Saturday, January 30, 2016

I am not ashamed

When we met, I was 23, he was 17. 

Things started out right. God was pursuing this young man's heart and He was letting me feel His love for him. His pure, right, strong love. Jesus won the boy's heart and they started a relationship together. It was beautiful.

I became fully dedicated to discipling him; teaching him how to read the Bible, what to do with his time now that he wasn't sleeping around or doing drugs, showing him God's intense love. I thought of him as a little brother so I didn't think we needed to be concerned about the things I was usually concerned about in a guy/girl friendship. All guards were down. We, therefore, became very, very close. I didn't see the dangerous trap that the devil was setting around us.  

God makes beautiful things and the devil tries to ruin them. 

Somewhere in the middle of our friendship, the young man got a few years older, our souls got all tied up in each other's, I began thinking he needed me to follow Jesus, our relationship became unhealthy, I found romantic thoughts floating through my head, and lust started knocking on my door. 

I was shocked. 

Disgusting, terrible, untrustworthy, disappointing, and wrong. Those are a few words to describe how I felt about myself. 

I went to God and said, 

"God! I'm in a most terrible mess! I think I'm addicted to my little brother. And I want to sleep with him. I'm sorry. Please please please help me."

I started distancing myself from the young man, kept praying, kept longing for purity in my thought-life, but the lust continued.  
I knew I needed help, but I thought if anyone knew how gross this temptation was, they'd be ashamed of me. Christians aren't supposed to start lusting after the people they're discipling. What was wrong with me? 

Finally, out of desperation, I went to a trusted, wise lady at my church, and I told her everything. Putting words to my struggle and allowing another human being to know what I was dealing with was one of the more difficult things I'd ever had to do. But she didn't kick me out of the church, she didn't say I was a failure, and she wasn't ashamed of me.

"Thank you for being so honest."

That's what she said. 

Then she gave me advice I needed. 

Then I started getting free. 

Maybe you're trying to kick an eating disorder, depression, a flood of lust-filled thoughts, or an addiction. You don't want the struggle to be there, but it is. We were not made to try to get through struggles on our own. God set up the church as His family and He wants us to help each other. 

Being transparent is like flipping the lights on. Our sin, our shame, our temptation; they can't stay when we turn on the lights. Pretending to not be in a pit has never helped anyone out of a pit. Getting honest with someone outside of the pit and asking for help; that's the way out. 

In the darkest days, it seemed like I would never get out of that pit. I knew God was Redeemer, but I thought my friendship with this boy may be past redemption. I knew God was the Shame-Eraser but I thought this shame may be too strong to erase. But it wasn't.

 I got honest with God, I got honest with mature believers, and I laid this young man on God's Altar. 

"He's Yours, God, not mine. I will not give into this temptation, but I will do whatever it takes to walk in purity." 

I had to step away from him so we could both get healthy. And that's just what we did.

Today, this young man and I have a pure, healthy friendship. He has forgiven me for the many mistakes I made with our hearts and he has shown me mercy. Despite the temptation, the awful shame I once felt, and the very real struggle I faced for months, I am now completely unashamed (1 John 1:9). The Blood of Jesus has washed all that dirt away.  God took something that was quite broken, perverted and painful, and He redeemed it. Hell has lost again. 

I love what Jesus does with shame.
He sends it back to Hell. 

Sometimes life is hard. Struggle is real for every Christian. Every Christian. But the King of kings has defeated Hell, and if we'll listen to Him when struggle comes, He will help us win.

Hey. You're not alone. You're not the only one who struggles. 

Find a friend and start getting honest. 
Jesus is stronger than Hell.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
-James 5:16