Rigorous means “severe, harsh, exact or accurate.” When was the last time you had a rigorous (severe or harsh) work out? You know, when you sweated a little harder by running ten minutes longer, or by lifting 20 extra pounds on the weight machine. Although it hurts at the start, over time, rigorous workouts generate clear results. Your muscles are firmer. Your energy is higher. Your stamina increases.
The same is true in recovery when you exercise your “honesty” muscle. Half-hearted efforts produce little or no change, while rigorous honesty changes you.
When most people finally admit their need for recovery, there are things that they have been dishonest about throughout their struggles. Their sinful patterns lead them to twist or hide the truth from others and themselves. They distort the truth to avoid consequences of their actions or because the truth is just too painful to face. Some even pretend for so long that they forget who they truly are. When a person reaches his breaking point, an honest review helps him come clean, and begins to free him from his secret prisons.
My moment of self-honesty came after a night of bingeing on pornography. When I reflected on how I’d spent my night, what I’d seen, and how my pornography intake had progressed over time, I could no longer lie to myself. This time would not be my last time (something I told myself over and over again). I couldn’t stop myself. My struggle was beyond my control and needed help. At that moment I didn’t care what anyone thought about me anymore, I just wanted to be well.
“Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.” (Psalm 51:6)
This moment of self-honesty led me to be honest with my wife, which led me to be honest with my church, which led me to be honest with a support group who could help me.
“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)
I can’t fully express the freedom I experienced when there were no more secrets in my life. A great burden had been lifted from my shoulders. Everything was in the open, so I had nothing to hide, no sin to manage, no reputation to protect. And I discovered that by allowing myself to be fully known, I had opened a door to be fully loved despite my sin. I was free to receive grace and mercy, and to be authentic in my relationships.
“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 1:7)
God wants you to be free from prisons of secrecy. There is nothing you have done in your past that will cause God to stop loving you or to reject you. He loves you so much that He sent His son, Jesus, to die on a cross for the very secrets you are trying to protect. God wants an authentic relationship with you. And in this authentic relationship with God, He frees to become the person He created you to be and to be fully known by others.
Take courage to practice rigorous honesty with yourself, God, and others. Speak the truth about yourself with no wiggle room. As you are freed from protecting the past, you then can begin moving forward with your future, honestly recovering your day-to-day thoughts and actions in your relationships with God and with others. The truth will indeed set you free.