Thursday, March 6, 2014

My First Public Venue Talk

About three weeks ago, Chad, a new friend of mine who is a youth minister in Tupelo, asked if I would share some of our story with his youth (7th - 12th graders). It was a series he was doing where adults and youth told their stories on Wednesday nights, over the course of a few months. I agreed to do it, since I have prayed that if God opened doors for me to share, that I would willingly do so.

Last night was the talk. As I arrived at the church, I got very nervous. This would be the first time I stood in a public venue and shared since our journey began in 2011. I have shared in a small group and 1 on 1 with people, and regularly on this blog, but this was a step up. I HATE getting choked up when speaking, so I worried a bit about that. I would be talking to junior high and senior high youth - how embarrassing. I reminded myself that it wasn't about me. It was about making God the hero and showing that sin has huge consequences. God's grace is bigger than our sin thankfully!

I think the talk went pretty good. I choked up a few times, but that's part of the process. It's more enjoyable to be funny, but for years I hid behind humor to mask my sin and shame. Now, I want to be real, transparent, and lay it out there showing that God works in the light. Though the talk was tough due to the sensitive  personal nature of it, I am honored that Chad asked me to speak. I hope the youth got something out of it. I believe teenagers and children need to see adults be real and vulnerable. If anything, that's what they got out of it.

I know some of those youth are struggling, even some of their families with adultery and sexual sin. There are probably others living a "double life" that no one knows about. Others may be headed in the direction of a sinful path. Some may be coming out of a season of sin. Hard to say.

I told the youth that our story and journey is not over. I still have to tell our children someday. I am still having to work with my licensing board. I still have to do the daily work of healing, accountability, and overcoming my past as I head toward a better future. I told them that I am grateful and amazed that my marriage is better than it has been in 17 years; that I am in a better place spiritually than I've ever been and that I wouldn't change where we are now. However, I would change the path it took to get here.

I urged them to trust that "confession leads to freedom" and not to settle for less than God's best. Living on the "trash" of the world won't satisfy. Let God do immeasurably more than they can think or imagine! Sin sucks like hell, but God is good. Yes, I said that to youth, in a Baptist church. Sorry, Amy. :)

I am in awe of God's goodness. It is so tempting to let shame say "I shouldn't be speaking at a church," etc., but that would give the devil too much pleasure. I don't take credit for what God has done, and I am still amazed that I get to experience His grace and the grace of others. 

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