Disclaimer: I continue to do my best to be honest but not graphic, however, today’s post may lead to difficult mental images. I struggled A LOT about writing this post but with much prayer and some encouragement from friends I have decided to release it. From the beginning I have set out to be honest in hopes that it will give others the courage to be honest and find healing so why stop now. Even for just one, it is worth it as I must decrease so that he may increase. Please proceed with caution.
“Hi. My name is Scot Luman. I have been a part of the TREK program for 6 years. The fact that I am powerless has led me to many sinful and inappropriate behaviors. Some of the ways I have chosen to cope with my powerlessness are: lying, stealing, pornography, masturbation, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, manipulation, beastiality, homosexual fornication, and many more.”
This is called an “Intro”. Every Thursday for 12 weeks I stood in front of my peers and shared with them a shameful event that I had taken part in at some point in the past. We call this little exercise a Moral Inventory. It is the simple yet painful act of thinking through the event objectively with the hope of better understanding why we make the choices we make and what we might do differently in the future.
On one hand this sounds like a cruel punishment for the crimes we’ve committed, but when you think about it in the context of the fact that confession is freeing, it takes on an entirely different tone. It’s not just about divulging your dirty secrets, but it’s about your peers hearing the gross and terrible things you have done, and accepting you anyway. There is something powerful about sharing your darkest secret and having the people around you say they love you and encourage you to make different choices.
The climax of the program came when everyone’s friends and family would come into town for the weekend for an event that was aptly named “Friends and Family Weekend”. On Friday night, after a day of teaching and catching the families up to speed we would gather to share these intros. The format was the same but the audience was very different. Instead of just a room full of other addicts, there were moms, dads, siblings, pastors, and even a grandma or two. The client and the counselor had worked diligently to determine which intro (event) would be the most valuable to share prior to Friday night and in most cases it would be their most shameful one. Again, not because we wanted to sell the most tickets, but the power of being accepted in the midst of your filth cannot be understated.
So for me, I had a difficult choice to make. My family was not in attendance for the weekend so I struggled to find the value in divulging my deepest darkest secret to a room full of strangers. My counselor, however, urged me to consider sharing my most shameful memory because of the freedom he believed it would bring me. So rather than sharing about running a red light I talked about how as a young boy I forced our family pet to lick me inappropriately, thus “beastiality”.
I shakily stated my intro, sat down, and cried for the rest of the night. The shame I had carried for those actions weighed on me heavier than anything I had experienced up to that point. I can’t really even convey how heavy this was. I had been buried alive under this secret for about 14 years and as much as it hurt to let it out, I was becoming free.
I learned some really valuable things through this exercise despite how difficult it was. First of all I came to terms with my powerlessness. I have no ability in and of myself to overcome my sinful nature. This is step 1 of the 12, “We admitted we were powerless over our Sin—that our lives had become unmanageable.” I was grasping at anything and everything I could find to escape the pain I was living in.
Secondly, I learned that people will let you down. I was alone that day. Out of 20 plus clients I was the only one who had no one there. This was the moment that I decided that I could no longer put my trust or security in people because they would ultimately disappoint and abandon me. No one was going to rescue me or fix my life except Jesus. He was the only one who I could trust.
Lastly, I learned that I am not the sum of my mistakes. I was born into a difficult context and I didn’t know how to deal with what was going on around me so I just did the best I could with the limited knowledge I had. I was not a monster, I was a child. I had to accept that I had made this horrific choice as a means of survival and that God had seen me in that moment and loved me anyway.
To some this may sound like making excuses and to be honest it is a fine line. I have found that there are only a few degrees of separation between rationalization and understanding sinful acts. The difference is in the heart. Does the heart take a large and defensive posture or a meek and broken posture? I assure you, when I think about this particular sinful act, it is nothing but brokenness.
What’s your darkest secret? What’s that one thing that keeps you wondering, “If they knew, would they still love me?” Maybe you're not ready to divulge it in the comment box below or share in front of 100 strangers but I urge you to find someone you can share it with. It is the beginning of freedom. I’d love to pray for you as you prepare to open up so please let me know how I can do so via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Freedom is yours for the taking, you just have to take the risk. We are powerless. We always have been and we always will be but there is a power that has been made available to us that is beyond compare. My hope and my prayer is that you will get recklessly honest so that you can find healing. To admit that we are powerless, that we have come to the end of ourselves is a daunting thing, but I hope you find the courage.