Trish and I spent the weekend in Buda, Texas speaking at The Connection Church. Early Saturday morning, Trish was sitting on the couch and I was standing looking over my notes, when she looked up from her phone with a sad look on her face.
“Justin, I want you to know Brennan Manning passed away.” She was scrolling through Twitter and started seeing numerous Brennan Manning quotes and saw that he’d passed away on Friday.
A few months after the affair, Trisha and I began reading Abba’s Child together. God started pulling back layers of our heart that we’d never seen before. I’m convinced that without Abba’s Child, our marriage wouldn’t have survived, our ministry wouldn’t exist and I would still live with unresolved brokenness and wounds.
God used Abba’s Child in such powerful ways in my life, I had to include Brennan Manning in the acknowledgements in our book:
In 2009, Trish and I had just shared our story publicly for the first time and had been advised to start a blog. We weren’t sure if we should do it.
There is a lot of risk in sharing the messy and broken parts of your life. It would be easier to not share; easier to move on from our past and not keep talking about it. Around that same time, I came across this quote from Brennan Manning:
Christians who remain in hiding continue to live the lie. We deny the reality of our sin. In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others. We cling to our bad feelings and beat ourselves with the past when what we should do is let it go. As Dietrich Bonhoffer said, “guilt is an idol.” But when we dare to live as forgiven men and women, we join the wounded healers and draw closer to Jesus.
That became the heartbeat of RefineUs. This is a community of wounded healers overcoming fear and shame to bring light into the dark parts of our heart, and hopefully inspiring others to do the same.
For many of us the church hasn’t been the place we have gone for healing, but rather a place to conceal our wounds. We live with guilt as our identity instead of forgiveness. We’ve learned that living the lie is a lot more acceptable than coming out of hiding.
I don’t know where you are in your life today. Maybe you have realized that you can’t erase your past, so maybe you can outrun it…but you are tired and worn out. Maybe your life is filled with fear and shame and you can’t see past your own guilt to even begin to embrace the love of Christ. Maybe you have tried so hard to hide your woundedness that you’ve lost your belief that healing is possible.
This is a community of wounded healers. We are mess-ups and failures. We have lied and cheated and envied and hated.
But guilt is not our idol.
Shame does not define us.
Darkness doesn’t have the last word.
Redemption is our story.
Together, with many thanks to Brennan Manning, we are drawing closer to Jesus.