We are the sum of our parts. Our family of origin, our childhood experiences, the schools we attended, the friends we made. Shaped by our choices and the choices of others. So many choices - single or married, faithful or unfaithful, children or childless. Affected strongly by the lives around us and sometimes, even more strongly, by the deaths. We are expanded by the good and struggle against being refined by the bad.
In John 16:33 Jesus says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.“ What does trouble look like for you today? And more importantly, what are you doing with the trouble that has found you (or that you went out and found - as was the case with my pornography addiction)?
When trouble came in the form of my porn addiction I did not handle it well. I allowed the secret, the shame, and the guilt to trap me in an endless cycle of addiction and isolation. I did not talk to a trusted friend or seek professional help. I did not confess to my husband or ask him for forgiveness and accountability. I did, however, allow the addiction to taint my relationship with everyone around me. I did believe the lie that a porn addict was who I was and would always be. I did build a wall brick by brick, sin by sin between me and God.
With distance, what I have come to realize is that the addiction – it is not who I am it is just a part of who I am. Taking the analogy that my life is a book – it is just one chapter. Or if my life is a puzzle that is being pieced together day by day, year by year, experience by experience – it is only one piece. OK, maybe 10 pieces of a 1000-piece puzzle - but you get the idea.
Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” I love the wording of this verse. It does not say we hope, or we wonder, or we think but instead it says we KNOW. And not in some things but in ALL things which I take as a very literal all. There is nothing that God cannot work for his good.
It takes courage to share our troubles with the people around us. But it is by standing in the truth that we are set free for God to do his very best work in us and through us. Shining light on the dark places and telling the truth allows the healing to begin. It allows us the privilege of coming alongside someone else down the road who experiences similar troubles. It allows us to be set free from the tangled web of guilt and shame that entrap us. It allows God to work good from bad things.
Precious Father – Thank you that we are the sum of our parts. That we are a story still being written. Give us the courage to turn the page and face whatever the next chapter may bring. May we find rest and peace in your word, your promises and your presence Lord. Amen.