We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. – excerpt from The Promises, adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous
My niece got married this weekend, my brother’s daughter. The wedding was beautiful. I had the opportunity to toast the new bride and groom. I said some things…don’t go to bed angry, support and love each other, innocuous words. Flowery words. Words with meaning but without depth or any of my truth. I told myself later that I didn’t want to say anything further because I didn’t want to embarrass my wife, my brother, or really myself. I held back.
My sister and her daughters stayed with us over the weekend for the wedding. I relished the time with my younger sister, getting to be a big brother again and an uncle to my nieces. Sharing and laughing and being serious about the future care of our parents, how we had gotten to this point in our lives, good memories, bad ones. But not too bad or too in depth.
Late on Saturday, we were just all laying on our bed. It was my wife, my sister, and me. We were talking about the past year, about how difficult it had been, the impact on my kids. But not too in depth. My wife and sister were talking. I was participating as well, or so I thought. It was a great conversation. But not too challenging. Safe.
That night, my wife asked me a question. Why can’t you be more open with your story? Why are you holding back? I had ready answers. It wasn’t a safe situation. I didn’t feel the Holy Spirit telling me to share. I didn’t think I had anything to add.
I told my sponsor about this conversation a couple days later. He asked me why didn’t I feel comfortable sharing? I answered with similar words: I wasn’t comfortable, I didn’t feel the Holy Spirit’s urging. I didn’t think it was the right time. He asked me if that was really it? Or was I like Mary, Martha, and the disciples in John 11. Did I not trust God enough?
In John 11, Lazarus died. Jesus’ friend Lazarus died. Jesus knew he would die but he didn’t rush back to save him. He wanted to do something different. To use Lazarus dying for His glory in His timing. So He came back and raised him from the dead, as only He could. Ok, I get it. He saved me from death and addiction as only He could.
My sponsor told me exactly. That’s what He did. He did it for His glory so all would know that only He could save from death and destruction. Every day that I was unwilling to share my story, I was suppressing God’s ability to bring glory to Him saving me from death and destruction and addiction as only He could.
I brought this up with my counselor who reminded me of truths he had previously shared. There are three tests for determining whether or not I should share my story. They are:
- Do I need to tell my story to get more out of me, to benefit me
- Do I need to tell my story to benefit the other person
- Is my story relevant to the situation
Damn. I missed an opportunity. Sometimes truths are not comfortable or safe or nice to hear or pretty or reassuring. Sometimes they are convicting. By not being open with my story and determining whether or not I should share, I am not allowing God to use it for His purpose. I am wasting the good works He has done in my life. God, I am sorry. I will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. I will use your opportunities to share my story, not for my glory but for yours.