Since re-publishing this blog a few days ago, I have received dozens of emails, notes, and messages. Most have been filled with grace, compassion, and encouragement. Many have included people’s own stories of brokenness, pain, hurt and sin.
Some of those stories included people who are struggling with their own sexuality or with that of their friends. Others shared about their own sex addictions (both men and women). And others about dealing with their own children’s sexual issues. All of them had the common thread of pain, judgement, secrecy and hurt at the hands of the church (universal). And all of them noted that reading my story helped them share their own (at least with me).
(1) Everyone has a story.
I know this doesn’t sound like rocket science, but it is true. Everyone has a story — and often painful stories. Real lives are filled with pain, struggle, doubt, failure, sin, brokenness, shattered dreams, and shame. (Life is also filled with much joy, hope, and purpose… not all bad!) One of the things I am learning these days is that our stories are only redemptive in the light. Hidden, they remain a burden that slowly kills the soul; in the light of Christ and community, our stories are not only redeemable but also redemptive. In the dark, the only thing we focus on is the narrative of pain, hurt and failure. It is the part of the story that is most obvious and (at least in the moment, central). But when we shine light on the story, we discover that there is also a counter-narrative, a sub-story — really a meta-narrative — being told. And that meta-narrative is filled with subtle moments of grace, hope and redemption. But we never see it until our story is in the light.
(2) We’ve got to change the culture.
I think the greatest ministry we can have to each other is to create safe places and spaces to take off our masks and share our stories. And I think one of the greatest gifts we can give people is to tell our stories with openness and integrity. When we tell them, it creates safety for others. Broadly, the church has not been good at this… and for the church to reach its full redemptive potential, this must change.
One of the reasons I am blogging about my story so publicly is that I hope to, in a small way, contribute to a changed culture. For over a decade, as a leader with a hidden story, I contributed to the culture that I think is really very soul-killing for many. That is something I feel terribly about and want to help change…
So tell your story. Take the risk. Trust the light.