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Written by Alexander W. G. Seidel

We spend a lot of time promoting our good, while doing our best to diminish and all but hide our bad. This serves a purpose. We all have a deep unspoken fear that we’ll be abandoned or rejected if we expose our dark parts to others. If they truly knew about all of our wrongs, they’d want no part of us. Thus, we spend a great deal of time without having resolved our bad with our good. This leads to entrenched barriers to intimacy and relationship, compromising our ability to lead.

All of us since the fateful act of Adam and Eve share three realities::

– We have done wrong.
– We have been wronged.
– And we have experienced the fallout of events that have been out of our control.

All of these three realities are unavoidable to any of us. And so too, are the resulting guilt, shame, grief, fear or anger. Did you catch that? These are all unavoidable. Everyone since almost the beginning of time shares one or more of these difficult emotions.

And yet, we work very hard to hide all of these in a deep, sealed vault. Or we strain to shine the manure pile festering within so others would think highly of us. Or, perhaps, we are unaware of the malignant emotions within. Some of us have experienced trauma so horrific that we’ve buried our natural and necessary reactions deep within ourselves because they were unbearable. All of these angles leave us with unresolved bad and good.

These deep malignancies will inevitably express themselves in extreme judgement or legalism towards others, for how could we bear the imperfection of others that we can’t even begin to bear in ourselves. Or, they may tempt us into an anxious cultivation of an idealized image of the self, in which we seek status, grandiosity, and the consistent approval of others in order to be able to be in even trite relationships with them. Unresolved good and bad also lead to idealizing others or resisting anyone in power over us. In the end, none of these scenarios will lead us towards unconditional love or intimacy. The inauthenticity implicit in each of these expressions leaves us a mere facade and vastly compromises our ability to lead, shepherd, or disciple others.

How is it we can reconcile these opposing forces in our lives? How is it we can ditch the fig leaf to expose our human frailty in order that we might experience growth and change? It all comes down to this: We must confess our guilt, shame, grief, fear, or anger to someone in our lives that is warm, safe and supportive.

When I speak of confessing, I am not referring to an image of entering a booth and listing my sins to the priest. The image I’d like to catch here is the idea of “putting out into the light” and agreeing out loud with another what is already a reality: that God already knows and has already resolved the harm we’ve done and the harm done to us. It is easy to list our sins and flippantly ask God for healing in isolation. But it is profoundly difficult to bring our brokenness into light with another, expose our vulnerability, and ask humbly for our needs to be met — our need for reassurance and reminder of the wonder God created us to be. Sure only God has the wondrous power to heal our hurts, but somehow, He is sovereign enough to lavish this on us through our human relationships.

As we consider our roles as church leaders, regardless of our particular giftings, we would do well to deeply ponder the impacts of unresolved residual effects of brokenness in our lives, that is, the difficult emotions of guilt, shame, grief, fear or anger. Left unresolved, these will stunt and break us. To the extent that we have dealt with these openly and authentically is the extent to which our community of faith can truly grow through our leadership.

Perhaps you are harboring deep secrets and profound pain in your life due to some past trauma that has led you into hiding. Maybe you hurt deeply from the shame of actions that you find it impossible to share with others for fear of rejection, judgement, or abandonment. Perhaps you are deeply angry at someone for a harm done to you but it overwhelms you and terrifies you. Whatever the case, it is likely that the deep effects of your brokenness have you repeating patterns that fail to serve you or others well. Please know that we at Gracefall are here to help you get on the path towards healing. Drop us a line to see how we might be able to serve you. Your story is safe with us.

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