• Ciara

Unspeakable Guilt

"God, how do you make good of this?"

No I wasn't asking the question in regards to my struggle with same sex attraction. I was asking the question to see if there was anyway I could escape the guilt. Waking up everyday, guilt was there to greet me with a "good morning." While interacting with friends, guilt was there with a smirk on it's face. With my hands up in worship, I could hear the whisper of guilt replaying the past years events over and over. Looking at my husband as he slept, guilt would manifest itself as tears that would stream down my face. Speaking truth into an individuals life, guilt would eventually hold my words hostage and render me silent.

"God, how do you make good on all the pain I have caused? How do you make good of what I have done to my husband? I can't handle this guilt."

Guilt. It was ripping me apart day by day and catapulting me into helplessness. Yes, I was working through my same sex attraction, but I had no idea how to begin the process of overcoming the guilt. I couldn't comprehend how I was going to continue looking into the eyes of my husband knowing that I had left him for a year to pursue relationships with different women. I didn't know how I was going to be intimate with Jeremy knowing I had committed several affairs on him throughout our four year marriage. I felt like every garment had been stitched with the letter A and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't take the stitching out. There it was, across my heart, the scarlet letter. A letter I felt that I deserved, a letter I felt that I had hand stitched into every article of clothing myself.

"God, I don't know how I can forgive myself? I don't know what to do with this? What do I do with this?"

I was John 8:1-11. I was the woman thrown out and caught in the act of adultery. I was the woman looking at stone after stone and wondering how could I be saved from this? I was the woman with tears down her face, her decisions flashing before her eyes, and wondering "how did I get here?" I was the woman wondering what it would feel like once the stone hit my body and if the impact would have any comparison to the emotional pain I felt inside. I was the woman who desperately laid there on the ground and had come to terms that the punishment was worth the crime and I was ready for the penalty.

But then I saw Him.

He never failed to show up in my moments of desperation and defeat. He never failed to show up in my times of travail and give me rest. He was there when I cried out during worship. He was there when I was on my knees asking for relief. He was there when I picked up His Word and read scripture after scripture. He was there in the quiet place and He was there in the noise. Jesus was there and He always knelt down beside me.

"How do you forgive me? How do you forgive this? How do I forgive myself?"

I can't type this and say that every time I would ask these questions, I would receive mind blowing one liner's that would shift my focus and bring clarity. I can't say that I would audibly hear His voice and what I heard would set me back on the path of forgiveness. What I can tell you, is that every time I found myself as a heap on the floor, I felt His love surround me. Although I wasn't receiving direct words, I was receiving a direct touch and within His touch, I could feel His Spirit gently reminding me of His Truth. The Truth that said:

"So if the son sets you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:36
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9
"Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord." Acts 3:19
"Come now, let us settle the matter" says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." Isaiah 1:18
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" 2 Corinthians 5:17
"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace." Ephesians 1:7

Those moments that I would feel the touch of Christ, it was a moment that I came into contact with His scar. The scar that He also carried in His other hand. When I would look at His hand and see the scar, I was reminded of the gift that He had died for. I was reminded of how Jesus died for that specific gift so He could extend it to me, to you, to all of us. It didn't matter if the sin was homosexuality, pornography, fornication, adultery, or idolatry. What mattered was that I took hold of the entirety of His Word. The Word that stated how, yes indeed, all these acts were sin, but these sins could be forgiven if you simply acknowledged the gift of salvation. If I simply acknowledged Jesus as Lord and Savior, gave my life to Him, and turned away from those things, He could turn my life around. But I quickly learned, that a lot of times I no longer continued to acknowledge the extent to which His gift covered. Laying on the ground, in tears, looking at the scars in His hands, I was reminded of His Words "Father forgive them, they know not what they do." I needed my Father to forgive me, not realizing that the moment I acknowledged, repented, and gave my life back to Him, the Father did just that. I was reminded that our Father is a God of conviction, but not of condemnation. Conviction is what led me to a place of repentance, condemnation is what led me to a place of guilt over my past actions and tried to keep me there. However, I was reminded that nothing could separate me from the love of the Father and with His love comes great forgiveness in the face of great repentance. When Jesus would meet me as I cried out to Him, although most of the time He sat next to me in silence, His Truth permeated from Him. The beautiful thing about the truth of Jesus Christ? When you lay down your preconceived ideas of who He was and allow Him to show you who He is, you will discover that His Truth is completely rooted in the most unconditional love for you. A love that fights for you, bleeds for you, dies for you, and comes back to life for you. A love that offers the fruit of grace that grants us the privilege and opportunity to right our wrongs and receive forgiveness for those things. When Jesus met me where I was and I was reminded of what He had gifted me with, nothing else mattered in the world. There was no amount of shame that would keep me from receiving every part of His selfless gift. When I began to take hold of His Truth, I would look up and see the stones beginning to fall from the hands of individuals. Stones that I, myself, placed into the people's hands not realizing that every individual carried my face. Stones that read "shame", "guilt", "fear", "regrets", began to hit the ground as the crowd of my insecurities began to disappear. I watched as Christ would silently allow His Truth to break down my walls and seep into my soul. What once was a scarlet letter upon my chest soon turned white as snow until I watched it vanish altogether. The hands that took the nails were also the hands that healed my heart and I will never forget that special gift and what it freed me from. Although, I can't hear His words audibly, I don't need to when I feel the love of Jesus so tangibly. I believe this scripture says it best;

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39