Afraid to let your secrets out
Everything that you hide
Can come crashing through the door now
But too scared to face all your fear
So you hide but you find
That the shame won’t disappear
So let it fall down
There’s freedom waiting in the sound
When you let your walls fall to the ground
We’re here now
We’re here now, oh
(from Healing Begins by Tenth Avenue North)
After I learned about my husband’s affair, I went into hiding. I’m not completely sure why I locked myself away. I do remember being distinctly afraid that someone might think that I was somehow in on the deception. I was horrified at the damage that had been done to the reputation of Christ, and I didn’t want that damage to be my fault.
When I was out in public, I would occasionally see members of the church. I would quickly dart in the opposite direction, praying that they would not see me. The shame and humiliation that I felt was overwhelming.
One day, I was on my phone and saw that there had been a fatality accident just down the street. I could hear the news helicopters swirling above our house, and I flipped on the television. To my horror, I recognized one of the vehicles as belonging to our friend Hank.
I picked up the phone to call Hank’s wife, DeLana. When she answered, I could hear the distress in her voice. She told me that Hank had just been killed in an accident and that she was with her neighbors.
I knew that I needed to at least show up to let DeLana know that she was loved and supported. As I drove to her house, I mapped out my plan: I would make a quick appearance at the neighbor’s house where she was, express my condolences, and then slip out before the rest of the church members converged on the house.
I was the first to arrive, and I was comforted that my plan was working. As DeLana’s mind began to swirl, she was concerned about getting her house in order because she knew that she would soon have a house full of people. Her daughter-in-law and I volunteered to go next door and straighten up some rooms.
When we finished straightening her house, I walked out to see cars lining the neighbors’ driveway and street. I was faced with a decision: would I walk into that house and once again offer DeLana a brief word of support knowing that I would have to face a large number of church members, or would I slip out before anyone saw me?
As I slowly walked back to the neighbors’ house, I summoned every ounce of courage that could possibly be found within me. What kind of reception would I receive? Were they angry with me? Did they blame me? How would they feel about me being in their midst in such a difficult time? I knew that DeLana wanted me there, and so I took a deep breath. I walked in the door right into the midst of about 75 people that I had avoided for over four months.
Much to my surprise, the warmth and love that engulfed me was overwhelming! I was embraced warmly! I was spoken to with love and concern. I was welcomed back as a member of the flock who had been hurt deeply. They were just as concerned about my welfare as they were about DeLana’s.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love (John 15:5-10).
God created us to live in relationships. The most important relationship that we can have is the one with our Savior, Jesus Christ. We must walk in fellowship with Him. We must seek Him daily, abide in Him, obey Him. When we do, He promises that His joy will be in us (John 15:11). He promises that we will have an abundant life (John 10:10). He promises that ALL things—even the horrible, awful circumstances that come our way—will work together for our good (Romans 8:28). He promises that His peace that surpasses all understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7). He promises that when we seek Him with our whole heart we will find Him and that His plans to prosper us and to give us hope and a future will be fulfilled (Jeremiah 29:11-13).
When we choose not to walk in fellowship with Him, we forfeit all of the joy and peace that come with living in His will. We lose the promises of answered prayers. We end up wandering aimlessly in the desert wondering how we can ever possess the promised land.
Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results (James 5:13-16, NLT).
God also designed us to live in fellowship with other Christians. Christians are commanded to pray for each other so that we might be healed. We are commanded to call others to pray over us when we are sick. We are told to continue meeting together to encourage one another (Hebrews 10:25).
In Genesis, God looked at Adam and said that it was not good for him to be alone, so he created Eve to be a helpmate. Christian friends are to encourage and help one another as we seek to walk God’s way in this life. You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17). When we have friends who are there to love us and support us, we find our joy is greater and we are stronger than we could ever be alone. When we choose to isolate ourselves, we lose the warmth and the joy that come from sharing a common treasure.
The times in my life when I was surrounded by strong Christian friends were the times of greatest growth in my Christian walk. When I made the decision to walk into that house filled with my Christian brothers and sisters, I chose to make the first step toward healing. The first step was by far the hardest.
Are you living in isolation? Do you feel that your sins or shame or humiliation are too great to let others in on your secrets? Let the walls come falling down, and you will find that we are all sinners saved by grace. We all have our weaknesses and our battles that we are fighting. But, it is so much easier when we know that we are not fighting the battle alone. Embrace the family that God has given you—the imperfect Christian brothers and sisters who are on this journey with you. Let God use others to be His hands and feet, his arms to embrace you. Enjoy the love of your Heavenly Father that He wants to lavish on you through His children.
Once you have received that love and the healing has begun, you will have the joy and pleasure of being used to minister to others! God always has a plan for your pain!