“Oh what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:24-25 NLT)
So, by reading the above verses I’m suddenly now all better? Yes, and no. Yes, from the standpoint that the Bible, God’s Word, points me to Jesus, in whom every promise of God is “yes and amen!” (2 Corinthians 1:20) What does that mean? To me it means there’s nothing Satan can throw at me that Jesus and I can’t overcome, BUT (and that’s a very big “BUT” :)) He often chooses to use others to walk with me into my victory.
Growing up, my mom was an alcoholic and both parents were unfaithful to one another. Though I felt loved, there was a lot of chaos and instability, which led my two older sisters to marry right after high school, leaving me to fend for myself. To say my family was dysfunctional is an understatement, but it was all I knew. I didn’t realize then how I was being shaped by my environment.
Through God-guided circumstances, I came to the Lord at age fifteen and soon after met my high school sweetheart at church. We dated for four years, but our relationship ended after she met someone at the University she was attending. My heart was broken, but I understood and couldn’t blame her. Our relationship had been plagued with jealousy and possessiveness, but I didn’t understand why it was so uncontrollable. As I grew in the Lord, I sensed His call to ministry and attended a Christian college and then Seminary. I married, at twenty-one, a girl I’d met at college.
As the years passed, we had two children, and ministry opportunities directed our path, but the tentacles of underlying anger, common in adult children of alcoholics, and lust filled my heart and, too often, my mind. The demands of ministry, family and other distractions, resulted in my lack of attention to my wife. We sought counseling and I thought it was helping, but ultimately my wife left me for another man. After more than twenty years of marriage I was alone and felt lost.
Fast forward to a few years ago. I was in a Small Group at the church I was attending, with my “new” wife (we’ll soon celebrate twenty-eight years of marriage). Reluctantly, I began to share some of what I’ve written above, but by God’s leading I shared in more detail about my sin and shame. Ironically, what had held me back from sharing for almost thirty years, was fear that if someone really knew me, they would reject me. But after I shared my story, I shed tears of relief, and joy filled my heart as the men and women in the room affirmed and loved me in spite of what I’d done.
Over the weeks as we shared our stories, our hearts were opened to one another in healing ways. The members of our Small Group are now among my dearest friends. That’s the power of sharing your story.
Blessings, Ed 😊