I was eighteen years old when my secret sin first took root. As the days passed, it grew more and more out of control. I kept it a secret, believing that no one would understand. At that point in time, I didn’t know Christ and neither did many of my friends. When I shared about my struggles or admitted to insecurity—which was rare—I was told, “Just get over it and move on. You’ve got mental issues!” My response was to retreat and avoid.
Eventually, I came to accept Jesus Christ as Lord of my life, but I was still isolating. The more I isolated, the tighter the enemy gripped.
“But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3)
I might share bits and pieces of my struggle with insecurity with others, but certainly not the whole of it. The real truth was buried away deep inside.
“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)
Now completely isolated and insecure, I devalued myself by comparing myself to others. This greatly affected my relationships. When dating a woman, I had to know about her past boyfriends: how they looked, what they did, how old they were, etc. I needed to stack up. I needed to be better. This rabbit hole led me to dark places of sexual insecurity. I would imagine my girlfriends with men of their pasts. Pornography acted as gasoline fueling this fire, searing false images, jealous thoughts, and crazy ideas into my head.
I believed I could fight this battle myself, that my insecurity would eventually disappear—but it didn’t. Two years into my relationship with Christ, I was still keeping secrets. I knew Jesus was calling me to live in the light and expose sin, but I was afraid to reveal the real me (John 3:20). I wanted to maintain an image, so I concealed my sin and shame, like Adam in the garden trying to hide behind shrubs. But who can hide from God’s sight?
“For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away, through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.” (Psalm 32:3)
When I began re:generation, I told myself, “I will be open, but not with this. I’m taking this to the grave.” I told God, “You can’t have this one. I won’t confess this sin.” Thankfully, God continued to press me until my secret sin became a burden too great to bear. One evening, I finally confessed to my re:generation group and confessed the exact nature of my sin (Step 5). I didn’t just give them a part of it. I gave them all of it. In that moment, the weight of the sin lifted.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16)
I was met with love, care, kindness, and understanding. I proceeded to confess to other Christians and my mentor. Finally, I was fully known and loved. I was free from the burden of sin and shame.
“If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:6-7)
To this day, secret sin and insecurity no longer control me. Now, I experience freedom by living in the light with other Christians. God showed me that His grace is enough for all of my sin. The fact that Christ chose me and died for my sin defines me more than anything else. When I fully trust in the work of the cross, I am free to be known in my weakness, and can be confident the power of Christ rests upon me.
“…therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
- James R.