God has been taking me through a season of reflection and repentance. I am realizing more and more that there are some ways where I have been self-focused and have fallen short with people. He is showing me how important it is that I take responsibility for ways I have hurt or let down people in the past.
It is a raw and a very necessary journey into my heart and hopefully into yours. Throughout my life I have rejected God’s mercy because it came clothed in failure and disappointment. I didn’t recognize it because I believed what every other American is taught from a young age: I can do anything I want. Life is mine for the taking. Nothing can stop me!
Now I see it is simply not true.
I love the way Richard Rohr talks about too much success at an early age. You know the stories: the young athlete who gets the big contract, the young preacher who gets the stage too quickly, the young entrepreneur who has big success in business too instantly. In his book “Immortal Diamond”, Rohr says:
“A too early or too successful self becomes a total life agenda, occasionally for good but more often for ill… Our ongoing curiosity about our True Self seems to lessen if we settle into any ‘successful’ role. We have then allowed others to define us from the outside, although we do not realize it.”
This defines me very well: a lot of success in business and in ministry at an early age has hindered me from growing as an adult. I have literally been trapped in the first half of life, and I am just getting to my “True Self”— the self that does not need success, people, position, money, and power to define it.
I have walked far too long in what Rohr calls our “Little-Self”, as the boy inside wanting to be seen, justified and accepted. The little boy that is trapped by performance and achieving.
Once we are awakened to the simple flow of God’s love, once we come to the conclusion that “Everything belongs”—the good stuff, the bad stuff, even the evil stuff all belong, once we realize that we do not need success after about the age of 30, as it only feeds our ego, or “False-Self” – and that all things in life, success and failure, are necessary, we can finally breathe.
We can allow pain to teach us its lesson. We can look at our failures, our success, and everything in-between with a smile.
Getting closer to my “True-Self” has been hard for me. I feel vulnerable, raw, uncovered, and even ashamed at times. I am writing emails, making phone calls and reaching out to all the people in my past whom I may have mislead in any way. I am talking to those that have felt used by me, those who have felt I have TAKEN from them, and not given, and anyone in my past that I have lied to or manipulated.
I had a past ministry partner call me just days before we moved here to Spain. We had held un-forgiveness in our hearts toward one-another for 17 years! It affected our families, the students we had ministered to and with, and many more. When we spoke, we wept, we released, and we forgave. Now we communicate regularly again and are both set free.
I can tell you it is hard work, but I know, for me at least, it is very necessary work.
I have learned that when we have loose ends, or things left unresolved it gives the enemy a “hook” in our lives. We will continue to be falsely accused and lied about, our finances can be hindered, and our relationships, even good ones, can struggle.
As I have reached out this past week to former ministry, friends and business relationships in humility and with a focus on clearing the air and finding forgiveness, the response has been unbelievable. Emails and calls back to me of grace, of course forgiveness, (many saying they hold nothing in their hearts), asking for forgiveness themselves, and even coaching on how to do it better.
I believe we all want to be healed, and we all want to walk on this path of vulnerability and grace.
So if I have ever hurt you in anyway, if I have ever offended you, made you feel small, or exaggerated and lied to you, please let me know. Send me a private message on email, firstname.lastname@example.org, so that we can actually talk to one-another. I need to hear you, and I need you to hear me. This is not at all about confrontation. This is about me accepting where I have hurt you, and asking for your forgiveness, even if you do not want to give it. This may seem a bit extreme to some of you—a bit crazy in fact. I can tell you I am serious about moving forward in forgiveness with all accounts clean.
I want to be known as a man that is quick to grace and quick to forgive. I want to be known as a man that always exhorts and always makes people better because they have encountered me or have known me well.
I am a man that wants to model vulnerability, truth, and relentless grace and forgiveness to the next generation. Will you forgive me, will you join me?
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As you know we are living as “Missionaries” here in Spain. Your monthly support and one-time gifts is what sustains us as a family. Please consider investing in us and a generation. We are living with, teaching, training and mentoring our future leaders. Our Foundation is set up in our Michael’s name to honor his passion and a generation thru New Horizons and is a public charity. You will receive a full tax-deduction when you partner with us. You are helping us set young men and women on a path of serving their generation with discipline, hard work and accountability. Thank you.