By Chris Denning
A few weeks ago, Matt, Don, Zack and I were brainstorming about how we could create a few posts for this month centered around our series, Fracture: Finding Hope in the Pain.
We wanted to do something that would be encouraging to read, but also help whoever read them better understand what a fracture is in our stories. We decided to take a chance and take a moment to share a bit of our own stories.
Over the next few weeks, you’re going to get to read a story from each of us about how we experienced a fracture in our story, how it impacted us, and how we ended up responding.
These stories are pretty honest and raw, and our hope is that you will see that if you’re going through a fracture right now, you’re not alone. This isn’t the end. There is hope. We’ve found an absolute Hope in our pain, and we know that you can too.
Let me start with the end in mind. In this series, you’ve heard us say that every fracture has a purpose, and that it is an opportunity for hope or despair. This was absolutely true in my case.
A Normal Christian Student
In college, I was fortunate enough to be a part of a church I loved, where I would lead worship, as well as be a part of a great on-campus ministry. I was involved in some kind of summer project with a ministry every summer, I was leading a small group, and I looked like a pretty normal Christian college student.
My senior year, I was dating a girl I had met the previous summer who happened to live far away. Things were normal, my life was on track. I mean, things were good.
However, things really weren’t good.
In Reality. . .
The truth is that my relationship at the time was unhealthily physical, I had allowed leading worship to become something I did to inflate my ego & gain attention, and I let my pride build up to a dangerous level which made me feel invincible, untouchable.
Pride is the key accelerant in my story.
My pride caused me to believe that I could hold myself to a different standard, that I didn’t need to control myself privately when I was such a successful “Christian” publically. I didn’t need to have physical boundaries in my relationship because my pride let me justify why it was ok for us.
Up to this point, no one could see the cracks, the blemishes, in my life. From the outside, I looked like a good guy who led worship at a great church, had a great relationship with a great girl, and was on the right path to life beyond college.
But in reality, in all honesty, I was a prideful boy who desired no accountability but expected all the recognition and benefits that come from being a man of integrity, without any of the discipline. It was at the height of my pride and hubris that I positioned myself for this fracture, because of one terrible decision, one ridiculously foolish night.
I decided to cheat on my girlfriend with someone I barely knew, because I thought I would get away with it. No, in my pride, I knew I would get away with it.
However, the entire situation blew up, and my selfish decision cost me my relationship with a girl I cared about, the ability to lead worship at the church I loved, and had exposed me very publicly as the fraud I was.
To say I was broken is an understatement.
I couldn’t bring myself to leave my room for weeks. I couldn’t face my friends, my leaders. I just couldn’t do it. The shame, embarrassment, and dishonor my decision had brought into my life, as a result of my pride, was almost unbearable.
For the first time in my life, I felt truly worthless, like a complete fake. I had hurt myself and those closest to me because I chose to believe the lie that I knew best. To make things worse, I had completely soiled my relationship with God with my toxic pride. I treated Him like a good idea rather than my savior. As a suggestion rather than my absolute Hope.
I had made my bed, and I laid in it for months, literally.
Life in the Aftermath
Fortunately, I had great family and friends who stood by me and helped to pick me up. I had no hope because I had no perspective. I had forgotten the key ingredient that allows us all to have hope: the grace of Jesus.
Slowly, I was able to accept the grace Jesus was pouring out in abundance. I was able to walk through some counseling with good mentors and begin to see how my pride had rotted my character from the inside out in order to learn how to deal with it.
You see, once I remembered the grace of God, I was able to find hope in my pain.
It wasn’t easy. It hurt, a lot. There were days I didn’t think I would make it through. But, through Jesus, I was able to find hope again.
Remember how I said in the beginning that every fracture has a purpose? At the time, I didn’t believe this, or at least I couldn’t see it. However, I can now see how God needed to do a work in me then so that He could use me as He has.
My New Perspective
Without this fracture, I would have never dealt with my pride so seriously. I would have never been able to work on that issue and establish better standards for how I live my life.
Without this fracture, I would have never made a trip to Fresno, CA to have some time with a trusted friend. I would have never had a conversation with his lead pastor, who decided to take a chance on a kid and give him a job in ministry right out of college.
Without this fracture, I would have never taken a job in Fresno, CA, which set me on a course to end up here. I would have never been able to enjoy this incredible season of ministry at Journey, the best of my life!
Without this fracture, I would have never met that beautiful girl at the church where I worked. I wouldn’t have the joy and love I experience daily with her now. I wouldn’t be awaiting the arrival of our first daughter in a few months.
Without this fracture, I would not have become the person I am today.
This fracture caused some of the worst pain of my life. However, this fracture also set in motion the events that led me to my wife, provided my little girl, and allowed me to have my dream job. I’m able to have hope today because I have perspective, by the grace of God.
To Those Without Hope
I know there is someone reading this who is in the middle of experiencing a fracture. Let me say this to you: there is Hope. I know its hard to see now, but I’ve lived it. I’ve felt it. I’ve known it. When you understand, I mean honestly understand the grace of God, you will find hope in your pain.
I think Matt summed up my story best when he said this:
There is no FRACTURE that God cannot HELP US BEAR, BRING HEALING to, or COMPLETELY REDEEM if we are surrendered to Him and living in His amazing grace.