I know firsthand. I did it. For decades. What if we all just admitted we've struggled- or are struggling- and gave each other the grace to come clean, to walk in the light?
When we hold secrets, the shadows seem safe. We long for them, in fact. We're afraid the if we're exposed, others will belittle us, that we'll feel shame, that we'll be seen as frauds, as impostors...
Scripture tells us the opposite is true...
When we walk into the light, we find true connection with others AND we find cleansing. That is, there's something powerful about just letting it go, and part of that something is that we suddenly know- and embrace- each other for who we really are, faults + flaws + all....
1. Read the "Why This Page?" section if you're looking for an overview.
2. Listen to My Story on the podcast. You can start anywhere, but may find it helpful to review the first episode. You can listen on this website, iTunes, Google, or any podcast provider. The most recent 3 episodes are linked below.
3. Read others' stories. You'll find that you're not alone. Anything you've struggled with, others have, too.
4. As your ready, share your story. We'd love to hear from you. Whether your story is resolved or whether your knee deep in it, cleansing + community can happen now.
For years- probably a decade or more- my wife told me I needed to share my story with others.
“There’s power in it. And healing,” she encouraged. “Your words will set people free.
She felt certain that owning my story would set me free, too.
The problem was that my story was… well… I didn’t want to confront it. I didn’t want to admit what was there, buried somewhere between all the pages. In order to share your story with others, you’ve got to admit that it is, in fact, your story…
Parts of it were hurtful, painful, and even illegal. Parts of it were embarrassing. They were at the time, anyway.
I was afraid that in sharing it I would suddenly find myself not accepted but rejected. And, as you’ll see, relationships have been a fragile thing for me. I didn’t want to deal with the “distance” with which people often inflict punishment when you disappoint them. Rather than dealing with with truth- and moving into the light- I was content to live in the shadows.
As such, I got cozy there. I made my home there in the dark for decades.
Trouble is, there’s no freedom in the places we hide- just a lot of fear. Whereas we think that walking into the light causes fear and that living in the hidden places provides safety, the opposite proves true.
If you flip all the way to the back of your Bible you discover that what most of us have hoped for actually comes true: good triumphs over evil. That is, things work out…
Here’s what’s interesting, though. The victory isn’t claimed by strategy or brute force. Or theological arguments. Nor is it the result of Jesus’ work alone.
(I know. That last sentence almost sounds heretical. I’ll back it up…)
The Scripture is clear that we overcome the enemy by two things (see Revelation 12:11 NKJV):
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.”
Notice the short list:
The blood of Jesus paid for sin. His blood makes healing possible. His blood brings emotional freedom and deliverance from bondage. We overcome when we make His blood real to us- when it becomes part of who we are and what we do. In the same way that the Israelites had to apply the blood of their lamb to their doorposts at the Passover, so also must we apply the blood of Jesus to our lives…
Now, the second point in the verse, the “word of your testimony.” Or, to say it another way, the “word of your story.” When we, in this present moment, live the application of Jesus’ past work and talk about what He has done for us, something incredible happens. Not only do we experience His freedom, but others are awakened to the possibility for themselves and they are given access to that same power- particularly as we reveal our story.
Rabbis in Jesus’ day taught that stories were powerful. Particularly stories of God’s power and provision. That’s why you find repeated encouragements throughout the Scripture for parents to repeat the stories of God’s work in their lives to them (see Exodus 12:26, Deuteronomy 6:20, Joshua 4:21).
In telling the story, they weren’t just imparting information, they were delivering inspiration and empowerment! You see, rabbis believed a person’s story of redemption carries the same power as the original event that created the story- each time the story is retold.
Did you catch that?
When God does something amazing, His power is obviously present. But it doesn’t end there. When we declare what He just did, the same power is unleashed anew and is available to everyone who hears the story!
… hearing the personal description of how God moved on their behalf encouraged you that He might do the exact same thing for you.
For years I was afraid of what might happen if I actually dared to share my story, too. I was afraid others would shun me; I was afraid my wife would disown me. I was convinced that, in the end, it would just be me and my story, standing there all alone.
The truth is that the Accuser always accuses. Always has. Always will. Long after the payment for sin has been made, he continues accusing. Until his dying day, he’ll continue escalating the chatter. Or, at least, he’ll try to.
Dig long enough, and you can find something on anyone, right? In my case, you wouldn’t need to dig too deep or push too hard.
What’s the path forward?
Ironically, freedom isn’t found in burying the clutter deeper. That just takes the roots deeper and makes them stronger. No, freedom is found in bringing everything to the surface, right there where everyone can see it.
Sounds scary, doesn’t it?
Again, freedom isn’t found in hoping that no one finds out. Freedom is found when there’s nothing more to hide.
1 John 1:7-9 is a passage that’s come to mean a great deal to me (NIV):
“…if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
This promise in Scripture tells us that when we walk in the light (i.e., the open), two things happen: cleansing and community. Let me talk briefly about each:
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Want to share, etc... come out of the dark, walk into the light...