Originally this was going to be long and personal, but God just spoke to me and said, "not all of your story is for everyone to know." I will respect this word.
What I do want to share is this incredible obvious but lost or ignored way to bring people into God's heart. That is to be "real." Where I am from, to be real is to be vulnerable, not just truthful. Real recognizes real. As I turned this post personal, I will tell you that this is what I have been missing in my relationships with men and in turn with women. I say that because God has been healing me of incredible spirits of shame, brokenness of heart, and restoring my view of God as Father.Through authentic relationships with brothers and sisters. Most of my adult Christian life has been ruled by Christian do's and don'ts. Some of us are aware that rules do not bring life or freedom. But because we are far from being real with one another maybe because of insecurity, sin in our own lives, shame, or fear of men; we have lead each other into fear based relations. Fear isn't in the formula for love. Yet this is the seed we are planted from when we are young Sunday school students.
Do not read on if your scared of real heart or experiences.
In my mind what I did equaled God's value of me and how much he loved me. That was communicated to me through relationships I had with other Christians. For example, if a man stood in front of your normal bible believing church and declared he had a sex addiction, even people struggling with said addiction would look at him like some lost soul who was never saved. But will anyone ever comfort him and walk him through it? You would like to think so. We acknowledge the sin and don't consider the heart. What if the guy would go on to say, he was molested as a child, and grew up with out a father and so was confused. But when fear is sowed in shame keeps these things in. Not a chance to share that. People just don't care how you got there. They care that you sinned. Our church in general is too scared to handle these problems. There is no place to be real. Unhealed people are too insecure in their imperfect walks. I know because I was one. Too busy running programs, and not running after God's heart to heal hearts. We can tell you how to run a church but not show you how to be a church. The other half of Jesus' model was that he walked through life with people.
Let me get personal.
My struggle in trying to find what a man of God is, was made a lot more difficult because there were no honest vulnerable men showing me how. I saw perfection and rules. Surface level functions without loving relationships. It took me, 24 years to finally meet a man who considered my heart and what kind of a man God wanted me to be instead what he didn't want me to do. If those you look up to and disciple you are vulnerable and honest and show them selves as people struggling, and unsure at times, wouldn't that freedom cause you to open up. Because that kind of freedom lives in healed people. And a healed person can do amazing things in God's kingdom. This truly didn't happen to me until I met REAL men.
I recently attended a Men's retreat. I was skeptical. I knew only three guys there. I had been to retreats like this before. Maybe some cute little sermons would be preached and a guy would cry. Nope. Just honest testimonies, 11 hours of silence with the lord, and some man time. It started with the vulnerability of the leadership. But also knowing the men leading it, it allowed me to trust the process. And knowing that the men also cared and loved the other men in the room deeply, created a safe atmosphere for freedom. We were in the presence of healed, vulnerable, confident, unafraid men of God. I can't share details because of confidence to the other men who where there but the Holy Spirit healed hearts, broke chains of addiction, shame was lost, sins were confessed, and freedom was real to us. Did it mean these guys would never mess up? Probably not. What it did mean is now we had a small army of men who would fight with us. That wouldn't judge but would encourage. There is a difference when a man looks you in the eye and says you can.
In just a little time, some of the most dramatic healing in my life has occurred. No special speaker, or step program. Pure real honest relationships. But to be honest I had to allow God to do this. I had been running from my self. I had been subconsciously trained to never show my faults because it would mean I wasn't God's. Even sins that had been committed against me. My Christianity was defined on how much I could keep inside. God wants it all. Thank goodness for that.