It seems that lately my life revolves around going to groups. Home group, accountability group, group therapy, group projects… It is something that I cannot escape, nor do I want to. Recently I’ve been attending an in-depth redemption recovery group that has been so cathartic and… well, hilarious. Sin can be ridiculous sometimes especially when viewed in the light of day. In the moment sometimes it seems so overwhelming and burdensome, but when you look at it through the grace that Christ gives us then it is marginal.
As much as it pains me I’ll admit that I still struggle with sin. Yep. I do. I struggle with gluttony and the inability to tell myself no. I love pleasure, who doesn’t? I love to eat and spend money and masturbate just as much as most men and maybe a little more. I don’t like to admit that, but I think it’s time we all stop pretending that we don’t sin. Over the years I’ve gotten better, but it’s a constant battle that I often lose.
There were seven of us in the group last night. We meet in empty rooms at a church. The hard metal chairs are cold and uncomfortable but the conversation is easy. “How has your week been?” Paul, our group leader, asks. He has gray hair and looks like he just stepped out of a Gap magazine but he’s extremely genuine and that puts everyone at ease. “I’ve been struggling with meeting random guys off and on for the past year and it is getting out of hand.” The man that says this looks like a baseball player. He’s a seminary graduate. He has the kind of personality and demeanor that would make him instantly popular in any setting and the things that he confesses are shocking because they are such a juxtaposition to the image that he presents. The more he talks the more I can see how our thought patterns are similar. We open the door just a tiny bit to sin and then suddenly it’s wide own and we can’t pull it back shut. At this point it is normally fear and self-loathing that force us to reach out for help to get the door shut.
I’m always surprised at the transparency of the men seated around me. It’s a privilege to sit next to them and hear about their lives. We rarely see behind the masks of people we are around every day.
One guy in the group talks about how he wants to be a better husband and father and in comparison to the rest of us his struggle seemed almost minor. In my head I sit their thinking, “Do you really need to be here?” The reason I think this is because I feel that his sin is small in comparison to many of the rest of us, but that’s foolish thinking. It is easy to add weight to certain sins and even rate them on a scale of “Sort of Bad” to “Your about to burn in hell!” I was blessed that this man had put aside his pride and joined up with a bunch or serious derelicts to overcome his sin. He said, “I’ve been to other groups, but here, people are real.” I couldn’t agree more.
All of us in group want to be free of sexual sin in some capacity. Maybe it is pornography or maybe it is something more, but what bonds us together is not our sin, but our desire to be more like Christ. Everyone struggles with sin, but it takes a lot of courage to sit in a room and divulge your darkest secrets. Digging up those sins, laying them at the foot of the cross, asking for help – that is when the healing begins. Unfortunately, fear of rejection and fear of what other people will think holds us back from telling the truth. This fear is unwarranted and irrational. At the end of the day I don’t love people less because they struggle, I love them more. Those people are my brothers. Those men I “get” and they “get” me. At group we are all broken. We’ve been stripped bare of our pride and we stand raw and exposed. We have become a blank canvas awaiting the brush stoke of the master’s hand awaiting to see what he will paint next.
When I left last night from our group session I couldn’t help but feel like I was walking on air. The truth does indeed set you free and the bonus of that is the deeper understanding of who you are in Christ and the great love that he has for you. It’s humbling and overwhelming. I literally swim in a sea of grace and for that I’m truly thankful…