was to the person I am today. I thought it was evident, but turns out people think I actually have my life together. Y'all, I'm messed up. I don't come from a whole, loving, middle-class family with good relationship skills, finances, an annual vacation together, or even regular meals together. I come from brokenness which produced brokenness.
When I say my life is "by God's grace", I'm not quoting the Bible. I am facedown, full of humility confessing that I should be dead by now, but God has continually transformed me, even after every single time I turn back to sin + pain + bitterness!
I dropped out of college, but God put me back in it and now I have a degree.
I dropped my godly friends for bar friends, but God restored those relationships.
I tried to kill myself, but God gave me a new life that I actually LOVE to live!
I turned to alcohol to numb the shame of sin, but God removed both the sin and the shame.
I had an affair, but God redeemed my sexuality. Now I have a good, godly marriage to the second most amazing man who ever walked the earth (besides Jesus).
I declined to pay a $10K credit card bill, but God restored my credit score.
I tried to cement my bum in a job I hated just for the paycheck, but by God's grace I'm a writer using my gifts and talents for God's glory!
If there is any true sentiment of all that I've learned in my 28 years of living, it's this:
No matter how awful you are, no matter what you do, no matter who is opposed to you rising up, no matter what... The "but God!" moments will be beyond your wildest expectations. He is the REDEEMER, the RESTORER, and the one who loves to show His glory in our lives.
If my life isn't proof of that, I don't know what is. It hasn't been all peaches and cream, but God is faithful. He will do what He promises to you. He will always be true to His Word:
You will have life to the fullest
You will have hope and a good future
You will become a faith warrior like those whom you read about in Scripture
...if you will live in His grace. If you try to make those things happen on your own, you won't be able to. But if you will let God get the glory through the "but God!" moments, it will force you to take on God-sized faith challenges that require His miraculous workings. Your faith will grow, and He will be glorified in your life.
Lesson #2: Fear is a burden I'm not meant to carry.
I didn't recklessly decide to announce the affair on the internet out of some twisted sense of relief from something that was lording over me. It wasn't relieving — it was terrifying. I was literally shaking when I pressed that red button labeled "Publish".
Typically, after I publish a post, I keep my phone nearby so I can respond to comments as they roll in. With this one, I tucked my phone into the deep crevice of my couch and tried distracting myself staring blankly at some TV show. I was still quite fearful that I would look at my phone that night and see a bunch of hateful comments, messages, and maybe even some phone calls from aghast friends.
So what makes a person admit her biggest secret to the whole world?!
God told me to surrender the fear of alienation to Him. He told me it would help people — even though I couldn't focus on that past all the fear. When I told Him I was scared of being abandoned and unwanted by even my closest friends, He told me that He would never abandon me.
I had to decide if I was going to let fear be the lord of my life or if I would surrender it to God. I also needed to decide if I was living for an audience of friends and followers or if I was living for an audience of one. When I hit "Publish", I was still filled with trepidation. Emotionally, I was fearful, but I knew I had to take a step to defeat that fear. I needed to very definitively decide who I wanted to be my Lord. I thought to myself, "I may be alienated for this, but God will say to me, 'Well done, good and faithful servant', because I obeyed Him."
So then I hit publish. And I got a better response to that post than anything else I've ever written.
The fear of alientation? Turns out that was the enemy spewing lies trying to keep the darkness of fear a permanent fixture of my life. I found myself more connected to so many people on a deeper level than before. People whom I've lost contact with sent me DM's. People whom I've felt like I was hiding this from -- now they know my reality.
And more over, what I learned was this:
Being seemingly perfect is more alienating than being flawed.
Exposing my flaws made me more approachable in other people's eyes. It changed people's perception from "Miss Goody-Good" to "She's just like us". Which I am! I SO AM! I just had no clue people actually thought I was good!? I'm still tripped up over that...
So now when you look at this gram of me saying, "by His grace", maybe you see it with different eyes. Maybe now you see the testimony of my entire life summed up into one phrase. Maybe now you see: "Wow, her life really is by God's grace!"
Lesson #3: Secret sin is a burden I'm not meant to carry.
That secret sin was the skeleton in my closet that haunted me for years. If I would have left it there, the fear of exposure would have continued to torment me. For so many years, I kept my head down out of fear of my biggest sin being exposed. I had nightmares of being called onto a stage and being revealed as a hypocritical fraud. I had nightmares of the scarlet letter being tattooed on my forehead.
Fear will haunt you if you allow it to. If you will turn on the lights amidst the darkness... If you will expose the darkness to the light of God... If you will invite God into the recesses of your heart... Whether it's a skeleton in the closet or an addiction you're battling right now. Whether you are currently sleeping with someone who isn't your spouse, or you're scared of the doctor's report. Whatever is darkness in your life, invite God into it and watch Him overcome the darkness.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
Bring God into your darkness. Allow Him to call out the sin in your life. By His grace, confess it to Him. By His mercy, receive forgiveness. Walk in light again. You are never too seeped in darkness and the works of darkness so badly that you can't return to the light. God's invitation to be in every part of your life -- good, bad, and ugly -- is always there. His hand is always reaching to save you. Will you let Him?
There's a verse that came to my mind as I was prayer journaling about this past blog post. It is one you've heard often if you're in Christian circles. A friend of mine even has it tattooed on her!
She is clothed with strength and dignity. She laughs without fear of the future.
This morning, when that came to mind, I literally started laughing!! God is funny, isn't He? I can now laugh without fear of the future, and He brought that verse to my mind just to give me a good laugh.
The thing that should have ruined me was the very thing I needed to expose to be set free!
Is there something heavy in your life that you've been gripping onto? Secret sin of your past or present? Someone's outlook on your life that has burdened you for years? Your own unbelief in God's restorative power?
Release it! Let it go!! If you want to walk in freedom...or run in freedom...or even skip in freedom, you will need to let it go. The terrible thing about sin is that not only does it affect our relationship with God in the moment. By sinning, we make the choice to handle our circumstances our own way, without God's guidance. But thereafter, every time you remember that sin, the enemy whispers in your ear, "God doesn't want you any more. You messed up too big. You have to fix it yourself now." And that couldn't be further from the truth! Here's the truth straight out of The Word:
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:8
If your sin has caused you to feel distanced from God as if you're the little measly sinner on earth, and He's far off in the Heavenlies with the holy people, meditate on this:
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
He is near. His arms are open toward you. He is dying to forgive you -- He literally died for your forgiveness, whether or not you ask for it. He took the first step toward you when you were raging against his love. He didn't hesitate to come running toward you! All you need to do is open your heart and say, "God, help me."
If you are so burdened by sin that you have no other words, just start with this: "God, help me."
I can promise you because of my own confession that He is willing and waiting to swoop in and save the day. It may not be on your timeline — I definitely didn't know the hard road ahead when I first began this journey OUT of sexual sin — but He will redeem your life from sin.
Years ago, when I was in bed with someone else's husband, I knew better. I did. Nobody — even those with zero religious background — thinks it's okay to have an affair. But I didn't think God could fix me. If you think that, please listen to me as the person who was where you are and is now free from it:
You can choose today to radically change your life.
All it takes is that first step of saying: "God, help me."
Years ago, I could not have imagined the freedom that I walk in today. But one day I realized I was no longer burdened by the heavy weight of that sin. I wasn't quite at the point of confessing it on the web...which I think is my unique responsibility as a public writer, but I confessed it to a couple of close friends. And when I realized I was really free of the weight of sin and shame, I did celebratory cartwheels through my house just from the thrill of freedom!
I trudged through life for years with secret sin weighing me down. My ambitions, my spirits, and my personality were so burdened by it. My sense of self-worth -- that took the toughest hit. But today, I am free! It's not just a feeling of freedom, though that's nice, too. I know in my heart that I am free because Jesus paid the balance for the sin I did. And every sin I will ever do. He's already paid for it. So the choice is up to you and me: Will I continue to try to pay for something I could never afford? Or will I believe in Jesus' power to save me? To heal me. To make me whole. To restore all that was lost. To redeem my life. To give me freedom. To help me walk lightly. To grace me with a marriage I don't deserve.
For most of you reading this, I know it is likely not your story that you had an affair and hid it for years. I know you're likely not as wrecked as I was. But there is sin that is weighing you down. Confess it to the Lord. If you don't know what it is, ask God to reveal it to you. Where in your life is there darkness that is overdue to being exposed to the light of God? What's been weighing you down?
I want you surrendering the burdens you were never meant to carry so you can walk freely. And who knows, maybe one day you'll be doing your own celebratory cartwheels!
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