I spend a lot of time on Twitter.
Through my twitter trolling and reading blog posts from sites like Sojourners, I stumbled onto this:
“A Thread Called Grace” by Jonathan Merritt
I first met Jonathan on Twitter. Honestly, he was on a long list of “recommended” people to follow. I just clicked his name without really knowing who he was. In fact, he may have followed me first
In this excerpt from his newest book Jesus is Better Than You Imagined, Jonathan confesses with exceptional courage his struggles with sexuality that began after he was sexually abused when he was 7 by an older boy in his neighborhood. The abuse happened several times and Jonathan kept it secret out of fear, shame, and pure traumatic shock. The experience, he says, “singed a part of my soul in a way I can’t explain.”
But the article isn’t really about Jonathan’s sexual abuse. It isn’t about his struggles with sexuality. It isn’t about the scandal that almost happened when he was later caught up in an intimate moment with another guy.
It’s about grace.
God’s grace. Grace offered to each of us, in spite of our circumstances, regardless of our faults and follies.
It is about a fact that rings painfully true: Secrets keep us from accepting the full grace of God. [Tweet this!]
Secrets draw their power from shame. I convince myself that I am too messed-up, too tainted, or too tarnished for others to accept. Or maybe people will think I am a fraud. As I believe these lies, shame grows into fear, which is almost always at some level, fear that if others truly know me, they won’t love me. Or at least love me as much or in the same way.
How often does fear lock us into place because we are worried what others will think? When we make a mistake, when we sin against God and against others, how often do we hide behind a mask, as Jonathan says, in fear someone will discover our secret, dig up the dirt, unveil our true self?
Jonathan even mentions the story from Genesis when Adam and Eve hid from God because they were ashamed.
But God already knows our secrets. You can’t hide from God. If (when) you come out of hiding, you might even find God may be working through your struggle to make something amazing happen. He may be asking you to trust Him more and give up your shame and fear and self-sufficient attitude so that He can transform you from the inside out by showing you who you truly are: a child of God.
In my favorite quote from this excerpt, Jonathan says this:
“As it turns out, sometimes God lets our house burn down so we can better see the sun rise.”
Fear, shame, those things that give us pause and make us reluctant to let go and be who God intends us to be, they keep us from accepting the forgiveness of God that was proven through the death, burial, and resurrection of His son Jesus.
We are redeemed. We are forgiven. We are made new. We are children of God. [Tweet this!]
So, it’s obvious Jonathan’s story shook me until my eyes became so wet it was tough to focus on the screen.
A few days later, I learned that one of my other Twitter friends, Margaret Feinberg (see the button for Margaret’s blog on the right of my home page), was giving away a copy of Jesus is Better. Everyone knows I love giveaways, especially book giveaways, so I entered.
I didn’t expect to win. I hardly ever win.
Today, after a tough morning and a battle with allergies, I decided to double-check Margaret’s blog and see who the lucky winners were.
“Congratulation, Jason.” My first thought was There’s another Jason. It’s not me. But sure enough, I was a lucky winner. This actually makes the second book I have won, written by someone I met through Twitter. Last month I won a signed copy of Jeff Goins’s The In-Between.
I love the Internet. I love Twitter. Even though real life friendships and fellowship with neighbors and fellow believers is most important, it is a blessing to find a way to connect with others who are in the struggle to serve Christ, to live in (and by) the grace of God, and to reach out to those who need to know that we are not alone, we are not damaged, we are not forgotten.
We are loved. We are accepted. We are children of God.