So what is it like for Ann to share the story of her affair and beyond. Check out this piece to find out what goes on inside for her.
Redemption is Risky
Redemption is risky business yet absolutely worth every ounce of risk required. What am I risking, you ask? I risk revealing myself. I risk speaking truth. I risk knowing myself. I risk acceptance, and, most of all, I risk love.
My friend, Sara, likes to say, “Shame that is spoken is broken.” Those words resonate deeply in my soul as I have come to believe that only revealed shame can be healed. This belief is not only founded in my own healing and that of others I have witnessed, it is supported by author Dr. Brené Brown’s research in the area of shame and vulnerability. She has found that “shame hates having words wrapped around it” and that “language and story bring light to shame and destroys it.”
I gain strength and courage every time I share my story. Yet, one of the first times I publically shared my story to a large group of women, initially my vulnerability was feared. The woman who invited me to speak was a little hesitant that I share all of my story, including my affair. “Women can be cruel,” she said. I stood firm in my belief that to share only the bright and shiny parts of my story would be an incomplete story. It would omit the glory of God’s redemptive story woven into mine as I experienced healing. Well, ya know what? Not one of those few hundred women was cruel. Turns out, wrapping words around my shame not only helped to destroy my own shame but also gave other women courage to begin to wrap words around their shame.
In order to know my story and strangle shame with words, I had to know the truth of my story. I used to read John 8:32 and think it was a warm fuzzy verse about salvation. That’s only part of the story. It reads, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” I have learned these few words address so much more than just my eternal soul. Shame may be powerful, but Truth is extravagantly more powerful in its capacity to redeem. My healing would only go as deep as I was willing to look; so I began to access the deepest parts of my soul where truth, as well as pain, resides. The problem was I had difficulty discerning fact from fiction because of the years I had covered that truth with lies designed to make life hurt less. With a lot of help from counselors, friends and Ben, I learned to be honest and open with myself. This led to an ability to clearly sift through what was true and what was not true in my life and in my story.
Then came the hard part. Yep, you guessed it. I revealed the truth - not just to myself, not just to God but also to anyone who came across my path. I was pretty sure that God loved me in the midst of all that pain and truth, but other people? I wasn’t so sure about them. Remember, people can be cruel. I experienced that cruelty growing up. I felt less than. I was the butt of far too many jokes. I was used and abused by those who just wanted more. Maybe I would be better off just hanging out with God and not risking the rejection of those crowds around me.
“But wait,” God said. “If you stay only with me, how will others know of my Love? How will they know how lavishly I’ve poured Love on you and how much I want to pour Love on them?” So I listened to Truth. I listened to Grace. I listened to Love. As I listened, I got to know my heart - a rich reward. I now reveal that heart, my whole heart, the dark places, too. I speak truth even when it’s hard. I seek out relationships, and fight to keep them. And most of all, I find myself in the midst of more Love than I ever dreamed could be mine.
What words define your shame? What healing words can you wrap around your shame? Find a safe friend, counselor or group of friends to share them with.