Monday, December 29, 2014

Reconciled



Back in those earlier days with our oldest son, back when we drove to see him on Sundays at a state prison, I worried about how we'd ever spend our minutes together.

We'd created a safe place to love each other on faded lines of jail notebook paper, Cory and I taking turns writing, sometimes shoving two letters in one envelope. Robert wrote back with an abundance of smiley faces, the kind with long dash marks for eyes, and a complete omission of punctuation.

Most nights, we spoke on the phone, packing as much as we could into a timed, 30-minute call, often repeating ourselves, defaulting to parental proclamations, "We love you so much." "We're so proud of you." "Please go outside for some fresh air."

This was different. Now, there was nothing between us. No walls or screens, no miles. Our knees bumping under the flimsy table, our eyes locked, plenty of time. We needed some new material.

I threw it out often, "Ask us anything! We'll answer!"

But he hung back at the ropes, listening to all our stories, sharing his own. Never asking.

Until, one night, he did. "What's the worst thing you've ever done?" he asked across the crackling prison line.

Crap.

We held him off for a while. I'd instinctively lower my voice when Cory and I talked about it at home. We said we'd tell him anything.

It makes so much sense in hindsight; I'm not sure why I didn't see it coming.

He was one of us - part of us - but there was much that separated us, and he's no fool. He found reason to call us "Mom" and "Dad" in the visiting room of the prison. He wasn't trying to be funny or get noticed. He just liked that we were there, we were his, and he wanted everyone to know. But what makes a family real? Is it ever as simple as a name? An address?

The week after he moved in, all the littles sound asleep, he unburdened what was left of his past, then Cory shared, then I looked my 19-year old in the eye, and told him I'd had an affair. Over ten years ago, I had been unfaithful to the man he now calls Dad.

The world didn't stop rotating like I expected. There was still air left in the room. So we breathed it in and knew it could never be more official than baring our wounds in the living room and realizing none of them mattered now. His opinion of me shattered in some good ways, that night. I lost part of my reputation, and it needed to go. Standing eye-level, he started to understand a bit more about the ways we love him.

When I tell you our brokenness binds us together, I'm not just playing fancy with words. I'm not trying to be trendy or overly-spiritual, and I'm certainly not being trite.

Without our scars, we are separated. We're cast on opposite sides, two halves of unfamiliar wholes, sharing similar dispositions and DNA, but not even close to touching.

Over ten years ago, I believed I had ruined my life beyond repair. Over a long stretch of inches, I took what wasn’t mine. Over a full swell of moments, I let myself become estranged from my beloved husband.

A decade later - what feels like a lifetime later - I can close my eyes and feel the pulse of that bruise rising up in my soul. I remember the exact shade of shame I wore. I remember believing there wasn't a single Christian I could trust with my mess, not a soul who could handle me. That time in my life was marked by tremendous regret, shame, and fear. I hated who I had become, though in the weeks and days leading up to this, I would have told you I was walking with the Lord, and yes, of course I loved my husband. That things could so quickly detonate left me doubting all I’d come to believe, mostly about myself.

I was desperate to be pulled out, but bolted to the floor of a cell I'd helped build.
I didn't know how to extricate myself.
I didn't know how to let go of the wrong thing or embrace what was right.
I only knew I was guilty, and I believed, in my darkest moments, the world would be better if I wasn't in it.

The pressure changed me. The sin changed me.
I didn't know myself anymore, certainly didn't trust myself anymore.
I believed every possible solution made a dead-end at my eternal sorrow.

And in a moment I couldn't possibly have chosen, God set me free.
He set me free from my silence. The truth fit the lock and I saw just a glimmer of hope.

My husband wore the skin of Jesus and loved me like a parted sea, a flaming tree, an infant King on a bed of hay. Cory became a miracle through our darkest days, lowering me down through the roof to be healed, turning muddy water into wine.

We were being healed, but the healing was done alone, quietly.

I don't want that for you. I don't want you to scan the room and believe you're the only one harboring ugliness. I don't want you to wrack your brain and come up empty.

It doesn't matter that the face of compassion and humility exists unless we know it's there. For the hours and days and months I wept for one person - just one - who might tell me the truth and love me back to the person I was meant to be, I stand here now, in my emotional underwear, so you can see me.

For all the years I've spent looking over my shoulder, afraid of being exposed, I know now this secret won't come between me and my image, or my future. It can't possibly come between my close friendships, or me and those who love me truest. But hiding it will separate me from anyone who has inadvertently placed me on a pedestal. Holding onto it will come between me and the ones I love who wear their brokenness more visibly than I was ever brave enough to do. Distancing myself from my mistakes will stand in the way of me and you and our fragile hope for authentic community.

I am not surprised by your sin.
I don't think you're crazy or hateful.
I don't think you're a bad person.

We’re all hard-wired to inflict great pain. We so desperately want a villain, and we're inclined to play that role. We tell ourselves we deserve whatever happens next and brace for the fall-out. But we forget the real suffering already happened.
 
We believe there is no condemnation but we're scared to believe we could still belong to Christ. We picture ourselves in a separate room off to the side. He forgives us, but surely we can't roll with the rest of them.

And still, we are His. He finds us reeking of poverty and reaches out to us. His t-shirt is wet with our tears and He cries into our hair because He wants us to feel our freedom. He loves us. He loves you.

He loves you too much to let you live this way. You were made for so much more.
He loves you too much to allow you one more step in shame.
He loves your marriage. He street-fights for it, against an enemy who understands its worth enough to battle against it.

It will be painful, but He is with you. 
Hide your pain in Him. Let Him wear it.
Run to Him daily while you cut those ties that bind you, scared to death that you'll never be the same. (I promise - He'll make sure you're right about that.)

You don't have to go public. But it's time to walk in truth.

As for me, this laundry isn't dirty anymore.
I share because I was pulled from the pit twice, by my Savior and my husband, the only heroes in this story.

I share because I don't have time to maintain these regrets.
You don't either.

You aren't alone.
You are not defined by your past or your present.
The baby who came is the Savior who waits.

He loves us.


104 comments:

  1. Love your candid nature. I wish I had your courage and strength and pray to get to that place one day. Thank you for always being real and making the world a better place.

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  2. May your courage give others courage......... thankful you were pulled from the pit twice!

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  3. What a gift you gave your son and yourself. Honesty! xo, laura

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  4. Sorry, but your pedestal just got higher. In a good way. Thank you for being such a beautiful instrument in this world.

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  5. holy wow...on every level...and I respect it even more because i think you shared from such a place of great truth and grace...you don't need anything from any of us, compassion, forgiveness,understanding, a pat on the back...you've already done your own work and owned it...somehow your words turned into a clear ringing honesty about the important things in your life and that calls all of us (well, its calling me) to be honest and clear also...about my own stuff...in a healthy way.
    If I knew you better I'd say *I love you* and will you please be my friend cause i sure do need people like you walking beside me!!!

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    1. Yes, I second what Annette said - you don't need anything from us. You already got it all from Jesus and Cory. And you've already got our love and our friendship. That's a done deal. Thank you for being willing to give us your un-fine, real life so we can feel safe sharing ours back with you.

      I could not esteem you more.
      LJ

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  6. Wow. Just wow. You bared your soul beautifully. Glory to God :)

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  7. God's grace and the power of forgiveness once again create beauty from the ashes.

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  8. I feel honored to have read this. You're beautiful.

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  9. I hope this goes viral because it's beautiful and a blessing to each single person that reads it.

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  10. Thanks for sharing---brokenness truly does bind us together! Your testimony will no doubt be a beacon of hope--because none of us are perfect and it helps those searching out there to know Christ followers aren't perfect!

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  11. Thank you! you brought to light what I came across In my reading this morning "certain saving graces flow from the realization that our sins and failings are a real part if us. We no longer have to repress our evil, wasting precious energy pretending we cannot see what's wrong with us. Lets be honest: it is only lack of imagination or opportunity that prevents us from committing every sin known to humankind....we are all born half beasts half gods and it takes some of us half a lifetime to admit that we are hybrid humans...learn a lesson from the humble caterpillar. he is a fuzzy ugly worm; when he becomes all that he can be he empties himself into a cocoon, becoming even less than he was. this must be an excruciating experience, to spin yourself into your own slime, wait in datkness to die-and suddenly be surprised with wings! That would be something like a person covering themselves in their own sins, being considered less than human, going through the dark night of the soul, dying to themselves-then being surprised by resurrection!" Rev. James T Smith

    Thanks for sharing your resurrection story. You are a brave warrior!

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    1. This quote: "Lack of imagination or opportunity..." what a scary/true thought!
      Love you, lady.

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  12. Love your heart! You inspire me in ways I had not previously imagined.

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  13. You are one of the wisest and most beautiful people I know, Shannan Martin. I often think of things you've told me, things I'll always remember. Thank you for being so real, so Jesus like. xo forever.

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  14. Your so real! And right! I think it's releasing to share and so helpful to others, but is oh so hard!

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  15. I love you and the way you tell the story of Jesus.
    xo

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  16. I love you to the moon and back, Farmgirl.

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  17. you are amazing! thanks for sharing. may we all follow your lead. God Bless you BIG!

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  18. So incredible!!! I am always blown away by the way God uses you to speak His truth and am touched by the way that you open up your story and ultimately His story in order to allow the rest of us to see who God is and how He loves us!! Love you more than you know! Thank you!!

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  19. So if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed. John 8:36

    Sharing our brokenness in truth is such a relief. Thanks for modeling this in humility.

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  20. It's amazing how his grace is truly the sweetest sound. And how he saved a wretch like me. And the freedom that comes from being found is life changing. We are truly different people when we truly realize the cleansing that we receive by his grace alone. Beautiful words this morning. Thank you!

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  21. <3 I smile when I think about how God uses us not in spite of our mistakes but through them. You made a horrible mistake. Cory dug deep and showed you grace. Because of that in real life tangible expression, I would imagine you can understand God's redemption from a more personal personal place. Now, years later you can offer your children a deeper level of grace because you know what it's like to desperately need it. And, you know what it's like to have it wrapped around you. (I found it feels a bit like someone is squeezing a wet sponge above you and somehow the grace drips and soaks in and expands parts of you you didn't even realize had dried up.)

    Isn't it amazing how God then gave you and Cory an opportunity to raise 4 children and you get to express love and grace to them from a place that is deep and personal. It's a language you've spoken, a place you've been, you've lived it. I shouldn't be, but I'm amazed at the plans He has for us.

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  22. Thank you for sharing this. I had a lengthy affair that was disclosed less than a year ago. My husband and I were both on staff at a mega-church, and the leadership made the decision to announce my affair and then they also decided to dismiss my husband from his position as a Pastor at their church. His dismissal was far worse than the announcement. Somehow they couldn't wrap their minds around a woman choosing badly. It had to be his fault as well.
    Needless to say, the last 10 months have been a whirlwind of change. Change and sadness. Change and goodness.
    During my affair I had allowed my blog to expire. I was paying for a site, and I allowed it to go under, along with everything else I was allowing to go under. After the disclosure, I was drawn to writing as a way to process what was happening. I began to post the blogs about our journey. Unintentionally, I found myself discovering a lot about "affair recovery". When the Lord leads, I post what we are learning.
    There have been conversations and emails from people who don't understand my transparency with something so shameful. I appreciate what you have shared because it is another reminder of the need for that type of transparency. For every one person that has wondered why I would blog, there have been numerous people who have expressed a desire for more people in the world to live authentically. They have responded to me publicly and privately with wounds of their own.

    You wrote, "I know now this secret won't come between me and my image, or my future. It can't possibly come between my close friendships, or me and those who love me truest. But hiding it will separate me from anyone who has inadvertently placed me on a pedestal. Holding onto it will come between me and the ones I love who wear their brokenness more visibly than I was ever brave enough to do. Distancing myself from my mistakes will stand in the way of me and you and our fragile hope for authentic community." I heard, "Keep writing, Jackie."
    Thank you for that.

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    1. I don't know what to say, Jackie, which is rare for me. Keep being you, the you that God made. I'm proud of you!

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    2. I'm sorry that you and your husband were not able to find grace and support within the church. It's so sad that in this "hospital for sinners" we're expected to live perfectly and never fail. I pray that you will experience uncommon grace, not only at the foot of the cross, but in the arms of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who also fail and are in need of redemption.

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  23. I imagine it the same way, where I'm closeted off in a side room reserved for step cousins and crazy aunts. But we're sinking, aren't we, and instead of death it's an ocean of grace, and I come alive for the very first time. We can breathe in here.

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    1. I love your words here, Nic! In sinking there is life!

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  24. thank you for this. thank you so much.

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  25. What a beautiful testimony to God's amazing grace!

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  26. You are brave and courageous for sharing all the sides of your life. As a child, it was a turning moment in my relationship with my mom when I realized she was human and not perfect like I'd always thought her to be. It was freeing because if she wasn't perfect that meant I didn't have to be either.

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  27. What a gift you gave Robert with your honesty. And us. I am deeply grateful.

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  28. So beautiful,…so honest,..on so many levels. You have touched my heart and soul, in the deepest parts. Thank you!

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  29. God is using you in amazing ways. I too have been saved from a shameful, sin filled past. Lauren Daigle's song "How Can It Be" speaks to my heart on so many levels:

    I am guilty
    Ashamed of what I’ve done, what I’ve become
    These hands are dirty
    I dare not lift them up to the Holy one

    CHORUS:
    You plead my cause
    You right my wrongs
    You break my chains
    You overcome
    You gave Your life
    To give me mine
    You say that I am free
    How can it be
    How can it be

    I’ve been hiding
    Afraid I’ve let you down, inside I doubt
    That You still love me
    But in Your eyes there’s only grace now

    CHORUS:
    You plead my cause
    You right my wrongs
    You break my chains
    You overcome
    You gave Your life
    To give me mine
    You say that I am free
    How can it be
    How can it be

    Though I fall, You can make me new
    From this death I will rise with You
    Oh the grace reaching out for me
    How can it be
    How can it be

    CHORUS:
    You plead my cause
    You right my wrongs
    You break my chains
    You overcome
    You gave Your life
    To give me mine
    You say that I am free
    How can it be
    How can it be

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  30. Oh, Shannan, how I love you! Your ability to share the words God speaks through you brings me to tears. You are such a true role model. We put you on a pedestal because you have this uncanny ability to put our thoughts into words and make us feel like you are walking right beside us even if I'm down south and you're in the Midwest. You make us all feel like your closest friends. Thank you for that. Truly.

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  31. What a brave liberating post. We can pretty much create our own hell can't we? I'm happy you've walked through that dark valley and came through it to bring meaning and inspiration to other people's lives

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  32. What brings me joy each time I read your posts, is that even without you saying the words, I KNOW that you have lived through pain and regret, and yet Jesus has strengthened you and guided you to share not just the gritty, but also the JOY and amazement at His love, His redemption, His walk that He has called you to- and THAT dear Shannan is why I love your blog!

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  33. My heart is pounding. These words...I have felt so much secret ugly lately. There is just so much junk that has made itself comfortable in my heart and head. As a pastor's wife with a church full of already shattered people and my only friends being tied to ministry, I desperately look around for someone to see me. I long for someone to pull me out of my self built cavern. Then I read this. I can't stop tears. This is the reality I needed to read at this moment. I know this will impact many, but I feel like it was meant for me. Thank you for being you. Thank you for being Jesus. Thank you for giving this for the sake of others. I can't even begin to explain its impact on me...

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  34. Dear Shannon ~ Your honest post from your heart has touched me deeply, tears were spilling over as I read your story. I, too, am a sinner saved by God's grace.

    We have all sinned and come short of God's glory. Guilt can eat us up, but Jesus sets us free. Love heals, love strengthens, love grows.

    Thank you for your glowing testimony.

    FlowerLady

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  35. Jesus in you. . .beautiful and overwhelming in the most powerful way. Thank you for this post.

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  36. I didn't think I could love you more. When you said, "I lost part of my reputation, and it needed to go." it hit home. We could all stand to loosen our grip a bit and grow in Him. I am reminded and amazed how Gods glory shines. The redemption, love and praise in this post are encouraging and inspiring. My favorite post to-date.

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  37. Many years ago, before I even really ever knew what regrets were, I vowed not to have regrets. I somehow knew as a young teen that to live with regrets would not be good.

    Later, as a young adult and still wanting to live withoutbregrets, I learned what it feels like to make decisions which could very much be regretful. Still, somehow, I also knew that to not make certain decisions would have been worse for me, for that time and with the information I knew.

    Today, I also know that even if a similar instance to the one I refer here, I would make a different choice. I have more information and I know myself more, so things are different.

    Nometheless, I can go to that place. The one of regret over a decision or two. The best way for me, is to release those feelings with the knowledge that I have a great life, provided by my a Higher Power. :)

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  38. Your words inspired a new level of depth to my understanding of how to build bridges. Thank you for them because I know there was a cost;)

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  39. this was brave, girl. ten years after the fact--you didn't have to let that come to light. nope, that could've stayed private history. but then He couldn't use it for His-story or His glory. i loved the turning point in the story when you said that you don't want another woman to suffer alone, thinking she's the only one. my husband confessed his addiction to pornography to me when we'd been married almost ten years. if we hadn't already been in a very small, intimate Bible study where the other two men also confessed this to their wives so we all could be broken together, i would've been in a very dark place.

    today, you, as more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus, kicked the enemy in the teeth. ALL praise be to our Emmanuel!

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  40. Love wins! Thank you for risking yourself for the redemption of others & the glory of the redeemer. Now I see more clearly your capacity to love and extend grace. And I love you all the more for it. I feel like God is smiling and I hear a faint echo of the song He is singing over you in His pleasure.

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  41. Transparency= authenticity. Thank you for trusting your readers with this.

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  42. My favorite phrase- beauty out of ashes. Indeed. He makes beautiful things. Love you!

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  43. This is amazing GRACE! This is amazing LOVE! What a God we serve! Thank you for being real, for being honest, for believing TRUTH! I love you and love your ministry! Write on, friend!

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  44. I read this earlier this morning, and I wanted to comment, but wasn't sure where my words were.
    My dad had affairs, but instead of running to Christ and good counsel, he left. I was twelve when he left permanently. And that has shaped my life for good and for bad (but honestly, by the grace of God, more for the good). But when I read your words today I felt like the air got knocked out of me for a moment, as I wished things could have been different with my dad. Over two decades have come and gone, and he still makes choices that make it impossible to have a relationship with, though I have tried multiple times.It hurt, even all of these years later.
    But I wanted you to know that your story gives me hope. Just because there are stories like my dad's, doesn't mean every story ends that way. There is grace and power and forgiveness and new life just waiting for all of us. Every decision in my life that I am ashamed of (and there are many), I can bring to the Father and trusted loved ones and be freed. And I need not be afraid of being transparent with people about my flaws and struggles. Thank you for sharing your story. It has brought a new dose of healing to my heart.

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  45. I love how real you are. Thank you for sharing your struggles and your growth and the hope for all through Christ. You are inspiring!

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  46. This post made me cry. It moved me so much. Thank you for your candid trust in us who come here for your incredible words. They always lift my spirit and warm my heart.

    Lisa.

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  47. Beautiful. Powerful. Real. It's what we all need more of. Thank you!

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  48. "Without our scars, we are separated." This is as true as truth can get! These words are going to stick with me for some time. Thank you.... <3

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  49. Shannan, I wish I could give you a hug and chat over a cup of coffee. Thank you for sharing your story and these God-inspired and love filled words. I needed to hear and feel them.

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  50. we are all sinners reconciled. not one of us better or worse, not one of us more or less.
    you are the real deal shanahan. way to be vulnerable. way to be brave with your whole life - not just the easy parts.
    i love your heart more than ever.
    xoxo

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  51. Shannan. Love you so much. Love that you are sharing this on here. Forever grateful to have been in your small group at Hope Spoken. This.is.beautiful.

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  52. every time i make my way here, your honesty and bravery wreck me in all the best ways.
    i read matthew 5: 14-16 yesterday in the message, and i want you to know...you're being beautiful salt and light. you are opening up your life to others, and it is prompting us to draw close to the lord with our own broken stories.

    your story with God is beautiful. thankful for your marriage this morning and God's grace that has carried it.

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  53. Isn't the way of the broken cross the best possible way to live? Thank you for your authentic vulnerability and bravery to share your story. You did good and I am grateful for your beating heart and sweaty hands that hit publish. May He bless others in crashing waves of grace because of this post.

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  54. oh how He loves us.
    thank you for being so open.
    not sure I could ever be so brave but that is why it is so easy to love you.
    xo ellie

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  55. Shannon, thank you for this intimate look into your soul. I can relate. I've only told my story, fully, one time. It was so hard. I'm not "healed" completely. Not yet. But I snuggle into the arms of my Father and find comfort. Can't wait to see what God gives you to write about in 2015.

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  56. You just took the weapons against yourself and all of us sisters out of the enemy's hands. We are safe in our Redeemer and the Lover of our souls. That's enough to revel in for now and all eternity. We love you, Shannan.

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  57. This is why I'm glad there's an Internet. Bless you, and your family.

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  58. As I read your post the song by Robert Manzano called "Beauty for Ashes" came to mind.... Even in our brokeness and our sin, as unfortunate as those failures are, God is so amazing to show us His saving grace and His compassionate heart to pull us up out of that pit we have dug for ourselves and lead us through His path of redemption. Thank you for sharing. I think we (the corporate Christian world, I mean) so often forget that we are called to the broken and the sinners and that if we would be willing to be open and honest about our mistakes and our failures and show the world that by the grace of Jesus only we still stand - I truly believe it is only then that God can truly begin to use us to show others that if he can redeem us for our sins and mistakes than he can forgive and redeem them.

    Thank you for your honesty and your courage to share not only what is easy, but those hard things as well.... It is your honesty that helps me remember that Jesus doesn't stop loving me through my mistakes and is there with his arms open wide to give forgiveness and show us His compassion.

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  59. Shannan, thank you so much for bearing your soul and being so honest. Praising God for another example of His grace and mercy. This is an amazing way to show Robert that God didn't come into the world to save the righteous but to call sinners to repentance. I have been reminded more and more recently of how our righteousness is like filthy rags. I am continually brought back to the story of the thief on the cross and how he did nothing for God. All he did was turn to Jesus and believe. Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. Thank you again for your witness. God didn't stop loving you and we won't either!

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  60. Thank you for sharing. How beautiful to think that in the end we will FULLY know the great equalizer of grace, thrown face down before our King who did everything for we who have done nothing.

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  61. What beautiful words. Not many know my story and I still deal with guilt. It's hard to overcome it. I have had several affairs and each one I have let my husband know about. It was such horrible pain that I had brought upon him but each time he forgave and loved me like Jesus. there is no space to here to "dump" my story but as a pastors wife sometimes the pain of others knowing and judging is so hard. I hope one day to have the words to share about the grace that has been shown to me but sometimes I feel like I still have a lot of healing to do.

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  62. Thank you so much for writing this Shannan. Sometimes I don't know how vulnerable and transparent I should be with my sin. But the hiding only serves myself. I want to keep that perfect reputation. But realize God can't use me to help others if all I'm worried about is how other people perceive me. I pray God heals my mask of perfection!

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  63. I always feel like I've gained something when I come to your part of the internet. Thank you for being you.

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  64. All I can say right now, is THANK YOU for this. It is a rad pellet inserted directly into the tumor.

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  65. once again, your words . . . God's story. thanks for your honesty and vulnerability. it's beautiful. it feels so good to be in your company . . . a sinner saved only by the amazing grace of God.

    so often, my lack of trust and faith in God is oh so great. simply because my life hasn't turned out how i thought it would or how i wanted. i've turned my back on him so often. i get tired of the hurt, the pain, the hard. and i walk away. only to find that He's still there and still extending grace. we are blessed. oh so blessed.

    much love, my friend. and when is it that you'll be in town again?! : )

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  66. I wish I could give you a great big hug right now. And share a Kleenex.
    xo

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  67. Thank you, thank you for sharing a piece of your story here. For every comment affirming that YES we all have stuff we'd rather keep hidden, there are probably many more that still need that encouragement to live courageously, authentically, to bring the skeletons out so that they may display the glory of our Redeemer.

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  68. You are pretty much my favorite person on IG and blogland because you are so real and unique and your love of our Father feels so real. This post makes me respect you even more and to God our Abba be all the glory!

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  69. Oh my goodness! Thank you for being so vulnerable with your transparency. This is my first time reading your blog and I am blessed by your humility. You touched on something that we need to be reminded of over and over and over again. Thank you for letting God use you!

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  70. he who has been forgiven much, loves much.

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  71. Such an incredibly beautiful and honest post. I love how God is pushing His body to a realization that our identity is not fixed on what we do but on what He has done for us.

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  72. It's remarkable that He has seen every ounce of our suffering and every bit to come (self-inflicted and otherwise) and just keeps on saying "I already did that! I already took all the suffering. None of that ever was or is yours to bear anymore. You get my embrace and my nearness and my freedom."

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  73. You are a gift from God to so many. You are so honest and have so much live for everyone. Many hugs for tge best year ever that is ahead of you.

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  74. Beautifully written. Especially the words to describe your husband loving you through the shame. Our dark has to come to the Light to be healed, sometimes publicly and sometimes not.


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  75. I think it's good that you can be so honest about a time that exposes you such a way. I have to say I greatly admire your husband as I'm sure you sharing such a hurtful time was not easy for him either & for him to have the courage to work through this time with you. I am happy for you both & I can only hope your marriage & you as individuals have been strengthened by the whole experience as you no doubt deserve.

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  76. I love you so much for writing this, didn't think I coukd love you more 😊!

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  77. You're my favorite blogger. I try to find one I like better, but I fail. This is even though you regularly make me uncomfortable with my American Christian life. Thank you for writing truth and grace.

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  78. As someone who has been in your shoes (12 years ago), thank you for sharing. Despite the fact that God redeemed me and our marriage (I also have one awesome, forgiving hubby), I have always felt incredibly alone in this, as if no one could possibly understand or relate. God worked in such big ways through this trial but I've always kept them to myself for fear of the judgement of others. Thank you for being real, raw, honest - for helping me realize that God can use my messy story for His glory.

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  79. I read this the day you posted it and haven't been able to let it go since. I don't even know what words to use to tell you how much I admire your bravery in sharing this bit of you. I can imagine your heart pounding as you typed out these words and the sweaty palms as you hit publish but I think when you did you opened up a whole new door that the Lord's going to use for His glory. Like you said, "our brokenness binds us together" and I'm pretty sure you just bound yourself to so many in sharing this. Really proud of you & Cory for sharing this part of your story. (does that sound weird? you know what I mean)

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  80. Sending you all the big love for writing this big post. My favorite part: "But we forget the real suffering already happened."

    Girl, that's the Gospel. The real suffering and the real shame -- it's done. And if we can receive this, it's the road to real freedom. Hoping and praying that your honesty and redemption is a safe invitation for hurting others to begin walking their own road to healing and freedom. Happy New Year and wishing you so much freedom and joy this year!

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  81. " We picture ourselves in a separate room off to the side. He forgives us, but surely we can't roll with the rest of them." - - those words right there completely describe how I've been feeling for years - - trying to keep my head up but still hiding in the corner, believing my past has kept me and will keep me from being all I was supposed to be.
    It's so hard to truly believe sometimes, when we've really messed up, it's by grace and not by works. I have a feeling, if I let it, this post could be the catalyst to drop my chains - I will put this in writing where I can see it "He loves you too much to allow you one more step in shame."

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  82. "And still, we are His. He finds us reeking of poverty and reaches out to us. His t-shirt is wet with our tears and He cries into our hair because He wants us to feel our freedom. He loves us. He loves you."

    And we are His portion and He is our prize,
    Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
    If his grace is an ocean, we're all sinking.
    And Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
    And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
    I don't have time to maintain these regrets,
    When I think about the way...

    He loves us,
    Oh, how He loves us.

    So much truth in your post. Sin conquered. Forgiven. Freed. Reconciled! Redeemed.

    I've struggled to come up with words to say but thanks for pointing me back to Jesus and the truth of the gospel yet again.


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  83. Well Done. From across the screen I applaud you...the voice of truth. God is in control and love is eternal. We live so much in the snapshot world (dirtiness of the sin we're in) in stead of seeing God lives in a real world of moment (This too will pass in the shadow of the Almighty). My latest post -meditational writing - shows how this worked in I am Your God - Sovereign - http://www.chrismalkemes.com

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  84. Way to go, sister! You are setting captives free all over the internets.

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  85. oh shannan
    this is so huge.
    God's ability to make something graceful out of our awkward floundering mess is made evident in your story.
    how generous of you to share it with me.

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  86. You have such a gift Shannon and thank you for sharing. There is so much shame inside when something like this happens and to know we are not alone is huge. Thank you.

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  87. I have never felt more surprised, full of love and felt such a sisterhood with you as I did reading this post. I feel like I can tell you my ugliest truths now and somehow just the knowledge that I could share them with you, lessens their ugliness. I wish that day at the farm we had sat at the picnic table and told each other how imperfect we are but this is a good second. And now I'm going to throw myself into my day, feeling like I no longer need to feel the burden of my shame. You did that for me. I am deeply grateful. Love to you Shanny.

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  88. You are so stunningly and hopelessly beautiful to me...and we've never met. HOW WEIRD IS THAT???!!! Oh. My. God. (and that is not a euphemism...it is an exclamation point from my heart to Him...) You just preached the gospel. And I love you for it.

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  89. Love you so much. Consider yourself hug-ged.

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  90. Wow...just wow. What a great piece..loved every word. I spent so much of my life condemning myself for the things I had done in my life that seemed so unforgivable and then one day in church it all just hit me....Jesus already paid that price. I have never felt more free. I love what you said about laying it out there for those that may have put you inadvertently on a pedestal.

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  91. thank you for reflecting Christ's immense and lavish LOVE and GRACE for us ALL by sharing your life! THANK YOU!!

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  92. i first read this on my phone and couldn't comment, but it's been tucked in the back of my mind since... and i wanted to make a special effort to get back over here to comment. because with something like this - when someone bears their soul, shows their real, we NEED to speak up. to let them know they are HEARD! and girl, i hear you! ~this beautiful freedom in realizing there is no shame or reason to hide, only grace upon grace and a God that redeems and uses it all. i can't say it loud enough how much this encouraged, inspired, and left me feeling that warm blanket comfort of, "what? you too?" i'm grateful to do life across this screen with women like you who challenge my life. {{thank you}}

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