One of the worst things about sin and suffering are how they isolate you. Your struggles are bad enough, but the real killer isn’t the issue itself, it’s trying to cover it up. You feel ashamed or weird and so you back off from other people. Even if you haven’t done anything wrong, you feel like you’ve got something to hide. You act like you’re revolting and then you start to believe it. You become a self-fulfilling shame prophecy. Like Mr Messy, all tangled feelings and inside-out.
It seems simpler to manage the problem yourself. For one thing, you’re not sure how to explain it. At times it seems crazy, even to yourself. How on earth could anyone else understand? Sure, you’ve helped out others – even those with similar struggles. But the same rules don’t apply to you. You don’t deserve grace. You’re uniquely messed up.
You see, that’s another thing. You know the gospel in your head, but not in your stomach. The scriptures about grace and forgiveness seem to have gotten stuck somewhere round your ribs. In fact, they’re choking you.
You’re a Christian, but you don’t act like it. If you really believe the gospel, if you really love God, why can’t you just stop? You must hate Jesus to drag Him into such sin. You would pray, but God would probably hang up or ignore the call.
Yes we’re saved by grace – and even forgiven when we make mistakes. But not ones like this. Not every week – or even day. The conclusion is obvious. You’re not really a Christian. And if you are, it’s by the hair of your teeth.
Then there’s other people. Even Christians. Especially Christians. They do care. But only so much. Even if you did open up, there’d be a time limit to pulling it together. You’ve only got a certain number of ‘lives’ before others walk away. Best not to bother.You don’t want to be a burden. A drain. You don’t deserve help.
Funny thing is, if someone came to you in the same situation, you’d welcome them with outstretched arms. You’d point them to the Lord whose arms are always open. You might not have the answers, but you’d stand with them. You’d hug them and love them and pray for them and fight with them. You’d remind them that they’re valuable and dearly loved – even in the middle of their worst struggles. Even if they don’t feel it themselves.
But in your case it’s not the same. Not the same at all.