Advent 2012: Setting Captives Free
…from broken relationships to reconciliation
“Thanks, Joe,” Jim answered. “I was afraid maybe I shared too much. But it felt so good to finally open up about my stuff, I just couldn’t stop.” Both men laughed. “And to share my secrets and then not feel shamed or judged by the group, I don’t know, I guess I always assumed that if people knew the real me, they would reject me.”
“That’s exactly how I felt before I was in recovery,” Joe said. “Hey, you want to go get a cup of coffee?”
“I would, Joe, but give me a rain check on that. There’s something I need to go do before I do anything else.” Jim reached out to shake Joe’s hand, but Joe pulled him in for a big hug.
“Call me if you need to talk later. You got my number,” Joe said.
Jim pulled out of the church parking lot with a lightness he had never felt before. Tears of joy streamed down his face as he drove back into town towards the hospital. Why should he feel such joy, he thought. His circumstances hadn’t changed one bit. His marriage was still on the verge of divorce, his mother was still in great pain and his dad was still dead, but for some reason, hearing the other men share their stories of defeat and triumph, gave him the encouragement he needed to move ahead.
When he arrived at the hospital, the butterflies in his stomach seemed to be trying to convince him to fly away with them. But he ignored their fluttering and headed to her room. When he opened the door, Justin jumped up in excitement. Jim reached down and swooped him up for a hug. Megan was feeding the baby and watching TV. Jim reached over and turned it off.
“Hey! I was watching that,” Megan protested.
“I know, but we need to talk,” Jim said. He put Justin down and got him playing with his action figures, then walked over and sat down on the edge of Megan’s bed. He took a deep breath, and then, for the first time in his life, opened up and shared his story with his wife. He told her about the abuse and how he’d always dealt with it by running away and isolating himself. He apologized for the way he had treated her and Justin and committed to do whatever it took to make things right, including attending Celebrate Recovery and marriage counseling.
Megan couldn’t help but be skeptical, as he’d promised to change many times before, yet as he continued sharing, her heart began to soften and she found herself desperately wanting to believe him.
“Will you please forgive me and give us another chance?” Jim asked, gently placing his hand on her leg. Megan reached down and placed her hand on his and smiled softly. Jim buried his head in her lap and cried tears of relief and gratitude.
Justin climbed on to the bed and put his hand on his daddy’s heaving shoulders.
“Daddy, I’m sorry I said you smelled funny. You don’t smell funny, you smell good.” Jim sat up and wrapped his little boy into his arms.
“No, son, you were right, I stink,” Jim said, laughing through his tears. He rubbed his whiskered face against Justin’s, making him squeal in delight. “But I promise, to you and to mommy and your baby sister, I’m gonna get cleaned up.”
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Advent Application: Love can make us do crazy things. It can also make us do difficult things, like saying “I’m sorry.” Making amends is hard, but it’s also very liberating. When Love came down at Christmas, it was God’s way of making amends on our behalf. So, if you are struggling with unforgiveness, let Love help you make amends this Christmas.
To read this story from the beginning, click here.