Tuesday, January 14, 2014

9 men. 9 stories. Powerful experience.

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to join 9 other men on an overnight getaway as part of a two year accountability group. The purpose of the evening was to share 20-30 minutes of our story that included key people and events in our lives that had shaped who we are today. I didn't know many of these guys and was glad to have this opportunity. I looked forward to learning more about them and getting beyond the surface level interactions.

I was a bit nervous about the whole experience because I imagined that my story was probably the worst. I didn't figure any of them had done the awful things I have done. I assumed many of them had had struggles in life but not gone down such a dark path. I know it's wrong of me to assume such thoughts about others and even myself. It's part of my recovery journey and "life with an invisible A." I don't want my identity to be in my "label," but I also can't change the facts of what I've done. There's seems a fine line between "shame and humility." I prefer to stay on the humility side rather than the shame side.

Thankfully, since August I have shared my story with over 15 to 20 people 1 on 1. This has been part of my growth and interaction with men and pastors as I seek to expand my counseling practice. Sharing my story has gotten easier and somewhat less stressful/anxiety invoking, but it's still very uncomfortable when I tell it with someone for the first time. I never want it to become stale or so comfortable that I forget the pain I have caused. I also don't want to focus on me or the sin but more on God's grace and redemption.

There are various parts of my story that cause quite an emotional response in me, even two and a half years later. I told Amy one day that I prefer to be funny rather than feel like a walking "Hallmark commercial" who cries at the drop of a hat. Humor is something I have used much of my life. It has often been a mask to hide my shame and insecurities. I like having a sense of humor and prefer to be funny. Amy replied to my comment with her quick wit and insight, "Well, this stuff isn't all that funny." I agreed.  

Listening to the 8 other men share their stories was very powerful. Many of them had never shared such personal details of their life. It was very humbling to witness and be a part of. It created bonds between us that will enhance our two year accountability group significantly. It was a huge reminder of the value of confession, vulnerability, transparency and getting real with others. Making this a lifestyle rather than the exception would keep a lot of us men from falling into a life of sin and darkness. As the Bible says, "Evil thrives in darkness." God works in the light.

I got to share my story after about 6 others had gone. It was not easy but it was freeing. I don't know what all they took away from my story, but I am thankful to got to share it. They were very receptive of me before AND after, just as I was with them. I continue to be amazed that I receive grace from others. It's still hard to fathom. Adultery seems to be one of those "unpardonable" sins. I know it's not, but some days it feels that way. I often think in the back of my mind that someone someday is going to respond to my story with some serious emotion and rejection. It wouldn't surprise me, and I wouldn't blame them.

Therefore, I don't want to be just a guy who committed adultery. I want to be a humbled, sorrowful adulterer in "recovery." One of the most meaningful affirmations I have received recently is from a friend of mine that I met here in North MS. He has some pain in his past that could potentially make it more difficult to be around me due to my past sin of adultery. He said to me the other day, "I told a friend of ours that it's easier to be around you Scotty because you are humble and repentant."Wow. That's an answer to prayer. God is good.

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