In a small church in rural south Mississippi, on a warm Sunday evening, I became willing to stand up in front of almost everyone I knew in my young life and tell them that I believed in Jesus. That I knew who He was and that I wasn’t Him. I professed my faith in Him as a savior and forgiver of sin. I trusted that He could and would save me from Hell. And that was that.
Very early in my life, I became willing to lie to protect myself. Small things, large issues, all required lies on my part, because the truth of my own loneliness wasn’t bearable on my own. I became willing to trade the consequences that came with lies being exposed for the false narrative that I wasn’t really alone or abandoned…I was in control.
I became willing to hide the pornography magazine I found of my Dad’s. I hid the shame I felt as well, wondering how I could keep looking at the women inside those pages over and over…and not being able to stop. That was my first real instance of powerlessness.
When we got expanded cable television, I became willing to sneak to our downstairs playroom to watch pornographic movies. Each night I would make sure the lights were all out, lay down on the couch so I could pretend to be asleep if someone walked in, and zone out watching movies that fed my desire for self gratification.
At the age of twelve, I became willing to not speak of the molestation my friend perpetrated on me. I buried that deep in my psyche, not speaking of it for almost forty years. The shame of that time deprived me of my victimhood, convincing me that I caused it. Not until recently, when discussing this with my wife, did I realize I never wanted it to happen or did anything to make it happen or try to seek out other boys to have sexual encounters. But when it happened, I became willing to continue to lie and hide my shame.
Throughout my youth, I remained willing to have God as my Lord but not as my savior. I remained willing to keep Him at a distance. Someone who’s name I knew but who didn’t really know me. I became willing to grow in my closeness to Him but not at the cost of my lying or growing sexual enthrallment.
In my early twenties, I became willing to marry my wife, to share my life with her. I didn’t become willing to share all of my life, holding back my secrets and lies. I allowed her to open all of herself to me without truly doing the same. The two of us became one and a half. Half to her, half to my lies and addiction.
For the next twenty years, I became willing to violate my promises to her. To lie to her over and over about my faithfulness, motives, truths, and stability. I sought out what was best for me and left behind what was best for us.
I became willing to lie to my boys, abandoning them to the same loneliness and anxiety that ruled my life. Manipulating them into thinking that anyone else but me was to blame for our separation. Spoon feeding them lies and deception, ultimately destroying any trust they had ever developed with me.
I became willing to leave my family, blaming my wife for my own path of devastation. Pointing at her as the source of our crumbling marriage, when I was the source of the abandonment she experienced. I became willing to walk away from her and my sons. Writing that statement makes my heart hurt and my stomach churn, but I know it to be true.
My wife became willing to tell me the truth, despite my actions. She accurately said that I would continue to spiral downward, never finding peace or fulfillment. She gracefully offered me a path out…the way out that God promises in 1 Corinthians 10:13, giving me an opportunity to endure.
I became willing to take it, to follow that way out. But not yet fully give over all of myself. The strongholds of lying and shame were too deeply rooted for me to overcome on my own. Not until the true discovery of my lying did I become truly willing to give up.
It was then and only then that I truly became willing. Willing to disclose all of my deceptions, secrets, lies, shame, hurts. Willing to show my true self to my wife, knowing that my exposure could damage her beyond repair…but knowing she deserved to know the father of her children and decide for herself.
I became willing to walk into a room with a circle of men, to listen to their stories, to ultimately share my own. To realize that I had never been the only one. They too felt abandoned, suffered abuse, incorporated shame as truth, and hid it all from the world.
I became willing to share my junk, to dig deep into my present and past, to give my life and will to God, and to inventory the flaws requiring His grace. Through those steps, I began to see myself as a human being, broken, and yet forgiven.
Once I became willing to reach the end of myself, I became willing to give Him all of me. In doing so, He gave me something back. My life. My marriage. My sons. Gifts that were there the whole time but that I could only see through His love for me.
I encourage you brother. Become willing…