What is one thing you feel you can’t say in church?
When I first considered this questions posed by Anne Jackson (read BSW’s interview with Jackson) in her book, Permission to Speak Freely (read review), a dozen answers popped into my mind. As I paged through the book, I encountered brilliant confessions—ones I wished I could be so bold to make.
Then I thought of my own—what was it that I couldn’t say? What did I need to say?
At first, I thought I said everything that anyone had a right to know, but I found myself transformed by Jackson’s book. I felt a burning in my chest and no peace of mind—not until I met with my small group Bible study and told them something I needed to confess.
I’ve been struggling with cutting since I was 14.
The ladies looked at me with shock, probably because I was so emotional. I’m the Bible study leader and I have shared my testimony, so I wasn’t telling these women anything new.
“You’re not cutting now, are you?” asked one elderly lady. I looked down at the band-aids on my wrists before answering. I inhaled deeply.
Yes, I am. I dissolved into a flood of tears and snot. I told them I was embarrassed, that I should be a better leader, and I was afraid they would judge me. Someone passed me a box of tissues and it was then I noticed that a few members were also crying.
There was not one look of judgment on anyone’s face—just compassion and understanding.
Because I try to be real with my Bible study about my life—because our group tries to be real with one another, I hoped I could share one of my darkest secrets with this ragtag group of saints. Fortunately, I was met with love and encouragement. Oh, and they still want me to be their Bible study leader. I am what Henri Nouwen calls “a wounded healer.”
But I can’t see your face. You may react by praying for me (thank you), sending me a kind e-mail, or maybe just by saying, “Me too.” Or perhaps you’d rather leave me a nasty comment, judge me on my faith or lack thereof.
Now that it’s “out there” I don’t feel the disgusting shame of hidden sin hanging over my head taunting me, telling me that I’m not good enough. I can more clearly hear God tell me that I am His beautiful child, despite my scars, which He has covered with HIS BLOOD, not mine.
I’m so glad I allowed myself the permission to speak freely—will you give yourself the same liberty so you can find true freedom in God?