In the light of recent events, the Wheaton College student population has been faced with pain, confusion, and the need to seek out the Holy Spirit in the darkest places. This culminated in a two-day event of all-campus prayer, worship, and confession. On Sunday, March 1 and Monday, March 2, students gathered in Pierce Memorial Chapel to come before The Lord in humility and brokenness. What would follow is my personal story. How this little event that I thought little of ended up working in my life for what I hope is a positive change.
My story starts on the previous Friday when a friend had come to me and confessed some sins in order to allow me to pray for them better. What this friend did not know was that their openness would trigger a Spirit-led thought process in my mind. This friend confessed to things that I had experienced in some capacity: had talked about things I, myself, swore I would never let out to anyone. This friend’s strength and courage began a journey in my own heart. As I sat in Pierce Chapel on Monday night listening to the worship and hearing the prayers of those around me, the Holy Spirit began convicting me of my concealed sin. Although I no longer struggle with this specific sin, God was using my fellow classmates to speak truth into me and give me strength to address some things that were long overdue. I sat in the dingy pew, head in arms, struggling with myself. My mind was a mix of conflicting thoughts, cries to God, and clarity for what was to be done. As I tossed back and forth, words of confession and praise to God were being spoken all around me and I grew more and more convicted. I finally stepped out and texted my friend I had talked to just two days before and said “I think I am ready to talk about this. But I’m really scared so I don’t know where to go with it”. After ushering me away from the crowd, my friend sat me down and prayed for me, that God would work through the ensuing conversation and that we would both grow from it. Wringing my hands in anxiety, I took a deep breath.
I said, out loud, my deepest, darkest, most repulsive secret that I had kept so well-hidden for years. I told my friend the ins and outs of this sin, the confusion and pain it brought and the fear I still hold of it, even though I no longer struggle with it. See, the thing is, I knew that in order to move forward and grow in God’s plan for my life, I had to confess. I had to face this beast of a feeling and slay it myself. We sat and talked for a while, commiserating and trying to figure out where to go from here. I was encouraged to open up to another close friend of mine and reassured that I would be supported no matter what.
Later that night when I got home, I talked to my roommate. I opened up this pain that I had been so afraid of. My friend sat, processed my news, and responded in love and wisdom. I was so relieved that the person I was most afraid to tell embraced me with such grace and Christ-like love. We then talked for a while about each other, how our struggles are currently playing out in our lives and offered encouragement to one another that we may know the peace of God.
I went to bed peaceful, praising God for His incredible love and guidance.
Then I woke up filled with anxiety.
What have I done? I just let out one of the worst things about myself. I actually told someone. Those words came out of my mouth and two of my closest friends know about it now. I feel so naked. Even though only two people know, I feel hyper self-aware, like a transparency sheet of a human walking around with everyone looking right into my sin. I know in my head that God is going to bring real growth through this. I know that addressing my past sin and fears was what I needed to do, but now that it is out, I want to take it all back. While it was a secret, it tormented me, confusing me and torturing me. Now that I have faced it, it feels like that was a safety net and I no longer have that. I know my friends are supportive, pushing me to define myself by how God sees me, and not by my past actions, but Satan wants otherwise. The battle for my soul has just begun, and I am afraid I’m not prepared for the battle.
As much as anxiety shakes me to the bone, I am reminded of the powerful words of the Apostle Paul: “for God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, love, and a sound mind”. My prayer is that these words hold true as I walk forward into this unpaved journey.