Story is the language of the heart, according to John Eldredge.
i am compelled to agree.
If we are ever going to experience healing and wholeness we must know our own story.
More than that, we must remember it with particularity. We must own the brokenness within the story so we can experience healing and restoration.
This takes courage because our stories involve shame.
Doing the work of engaging our stories is essential for warriors because unless we do that we cannot experience freedom of heart, and without freedom of heart — on at least some level — there will be no healing of our sexuality.
Lately, the Intentional Warriors group i lead has been spending time telling and interacting with each of our stories.
One of the things i am realizing, again, is that my story — and those of many other men — involve either humility or humiliation.
That is to say, with regard to being exposed as addicts and then being — more or less — compelled to do something about it, there was some element of humility or humiliation.
In some cases, there was a combination of both.
The situation for many men is that they are forced into humility because God, in His grace, brings the humiliation of their lives through some public disclosure of their failure which is manifest in their sexual sin.
The humiliation becomes genuine humility when a man begins to embrace his commonality with others who are broken.
This is one of the turning points in the novel and film “Silence.” The Portuguese missionary Father Rodrigues initially despises the character Kichijiro because of his repeated apostasy.
But later in the story Rodrigues recants his own faith, and in his brokenness and shame he surrenders his pride. He sees how similar he and Kichijiro are.
Rodrigues’ humiliation gave birth to true humility.
i see myself in Rodrigues. i was prideful as a Christian and God stepped in to humiliate me. Even still, He showed incredible kindness to me. The humiliation of my compulsive sexual failure led to humility, and i have never been the same.
Mako Fujimira, in his book “Silence And Beauty,” writes about the way the persecution of Christians in Japan _ which is the historical setting for the novel “Silence” _ caused Christianity to “hide” in that country because the faith resided in the negative space that surrounded the aggressive persecution of Christianity.
Some might argue the faith actually flourished in those conditions.
Fujimira says that the cruel ways in which the Japanese sought to eradicate Christianity from their country actually left an imprint of the faith on the culture.
Somehow, through the imprint of my sexual failure — an aggressive and cruel reality that is a tool of the Enemy used to destroy lives, and faith — real faith manages to live. In the negative space surrounding our sexual failure is the grace, freedom, and life of Christ offered again and again for us.
At the end of “Silence” Kichijiro comes to Rodrigues for confession and Rodrigues recoils. In his own mind Rodrigues is not a Father anymore and he is not fit to hear confession.
Kichijiro insists and Rodrigues hears the confession. In that moment Rodrigues is finally ministering out of his weakness.
He ministers out of humility, as a man who has tasted the painful defeat of his public sin. As a result, Rodrigues ministers as a man who is learning how to live in grace.
This is why embracing the pain and brokenness of our stories is essential. We cannot learn to live in grace apart from the reality of our stories.
More to the point, to quote Dan Allender:
“Until we deal with the particularity of the story, we haven’t dealt with shame. Until we deal with shame, there is no healing.”
i will not move beyond the pain and brokenness of my story until i move into my story, engage the shame and the humiliation, and learn the truth about myself and God’s goodness in the midst of my story.
A free heart and healed sexuality require going through our stories.
We are tempted to ignore our stories. We are tempted to minimize our stories. We are tempted to revise our stories to make them tolerable to ourselves.
We are tempted to believe the lie that time heals all wounds. It doesn’t.
There is no way around it: we must enter into our stories. It may feel humiliating to do it, but the path to freedom and healing goes through our stories. We may experience humiliation, but out of that humiliation a beautiful humility can be born.
That humility then gives rise to a new life of real and lasting freedom.