An amazing thing happened to me today. I was given the opportunity to apologize to someone I wronged long ago. Part of what made it amazing was that it happened at a church service about how “church people” lose sight of how we are all terribly broken.
I started attending Flatirons when I was married. Since my husband refused to attend with me, I ended up hanging out with more single people. I was living in this fantasy land where Good Christians didn’t consistently participate in sinful behaviors, so I was stunned when this lovely single friend of mine showed up obviously pregnant. I wasn’t mean to her, but I’m sure my disappointment and shock was visible in my face and awkward reception. I never saw her again after that. Until this morning.
After I was divorced and began dating, my single friends became far more honest with me. I was shocked to find that among Christian singles, sexual intimacy was extremely common, even in the earliest stages of relationships. Trying to navigate the dating scene with all of the pain and self-doubt I brought with me from my failed marriage, I felt like the only person who held the standard of abstinence. I received a strong, sometimes overt message from singles of both genders: if I didn’t “put out”, it would be assumed that I had some sort of sexual dysfunction. This pushed my most vulnerable buttons. It made me very anxious I wouldn’t be wanted by a confident, capable, loving man. I eventually caved in to the implied pressure, and always with tremendous regret. I’m not saying that I was manipulated or forced—in several relationships, I chose to sin.
Only I never got pregnant.
The first time I crossed into the sexual “no-fly-zone”, I remembered my friend and how I had judged her. I wanted to apologize, but I had no way of contacting her. Besides my sin, I was also ashamed of my arrogance. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for her to bear that difficult situation! Instead of keeping her secret and maintaining the image of a Perfect Christian, she chose to walk in integrity and didn’t have an abortion. I found out last week that she was working for a Christian organization at the time and lost her job over the pregnancy.
This morning I was serving at church so I had the opportunity to participate in service twice. We did an amazing exercise which allowed everyone to confess regrets anonymously. I wept when I saw how many people were just like me—broken, vulnerable, and desperately in need of a Savior. Just before the second service began, I noticed that my old friend had entered and was sitting right next to me. I apologized for judging her twelve years ago. She was so gracious, and shared a little more with me about those difficult times. I felt like even more of a heel for being so sanctimonious.
We are all broken. We all have moments or years or decades we’d love to erase. Jesus knows them all and has forgiveness for them all—every single sin we’ve committed. If we want true freedom in this life, it will come through honestly sharing these frailties with our brothers and sisters in Christ. When someone shares with us, we need to be incredibly aware of how terrifying it is to be vulnerable. We need to meet each other with love, compassion and forgiveness, as Christ as shown us by example.
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