Shame On Me

shame

“Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” – Job 42:6

In January of 1984, I had my crises of truth. I was a Christian who had back-slidden into destructive sexual behaviors, and the conflict between my sexual and spiritual desires reached its peak. That was the beginning of my recovery and oddly enough, the darkest time of my life. All my porn had to go, of course. I had my cable service turned off, canceled my subscriptions to erotic publications and relocated to another city.

Only then did it hit me that I’d ruined everything good I had been given. By indulging in my sins, I had abandoned a fruitful ministry, a loving family, great potential – all wasted in a public, shameful way. The more I thought about it, the more I sank into a bottomless disgust with myself. I began sleeping through the days, then waking up horrified at myself, remembering what I’d done, each time seeing it in a worse light. I would cry, thrashing around in my bed in fits of weeping and moaning.

The poet Robert Bly wrote: ‘Where a man’s wound is, there he finds his genius.’

As part of my ‘penance’, I called all my old friends to apologize and to let them know that I had repented.  I could only find a few, but one of them permanently interrupted the ‘I Hate Joe’ cycle I had gotten myself into. When I got him on the phone and told him what was happening with me, the dam burst and I poured out my guilt, the miserable state I was in, and my fear that there was no future for me.  ‘Well, Joe’, he said, ‘if banging your head into the wall is going to build up the Body of Christ, please keep doing it. But if it won’t, don’t you think all this energy you’re putting into self-pity could be put into doing something useful with what’s left of your life?’ That shut me up. ‘And who knows’ he continued ‘but someday, after you get through all this, you might have learned something worth passing on?’

I had been drowning in shame, beating myself up but accomplishing nothing worthwhile in the process. That night I decided to find something more useful to do with my pain. Oddly enough, it was that very pain which led me into my own counseling, and then into a desire to become a trained counselor, and finally into the opportunity to work with hundreds of other men who’d made mistakes so similar to my own.

Be sorry for your sin, by all means. But don’t wallow in shame. Instead, take the time to prayerfully consider how God can convert your worst failures into useful opportunities. You just might be amazed at the genius lurking behind the wound.

For more information on Every Man’s Battle, please call 1800-NEW-LIFE (639-5433)

Will She Ever Trust Me Again?

Building Trust

While conducting the Every Man’s Battle seminar, a question I often hear from married men is: ‘I’ve admitted my sin, apologized to my wife and tried to make it right. She says she forgives me but can’t trust me. Will she ever trust me again?’

Rebuilding trust is like rebuilding credit. It can be done, but only through a combination of time and consistency.

So if broken trust is a challenge to your marriage, let me offer you three ideas on how to rebuild it.

First, get a solid structure put in place. A solid structure is a combination of accountability, daily prayer, Bible reading, and regular consultation with a pastor, mentor or Christian counselor. Find yourself a good men’s accountability group, or a good Christian therapist(call 1-800-NEW LIFE if you need help with that) An accountability group is a great option since connection is a necessity to having transformation in your life! I encourage you to also begin a daily habit of devotion, personal prayer and some time spent reading scripture. Let your wife know, in writing preferably, what your structure is. List the name of your group leader, your counselor, and the schedule you’re adopting. Give her a copy, so she knows what program you’re following, and tell her she can watch you to see if you’re sticking to it. You’ll probably be surprised how much trust this alone can build.

Second, set aside a weekly time – maybe an hour or so to do nothing but listen to her. Tell her it’s her time to tell you how she feels about your marriage, about your progress, about herself, or anything else that’s on her mind. During her ‘listening’ time, try not to interrupt her or argue. You simply listen carefully to her concerns, and make sure she knows you share them. This habit will show her that, in contrast to the selfishness you displayed through your sexual sin, you’re now putting her, and her needs, first.

Finally, don’t rush her. She’s been wounded, and wounds are healed, not erased. So give her time. Give her the time and space she needs to be angry and sad, as she grieves over the blow your marriage has endured. By patiently waiting for her confidence in you to rebuild, you’ll show her that you take responsibility for your behavior by not expecting her to ‘just get over it.’ She needs that from you. So if both of you will patiently invest in time and consistency, you’ll reap an enormous level of strength and intimacy in your relationship. In the end, the trust she’s lost can be restored, added to, and treasured.

Join us for one of our Weekend Workshops or the couples group for rebuilding marriages affected by lust, pornography, or infidelity. By God’s grace, your marriage will be renewed and transformed.