Getting Unstuck from Shame

It’s so important to find a few people that you can trust with your true self. Men, you need to find just a few men who will know you and protect your heart.

I had a profound experience of that when I trusted a teammate and talked to him about watching porn. I confided that I didn’t even understand why I did it. It was so freeing when he didn’t judge me.

I told him that it started when I blew a game in Houston a few nights before. I gave up a homer to lose the game. I joked that a Houston homer is a cheap homer. It counts, kind of, but it’s Houston. You only have to hit the ball 215 feet. You should only get half a homer if you hit a homer there!

It was just a joke. The guy hit the ball. I’m the one that lost the game.

After giving up the game, I went back to the hotel, mad at myself. I was lying there and I got bored. And I just did it. My wife’s beautiful and I love her so I couldn’t understand why I did it.

So there I was, sharing my shame and frustration with my teammate, and we talked all the way through an entire Cincinnati rain delay. I’m sure there were other guys that walked into the lounge while we were talking. I didn’t see them, but I’m pretty sure they did a U-turn when they heard this conversation!

But for me, to have someone to talk to who would listen to me and dialogue with me and help me work it through was unbelievable. In the course of that conversation, the amount of trust I had with that man was unbelievable. It was awesome. Why? Because I could reveal some of my weakness without shame. Without being scared. Without being judged.

Without someone telling me, “Oh man, you know, I’m going to pray for you.” Sometimes that feels like a brush-off. Not this time. This time, somebody listened.

For the first time, I felt that I didn’t have to act holier-than-thou. I was the chapel leader, but I didn’t have to put on an act that seemed appropriate to the position. I didn’t have to be that guy that writes books, talks about Jesus, and speaks in churches. For the first time, I felt like I could actually reveal that I was weak, and it was okay.

It freed me. That night, I experienced exactly what I had been learning, which is that you need to trust other people with you. If you do not trust somebody with who you really are, you will never mature. Not ever.

By maturity, I’m not talking about a 15-year-old boy becoming a man. I’m not talking about getting gray hair. I’m not talking about being 70 years old. 

I’m talking about maturing as a human being. I’m talking about our souls maturing. I’m talking about our spirits maturing because we trust somebody with our true selves.

If you don’t trust somebody, if you hide your weakness and shame, then you will not mature. If you have an area of weakness and are too afraid to tell somebody about it, that weakness will keep you immature.

It will get worse. It will hurt you. It will cause a lot of issues in your life. It can crush you.

The solution is trust. More on this next time.

The Birth of Trust

Last time I started telling a story about a rain delay in Cincinnati. I told a teammate that I had watched some porn the night before. He had just spoken forcefully and with wisdom about the dangers and damages of leaving magazines like Maxim around. So I felt like I could trust him. And I really needed to be able to trust someone. I needed to get it off my chest.

I had recently been learning a lot of concepts about what it means to hide in shame and be afraid to reveal myself to people. We get afraid because we think we are going to be judged. That’s why I was afraid to trust anyone with my shameful secret.

I was afraid to tell my wife. I had told her before, and she had handled it really well, but I was still afraid. What if the day came when she didn’t handle it well? I was worried about that so I was afraid to tell her again. I was nervous, and I didn’t want to hide anymore.

One of the things I was learning is that you need to find somebody you can trust. You need to be able to reveal who you really are, and you need people in your life for that. A man needs to be known by a few men. We don’t need to be known by everybody, but we’ve got to be known by a few.

Maybe you’ve heard about men’s retreats. These men’s groups are all about understanding what it means to be known by a few. I felt like I wanted that. I needed it.

So after what he said about the magazine, I took the risk. I told him, “Frankly, I don’t know you. You just seem like you understand. I think you get it. I’m going to take a chance on trusting you. I’m going to throw it out there and see what happens.”

So I just came out and told him that I’d watched porn the night before.

He sat there, and at first, he looked like he honestly didn’t know what to do. But he did. He knew exactly what to do. He talked to me. He helped me. He let me trust him, and I learned how good it feels to have someone you can trust.

Basically, I trusted someone with a personal failure, and he didn’t judge me for it. He helped me. He made me feel protected.

I found out how it feels to reveal who I truly am, and to be truly known. This is so important. All men need a few men like this. All people do. We have to be able to protect each other.

I’ll continue this story next time.

A Confession in Cincinnati

I want to tell you a story.

I think it was 2015. I was sitting in the clubhouse in Cincinnati because the game was in a rain delay. There’s rain in Cincinnati, right? There’s always rain in Cincinnati during the baseball season. It is the worst. With that much rain, you’d think they would build a domed stadium. You’d think they might say, “We’re probably going to experience rain delays 50% of the time, so let’s build a dome.”

Well, they don’t do that, so players spend a lot of time sitting around the clubhouse. You’d think that if rain delays are such a predictable thing, they would at least provide players with things to do. They could make it more comfortable by creating opportunities for guys on the team to hang out and do things.

They don’t do that, so being stuck inside the clubhouse during a rain delay is really miserable.

There’s a little area in the back of the Cincinnati clubhouse with food, a television, and a couple of arcade games. There’s candy and junk food and a couch or two. It isn’t big enough to fit the whole team, so we can’t all go back there together.

One day, I was bored. We didn’t know what was going on with the weather. So I went back there and sat down to watch television. One of my teammates was already there. We sat there watching something aimless like golf, or maybe another baseball game. Whatever it was, we sat there just watching for awhile. Then he threw a Maxim magazine at me.

He said, “Man, I’m tired of this garbage. It’s everywhere we go. It’s so hard to ignore it. It’s so hard to not be around it. It’s so hard to not look at it. Everywhere we go, man! And I know people say, ‘Just don’t look at it. It’s your choice to have self-control and all that.’ Well, what about us? We don’t really have choices. Here we are in the clubhouse and it’s right there.”

He continued, “Some people don’t understand that the pictures featured on the covers of magazines like Maxim trick our minds. Those pictures aren’t just on the covers, too. They’re all over those magazines. When we see them, those pictures get thoughts and concepts going in our minds whether we want them to or not.”

He said, “People don’t understand that the second you see an image, you can look away. But you dwell on it whether you know it or not. Some men don’t choose to understand this. Some men just don’t want to understand. But you’ve seen that image, and all of a sudden its effects can start unraveling, say, later that evening. It frustrates me. Do you know what I’m saying?”

I looked at him and said, “Yeah. Yeah, I’m kind of tired of it too.”

We went back to watching the television. Then I looked over at him and said, “I watched porn last night.”

He looked at me. He said, “What? Are we seriously going to do this right now? During the rain delay?”

And I told him, “I don’t know. I just know that I’ve got to get it off my chest.” After what he’d said, I felt like I could trust him.

I’ll continue this story next time. See you Thursday.

God Has Your Heart

The Heart of Man on iTunes

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5

Jesus told us, “Do not judge.” No one is different than anyone else. And we can’t change. But we can be changed. And when the Spirit of God flows through us, judgment is replaced by encouragement, and understanding, and love.

“Do not judge.” That concept is so much easier for me to grasp when judgment is replaced by loving my neighbor. If you try to just “not judge,” you’re going to have a really difficult time. “Not judging” is so hard! It’s so much easier when you do something in its place, like listen and help.

I wish I could look in the mirror and say, “I don’t ever judge people.” But I can’t. I judge people. I don’t like this about myself, but I still do it.

I think sometimes we do it because we’re cowards, at least in certain areas. We don’t want to go to somebody and talk to them about why we don’t like them, or what we think they’re doing wrong, or how they frustrate us. We just want to be able to feel that way without having to do anything about it. We just want to look at somebody and say, “This guy is driving me nuts. He’s doing all these things wrong and he’s an idiot.” You know? We’re happy enough to just think these things and walk away.

The problem is, you’ve just judged that guy seven or eight times, and yet you still want to think you’re a good person.

Well, the reality is, I’m not a good person. I strive to be a good person, but I’m not one unless Jesus is in me telling me, “This is how you can become a good person.”

We all have demons hidden inside our closet. We’re never going to get rid of them. If you try to live without Jesus, those demons are going to frustrate you. If you continue to live just for yourself, you’re going to fail yourself every day.

Life in Christ is a good way of life! Jesus is where we find joy! When I think about Jesus, I think, “This is where heaven is.”

Jesus is where you are going to find peace. Your struggles in life are not necessarily going to go away. But you’re going to find more peace in those struggles. When you have Jesus, you have something inside of you that’s different.

The happiness is the struggle. That’s why Paul said, “Hey man, I take joy in my trials and tribulations. You know, I lean on God during these times and this is where I find the ultimate peace. I find Him. In Christ, I can have all things. When I have the Spirit of God living in me, I have all things.”

I know that even though I’m going to mess up, and I’m going to have issues, and I’m going to struggle with my own problems, I have someone to turn to.

More on that next time. See you Monday.

We Are Saints Who Sin

Understanding our identity as Christians is so important to living in grace. I’ve mentioned before that we are saints who sin. What do I mean by that? It means we are justified. Now we are invited to receive grace and live in trust.

I’ve learned so much about the importance of trust. I have learned about the grace that comes from trusting others in who they are. I have learned about the grace that comes from trusting others with who I am. Not the person that I intend to be, always feeling great and never having a problem or a bad day, but the real person, the person I truly am.

This has been a lesson in freedom! It’s very freeing to be able to say to people, “This is who I am.” It has allowed me to mess up and not feel ashamed. I don’t live in shame! This is huge! I live in trust.

I am not perfect. I fail. I mess up. I have bad days. I cuss every now and then. Sometimes I get irritable. Sometimes I get frustrated. But I trust my wife, my close friends, and my children to say, “I don’t think of you differently. I know you messed up. It happens. It doesn’t change my opinion of you. I love you.” I receive their grace, and it sanctifies me.

Jesus is the reason I can trust people with my imperfect self. Jesus says, “I died for you. I took all of that shame. Then I resurrected.” Now that He has done all that, the same Spirit that lived in Him lives in me. Now, because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, I am a righteous man. I am holy as Jesus is holy. I am free!

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (New King James Version Rom. 8:1-4)

This is worth repeating. There is no condemnation! With this understanding, we can look at each other in trust. Through the sacrifice that Jesus made for us, we are made righteous and holy. Because of what Jesus did, God sees us as righteous and holy.

We can do this for each other. We have to! This is what allows us to be saints that sin.

Saints that sin, not sinners that have been saved. The two perspectives are completely different. When you live Biblically in who you are, then you’ll understand. God looks at you and He doesn’t see a sinner. He sees His precious child who is righteous and holy.

You don’t need to hide in your shame, because there is no shame. You are free. You have the freedom to say, “This is who I am,” and do you know what will happen? You will receive grace!

When shame starts causing you trouble, banish it. Say, “No, I am righteous.” You will be speaking the truth.

I have more to say on this next time. See you Saturday.

Kindness and Deceit

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. (NKJV 1 John 1:8-10)

The consequences of denying sin are not good. When we fear that we don’t look the part of the good Christian, we begin to judge. We try to make ourselves look better by judging the motives of others.

When we start judging, we start worrying about the people we hang out with. We get anxious about our friends and coworkers. We even judge the people we go to church with. We judge them and on that judgment conclude that we have to be careful “lest we become like them.” (Prov. 26:4)

We might even try to control the people in our lives. That’s also part of our denial. We want to control other people so that we can control how we react to them. We’re afraid of our reactions. We’re afraid to appear sinful.

Some Christians are afraid to let their kids hang out with non-Christians kids, because those kids may not see things the same way. Non-Christian kids might teach Christian kids the wrong stuff.

Well, what if the opposite happens? Maybe your kids will teach them things. Maybe your kid’s non-Christian friends will go home and their parents will see them love and act in new and different ways!

Fearing people who are outside the faith looking in leads us to become judgmental. We come at them in fear and judgment, and it’s no fun. It’s no fun to be around anyone like that, Christian or not.

I think we’ve got the wrong idea about influence. I think you have to keep an even keel. Whether you have believing friends or non-believing friends, you have people in your life that you must witness to. You have lots of people in your life, believing and non-believing, who need you to be around them.

You’ve got to be okay with this. You need to be kind to everybody. You need to be kind to yourself! Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit, so you can trust that wherever you find kindness, you find Jesus.

We aren’t perfect. Our salvation did not perfect us. It made us saints who sin, and saints who sin have a call to lovingly bring the kingdom everywhere.

The consequences of denying sin are very serious, because they lead to fear. That’s the work of the enemy. Let’s follow Jesus to freedom! Fearlessly, and without judgment!

Love Your Neighbor

Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31

Why are we here? We are here to love our God and our neighbor, with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength. I think that’s the reason everyone is here.

Loving your neighbor as yourself is not just something you do when you go to church on Sunday. It’s really easy to love your neighbor at church. We turn and shake hands, we pass the peace, and we greet each other.

Then when we leave church, everything changes. Our whole attitude is like, “I don’t see people.” We’ve got our headphones on, we’ve got our phones, and we gear our body language to say, “Don’t talk to me.”

We don’t want to have neighbors when we’re outside of church. That’s why the headphones come off when we go to church. In church, we greet each other. In church, we say, “Hey! How are you doing? You look great! This is an awesome day.”

It’s so easy to love our neighbors in church.

But we have neighbors all around the world, not just in church. We’re asked to love our neighbors everywhere we go, not just in church. We’re asked to do it in our life. We’re asked to do it in our walk. The Bible says that we are to be the aroma of Christ. People should feel Jesus in us everywhere we go.

Love your neighbor as yourself is as morally clear as I’ll ever get. There is no law against love!