The Secret Sin I Said I'd Share in Ten Years, Ten Years Ago
Ten years and two days ago, I called Brandon from a Starbucks parking lot and told him I was going to die. I’d just ordered a double shot of espresso so I wouldn’t pass out, and my heart was beating too fast and I kept looking in my rearview mirror at my eyes because the whites of them looked gray. They’d been looking gray for a while. I’d been sometimes anorexic, but mostly bulimic, for three-and-a-half years at that point. It was a secret. I was consumed by it. I couldn’t stop living the way I was living. I was too proud to even speak any of it out loud. And I was so afraid.
I was sure that if I told anyone how I’d been living, they would reject me, hate me, stop loving me. You see, a lot had happened in those three-and-a-half years. I’d gotten a job at my church as the administrative assistant. I’d fallen in love with the worship pastor and MARRIED HIM. So, I was a pastor’s wife. And I was living this double life.
I wasn’t deceitful because I wanted to be. I was deceitful because I was terrified. I wanted to be holy. I wanted to be healthy. I wanted to be used by God. But, I had this bulimia I couldn’t beat. It was crushing me.
Because God is good and because I kept praying to Him in secret, crying and begging on my face that He’d heal me, He kept speaking to me and saying the exact same thing.
He kept leading me to this one verse in the Bible that I could find right now, blindfolded and upside down. It was like a weight hanging around my neck for all those miserable years.
“The one who conceals his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy.” -- Proverbs 28:13
Mercy. I’d never wanted anything so much and nothing felt further away.
God would put that offer in my heart and I’d audibly say back to Him, “But, I can’t. It will ruin my life to confess this. I can get past this without confessing. Please, Lord, give me the strength to do it on my own…”
And He didn’t give me that strength. He knew I couldn’t conquer sin and death with my own willpower. He knew He had already crushed on the cross everything that was crushing me. He knew I needed to humble myself before Him and walk with my brothers and sisters in the light of the gospel that was already true. But, I didn’t want to and there was no healing.
And then it was September 10th, with the espresso and the heart palpitations and the gray eyes, and I just knew I was going to die. My sin, my secret, was going to kill me.
So, reluctantly, after three-and-a-half years of proving I wasn’t strong enough, I obeyed. September 10, 2008, I made a phone call.
Brandon was in a meeting with another pastor. He picked up the phone and I think my lead in was, “I’m going to die. What I’m doing is killing me. I have to tell you a lot of things right now…”
And I told him a lot of things. All the things. I told him what my secret was. What it had made me into. The lies and the manipulation and the phoniness. I said it all out loud.
Rather than freaking out or leaving me or hanging up the phone, he was calm and somber and simple. He said he loved me and he insisted that I see a Christian counselor the next day.
And I did. And I wrote my name on a form in the waiting room of an office with a white noise machine and candles and green throw pillows.
Scarlet Hiltibidal Reason for visit: Bulimic Date: September 11, 2008
Just the act of writing it out was devastating to me. I sat in the session and I shared everything. And my sweet counselor surprised me by not being surprised. When you’re hiding a shameful secret, you always think people will be surprised if they know it. They rarely are.
She gave me a journal to keep, to write down the things I would experience and what I would eat before I made myself throw up. Since it was something I was doing daily, she assumed I’d have a full journal to share with her at our session the following week.
But, I never wrote anything in the journal, because it never happened again.
I left her office, full of shame with this little paper journal in my shaking hands. They were always shaking. But something was changing.
There was a church service that night and I walked in and sat in the balcony and felt so exposed. I didn’t know the people who were sifting into the rows around me, but I felt like they knew how disgusting I was. They didn’t. But the God who did know called me His beloved.
And then, I went home. And I’m not sure exactly when the miracle happened, but it was definitely that same day. Maybe in the lobby. Maybe in the parking lot. Maybe when I sat down in my car. Maybe it happened the moment I confessed. Whenever it was, God healed me that day.
September 11, 2008.
He pursued, He waited, He urged me to obey -- “Daughter, confess, and THEN, you will receive mercy…stop hiding and there can be healing. Stop fighting and there can be resting.”
I can’t even really think about it without crying. Jesus gave me a special, supernatural word, His Word, Proverbs 28:13. And I disobeyed Him for so long. But, then I didn’t, and the worn out prayer I’d been praying for years was answered. I found one moment of surrender, and He changed my whole life. He led me to the greatest moment of freedom I’ve ever known.
I felt it immediately. In my body. In my brain. Every urge to do dysfunctional things with food was gone. I was free.
That’s when I started telling people about Jesus. I’d been a Christian for years, but I didn’t understand how much I really needed Jesus until I experienced this miracle in my brokenness.
I witnessed to the guy at the CVS on the corner of 168th, and the people next to me at the laundromat in Pinecrest. I asked people in line at the Panera by my dentist if they had faith in God and if they would let me tell them what Jesus had just done in my life.
But, I didn’t feel like I should share any of this publicly. At some point, I decided I wanted God to give me ten years to hold onto it. I wanted to walk in freedom for ten years before I let the story out into the wild.
I thought if I didn’t hold onto it for a minute, people would be cynical. Because I’d spent so many years being cynical.
I thought something like, “God, I’ll share this story with people, but only one-on-one, as the opportunity presents itself. If you want me to really shout it out from the rooftops and tell people about this miracle You’ve done in me, can You just give me like ten years? That’s a good chunk, right? If I’m still healed, and still walking in freedom in ten years, then I think I can tell people about what You did. Then, maybe some other twenty-two-year-old who is obsessing and crying and starving and hiding will see and know and believe that repentance really is the path to mercy and Jesus really is enough. Let’s maybe just hold onto this story for a good ten years, God.”
Yesterday marked ten years. :)
I can’t believe how gently and kindly the Lord led me out of the mess I’d made of my life. I can’t believe He lets me live and laugh and parent and write and serve. I can’t believe He healed my body and let me become a mother. I didn’t deserve that. It’s just crazy.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that you should seek Him, and when He speaks to you through the living and active book He wrote, you should do what it says and experience the greatest freedom and deepest peace you never could have imagined existed. Maybe you won’t be healed the same day, but I’m sure you won’t be healed any other way.
We are weak and broken. Christ is in our place. The Father is calling and loving and healing.
I am living proof. To God be the glory.