Like most people, I don’t appreciate being woken up, in the middle of peaceful night of sleep, to address pressing matters. However, what took place this night was long overdue. I had purposely avoided it for way too long. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and honestly, my shame was greater than my willingness to face the inevitable….
My body wrestled to come fully awake and my sleepy eyes fought my tenacious heart relentlessly. I reluctantly crawled from the comfort of the blankets that held and protected me. However, before I could give it much thought, my knees hit the floor, and I began to sob uncontrollably. At first, I couldn’t put words to what I was feeling. There was so much pain and so much beauty carefully wrapped up in this moment. It was like an unexpected gift and an unwanted wake-up call all-in-one. I had not anticipated this and I had absolutely no clue as to how to respond. All I knew is that my heart felt as if it were about to erupt. In reaction to this, I let out a yell. I’m still not sure if it was a cry of agony or a cry of victory. What I know is that I left that moment completely changed. What I undoubtedly know, is this moment was an encounter with God himself. It was a moment where He allowed me the privilege of taking a glimpse into His heart to experience what He felt.
The days leading up to this moment were humbling ones for me. I found myself separated from the people and things that mattered most to me. I felt hurt and wounded, but I knew I alone was guilty of inflicting the wounds that I had clothed myself with. To make matters worse, I knew that I had hurt those that loved me most. The knowledge of this felt like death. The fact that I could do nothing to reverse my actions just about killed me.
Coming clean is not an easy thing, but I knew that it was crucial to my survival. I wasn’t at a place where I could help myself. I knew that I needed to surround myself with people who could help me piece things together. I needed an army of powerful, fearless, and able-bodied-warriors who could help me rise-up and face the demons that I had deliberately ignored for years. I picked up the phone and called several family members and friends that I knew that I could trust to come by my side, empower me, and hold me accountable. These conversations were some of the most difficult that I ever had, but they were necessary conversations. I remember that years ago a friend of mine used to say, “revealing is the step towards healing.” I never really understood what that meant until I made the very last phone call. Afterwards, I knew that I had taken the first step towards healing and hope. However, I had no idea what the rest of the road would be like. At the suggestion of one of my closest friends, I recruited the help of a Christian counselor to help me navigate the course of this journey.
Counseling assisted me in identifying the root causes of my predicament. It also helped me to explore my motivation and rationalization for wanting to change. Faced with the possibility of losing everything, I was motivated to act quickly to salvage my marriage and home. My wife was my best friend. My lifestyle and choices had hurt her immensely. The knowledge of this brought me a tremendous amount of grief and regret. To me, this was more than a good enough reason to change. I wanted her pain to end. Heck, I wanted my pain to end. However, my counselor asked me a question that I will never forget, “Have you considered how your actions have affected the heart of God?”
Up to that point I hadn’t even considered the fact that my personal rebellion had affected Him. I mean, I knew that God sent His son to die on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin. I knew that if I confessed my sin, He would forgive me. However, I had never taken the time to consider how much my sin hurt Him.
After the counseling session, I prayed a simple prayer, “Father God, I’ve been living life the way that I want and I know that it hasn’t been pleasing to you. My actions have cause my family and I a lot of pain. I know that I want to change, but I haven’t even considered how my actions have affected You. Will you show me? Will You help me to understand how much I’ve hurt You?” I prayed this prayer knowing that He would answer. However, I didn’t expect him to answer it in the middle of the night…. And I didn’t expect for him to answer the way that He did.
There was no way to prepare for the experience that I had. All I know is that, for a brief moment, I experienced the agony that Jesus felt as he carried the weight of our sin to the cross. I felt waves of sadness, heartache, and disappointment try to overcome me. Yet, at the same time I was overtaken by a Tsunami of love….. In my mind, I reviewed every one of my personal acts of rebellion and the agony increased, but regardless of how high the waves of pain rose, the waves of God’s love rose above them. The current of the waves was stronger than the others and they pulled me safely to a place of hope and of rest. I knew that I had been washed clean. I knew that a new day had begun. There was so much beauty in the pain that washed over me that night. I saw the heart of God, and it was for me. This was a day of new beginnings, a day of restoration, a day of liberty. Now I am free.
John Eli Garay
P.S. Certain songs have become personal anthems of mine as I walk out this journey with Christ. This song shares the Gospel story in a heartfelt and accurate way. Take a moment and give it a listen.
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