It was the week before Thanksgiving in November of 2011. I was kneeling in prayer at 3am. Little did I know that what was about to transpire over the next fifteen minutes would not only change my life but also touch and change the lives of thousands of people around the world. In today’s message I will share with you what I discovered in that silence 12 years ago.
It was the the third night of an eight day silent retreat. In the stillness of the night, on the second-floor chapel on the shores of Tampa Bay, with only the hushed sounds of waves lapping the shoreline, God spoke plainly to my heart. “Brian, if you want to heal, you have to tell someone you are broken.”
I was 54 years old at the time of that retreat. Reflecting back on that moment, I can clearly see that for 54 years I did most of the talking. The silence finally gave God the opportunity to talk and me the opportunity to listen. He had a lot to say to me.
Following that retreat, I made a major course correction in my life. I opened up about my brokenness and I radically changed the way I was living. I began writing these 4th Day Letters. Soon thereafter, I began putting on retreats around the country. Eventually, I wrote the book, Blessed, Broken and Scared. My purpose in all of these things is to share the message I heard in the silence of that chapel.
When I heard God say, “Brian, if you want to heal, you have to tell someone you are broken,” I began to cry. I knew exactly what He was calling me to do. Like most people, I had buried my pains, embarrassment, and shame deep inside. Like others, I had become adept at wearing my mask that said on the outside, “I was fine.” That was a lie. My smile hid my pain. Inside, I was broken and hurt, and I was too scared to allow anyone, even my closest friends, to know about it.
The Old Testament tells us that God is the source of all truth. Since God is truth, we as Christian members of The Body of Christ are called to live a truthful life.
To live truthfully, we must live transparent lives with sincerity and candor. Truthfulness is a virtue. To live in truth and sincerity also means we must guard against duplicity, dissimulation, and hypocrisy. We need to allow others to see us as we really are. We need to allow them to see our good, bad, and ugly sides. It is not important that we tell everyone about our brokenness, but it is vital that we tell someone. Some pains or traumas are best shared with a psychologist or other trained professional.
The world gets distorted when we cannot have mutual confidence that everyone is being truthful. If we obfuscate the truth and live behind masks pretending everything is “fine” then we are living in darkness. “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth” (1 John1:6).
For most of my life I hid the reality that I had been sexually molested as a young boy. Shame kept me silent. As a result of that shame and silence other areas of sinfulness developed in my life, and I kept them hidden too. Doing so prevented me from healing from the scars of abuse and from breaking free from the sins that held me captive.
God not only wanted me to be healed and find freedom, but He wanted me to share the message from that retreat with others. I believe He called me to shout from the mountaintops, “Christian community is essential!” Above all, He wanted me to understand that Christ manifests Himself to us through others, and He manifests Himself to others through us.
Remaining silent for 42 years hurt me and prevented me from healing. Also, by remaining silent I did not help anyone else. Since opening up about my personal brokenness twelve years ago, literally thousands of people have opened up and shared their heretofore hidden brokenness with me. Now they too are on the road to healing and recovery.
What areas of recurring sinfulness do you keep hidden from everyone? What wounds, traumas, pains, and injuries are you hiding? St. Paul has already told us that he was the foremost of all sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). Romans 3:23 states, “All have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.” Knowing that God sent His Son to save the lost and broken people of the world, why do we find it necessary to hide?
So where do we go from here? We go forward living an outward focused life. We go forth specifically to “be Christ” to others. If we spend our lives knowing that EVERYONE is broken in some way, and we make it our life’s mission to help them, I know and trust that one day, God will put someone in our life to help us with our brokenness.
The next time you ask someone, “How are you”, and they respond “fine”, change your vocal inflection and say, “No, how are you, I really care!” I promise you they will not say fine the second time. When they share their pains and trials with you, you can weep with those who weep, and you can be present to them. We are simply called to walk the journey with them. Keep in mind, it is not our job to fix them. It is our job to listen, love, and care!
These past twelve years have been amazing! I am so glad that God gave me this message. Now I have shared it with you. Let’s go forth to be Christ to a hurting world!
Heavenly Father, lead me to those most in need of a caring friend and give me the ability to be a good listener. Help me to be the hands, feet and heart of Christ to them. Also Father, please bring a trusted confidant into my life and give me the courage to be candid, sincere, and vulnerable enough to share my hidden secrets so that I too can heal and draw closer to you. Amen!
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