Deep, dark secrets. No one has to know. My secrets are not hurting anyone as long as they just stay here with me.
So what’s the point of sharing them? I don’t get it.
Those were my thoughts as I sat across from my sponsor at her patio table one summer morning. I was working on what was probably my tenth cigarette of the hour– smoking like a train because #1, I loved cigarettes, and #2, we were talking about things that took me out of my comfort zone quickly.
We were discussing some things I had never shared with anyone, ESPECIALLY the people I respected the most… my parents. They just happened to be coming into town that day to visit and celebrate with me my one year sobriety birthday. My sponsor looked me in the eye and with a concerned, loving look said, “I think you need to tell your parents about everything. It’s eating your lunch.”
I looked at her straight in the eye and with a tone of determination and authority, said, “No F’ing way in hell.”
In those days, the “F” bomb for me was quite common. I was struggling in my recovery. I was depressed and couldn’t get out of it. After throwing the “F bomb” in her face, she gently said, “Ok, how about this…go home, get on your knees before God, pray about it, and if you still feel this way, don’t talk to them about anything.”
I said, “Ok. I can handle that.” After all, I wasn’t agreeing to anything. Talking to God about it was not a problem at all. I could do THAT!
Walking back in the door of my duplex, I went straight to my bedroom and fell on my knees and started to cry. No…I actually started sobbing…overwhelmed with fear: fear of rejection…rejection from the two people I respected most in this world, full of frustration wondering why this was so important to say… couldn’t I just repent and let my past stay in the past?
“LORD THERE IS NO WAY I CAN DO THIS! IF THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT ME TO DO, YOU HAVE TO GIVE ME THE STRENGTH TO DO IT. I CANNOT DO THIS! THERE IS JUST NO WAY!
Leaning against my dresser, I felt hopeless. Then, I heard it…coming from the kitchen: my sobriety song…the one I’d listen to when I felt discouraged.
My ipod was on the charger and I’d left it on shuffle that morning. It had been playing all morning from the time I’d left my house to go to my sponsor’s, until now. I hadn’t touched it. There were about 1,500 songs on my ipod and I was amazed THAT particular song started playing.
The next song right after that was “Happy Birthday.” It was my sobriety birthday! I sat there in awe of the two “random” songs I had just heard on SHUFFLE and hope started creeping in through those fearful tears. That defensive attitude I displayed just a short while ago started to soften. Music is one of the most powerful ways the Lord touches me and He got my attention that day. He got me good.
Getting up, I walked into the kitchen and stared at my ipod. The next song that came on began with these words:
“I’m forgiven, because you were forsaken, I’m accepted, you were condemned. I’m alive and well, your spirit is within me, because you died and rose again. Amazing love, how can it be, you my King would die for me? Amazing Love, I know it’s true, it’s my joy to honor you in all I do, I honor you.”
If there was anything I needed to hear, it was those first words: “I’m forgiven.”
Then the next line… “I’m accepted.”
Wow, how powerful those words were to me in that moment. God was showing me that the outcome of this conversation with my parents didn’t matter. I am forgiven and accepted by Him. HE is my security. I started to cry again and said, “Ok God, I’ll do it.” I couldn’t believe how my mind had changed so quickly. All of a sudden I had total peace. I had the strength to do it. Just leaving that small door open of praying to God made all the difference.
My parents showed up not long after. We sat and talked for over an hour and I confessed, making amends with them. They were so gracious to me and we even prayed together when it was over. I realize that other people do not always have the same grace given to them as my parents showed me that day and I will forever be grateful for that. But even if they had not responded in a grace filled way, walking in obedience to God was what had to take place in order for my healing to begin. It still would have been worth it.
Because of my confession and amends, a new freedom and a new power rose up in me, leading to more healing. So THAT’S WHY His word says we are to confess our sins– so that we may be healed!
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16 paraphrased) In other words, healing starts with CONFESSION. And you know what? The more I tell my testimony, the more freedom I receive EVERY TIME.
There would be many more moments like this one in the years that followed and God would continue to show up and walk beside me during those steps of obedience. The more steps I took, the more freedom and confidence I would receive. I started experiencing His faithfulness, His peace, His joy, self-control, and His love. I started getting into His word and actually applying it to my life. Getting a taste of the fruit of His spirit only made me hungry for more. I realized THAT was the fruit I had been seeking for so long that I just never could find. I was just looking in all the wrong places.
As a result, today I no longer walk in shame or guilt over my past mistakes. I don’t have to keep secrets for fear of rejection from others. I realize that my purpose on this earth is to GLORIFY HIM. Because God is the center of my life, I’m able to accept His grace for the times I mess up and then make it right with the people I’ve hurt, Experiencing Him overrides all my fears of not measuring up or worrying about what other people think. It’s so much sweeter that I’ll take the risk.
Now the question remains…will you take the risk? I hope you will…because YOU’RE WORTH IT. Join me in risking it all for Him. He is faithful and waiting.