I long for people to be more courageous with their stories.
Over the past decade and a half, I’ve had the honor of seeing many men and women take journeys against impossible odds— to fight for a marriage that seems hopeless, to give up sexual sins others consider normal (the “normal” list is growing), or to pursue healing from past sexual abuse.
But outside one or two key friendships, many of these people remain largely silent about their stories.
The rationales for silence are many.
- I still struggle from time to time, so my story’s not worth sharing yet.
- People in church see my particular area of struggle as worse than the rest.
- I don’t want people to define me by this. It’s not who I am.
But boiled down, most rationales like these are expressions of shame—of feeling inferior, dirty, or defective because of whatever the problem is or was.
This is important to know for two reasons.
First, misdiagnosing the problem means applying a treatment that won’t work. If shame is the problem, silence cannot heal it. In many cases, it makes it worse.
Second, each of the above rationales is focused on “me.” They’re self-concerned and self-protective. Shame cripples our ability to turn freely toward others without concern for ourselves.
Meanwhile, others with struggles of their own need to know they’re not alone, that someone else isn’t giving in, that change can come.
Whether your story includes pornography, adultery, homosexual sex, alcohol, drugs, debt, depression, abuse, worry, workaholism, materialism, or something else, the same voices that beckon to you in your dark hours are beckoning to others.
If you’ve begun your journey to freedom, you’re further along than all those who haven’t taken their first step. Yes, maybe some will see your weakness as the worst of all. Let Christ deal with them. (Interestingly, people with very different kinds of struggles believe others view theirs as the worst. Someone’s got to be wrong.)
For the sake of others travelling a similar path, will you tell your story to others? Yes, some may look at you funny when they first hear. Truth is confounding to a world bathed in sitcoms, sound bytes, and sexual chaos.
But I guarantee you, even if not at first, someone will hear you and come back to hear more.
Questions: What’s helped you share your story with others? What’s hindered you? Leave a comment below.
Saint, sinner, storyteller,
P.S. Come hear some great stories from some courageous men and women next Thursday (April 3 in Baltimore) and Saturday (April 5 in McLean) at Regeneration’s annual fundraising events. We’d love to have you as our guest!