"The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life."
It's a little scary for me to share my story here for the world to read, but it's an important part of the healing process for me and if it helps you get out from behind your mask and live a free life then wonderful!
I have hidden behind a mask for many many years. It's how I lived my little perfect "Christian" life, it's how I coped. Just hide. Be on the outside who everyone wanted or expected me to be, and really the person I wanted to be, but couldn't be, or at least I felt I couldn't be - I wasn't free. But I was an empty shell and felt like I was living a lie. I often would worry that people could see through my perfect little Christian mask. I could only contain the lion within for so long with the cage I had built. But cages, walls or boundaries, are good and fine, but what really matters is WHO YOU ARE on the inside, and who you are when no one is looking.
For example, take a criminal, the best hope he/she has is internal transformation, not just rules, police, or whatever to keep him in line (nothing wrong with those things, they are very necessary and needed to protect the innocent,) but those things don't change a man. There are ways around the system/cages/boundaries though ... what really matters is helping a criminal NOT want to be a criminal anymore. Changing his WANT TO.
Back to my story; I was able to wear my little Christian mask and hide for many years while I struggled internally dealing with hate, doubt, fear, lust, and feeling so insecure and feeling as though I was living a lie. In High School I lived a very promiscuous life, sleeping around with many girls, and it killed a part of me every time, driving me to hide even more. I couldn't be honest with anyone about what I was doing, or how I was living. I buried it, kept it a secret. I've never really dealt with my past. The problem was I knew the truth - I wasn't perfect, I struggled with the lies from the past ... and it's painful to live a lie and you can't live it forever. They haunted me.
SIDE NOTE: Only by the grace of God, a great wife and great friends have I not fallen off the deep end and done something to destroy my life. But to me that's not what a rich full life is all about, i.e. just having the police around to keep me from doing bad. I wanted and needed a change so I would KEEP MYSELF from doing bad. It's one thing to have a software program to protect you from going to bad websites, it's another thing to not want to go to bad websites. Again, nothing wrong with those things to help us stay on the straight and narrow! It's just I wanted to change my WANT TO! That is where I have lived for too long; I was doing so many things to protect myself from myself ... and that finally wore me out, I couldn't do it anymore. I needed a change on the inside so that I no longer wanted to do bad.
Last year, 2010, it came to a head ... I wasn't able to hold the mask up any longer, my arms were tired. I began to let my guard down, struggling with stress, feelings of depression and insecurities and a need to be liked, desired and wanted. I began walking around the walls I had erected to protect myself from things like pornographic images and engaging in inappropriate conversations (never crossing any physical lines, but entertaining it in my mind isn't good either ... and eventually I would have crossed those lines as well had I stayed on that path.) I thank God I could no longer hide my internal struggles that were eventually going to wreck my life. I was able to be open and honest with those around me which helped me begin to experience a freedom I had not felt before. And not just a freedom to be honest, but a freedom to deal with my brokenness through counseling and other things to help me in getting healthy on the inside.
I was afraid that if I drop the mask and was to be real with myself and others and say, "I'm broken and not as perfect as I seem - I don't have it all together, and I struggle in my mind with wanting to do bad things," people may reject me or not love me anymore. Well I began the process, actually in a sermon on a Sunday morning on January 23, 2010 called "Be A Life-Saver". I confessed my brokenness and my need for restoration and healing as I deal with my past hurts and pains in a godly way.
I am still on that journey, I still cry tears of sorrow and pain, tears of joy from the process, tears of who I have been for far too long, and especially those I hurt along the way. I am a new man today, far from perfect, but I am not the man I used to be and I am wholeheartedly pursuing the One who can and is helping me become who I am to be. I'd like to say that I am doing it for others, but honestly I am doing it for myself and I am aware that it will only be better for those around me as well.
I guess in sharing my story your story is in your mind, your broken places, the wounds from your past, the hurt from bad decisions you've made, or bad decision others made that affected you in a deep way. There is a way out, there is healing, there is restoration for you, it's in the loving arms of God.
Your life matters, that's why you should give this world and those around you the person you were created to be - you deserve it!