4 blessings of the Billboard

BillboardI used to have a secret and by all accounts it was a juicy one.  It was the kind of secret that – if it got out – would be BIG news to a large number of people, literally all over the globe.  It was a secret so salacious that it would – without doubt – forever impact the lives of thousands of people – beginning with mine.  It was a secret so potent, so dark, so unbelievable that at first, no one would believe it.  Eventually, when reality set in, most everyone would turn on me for having it and keeping it so long.  Because of the damning nature of this secret and the irreversible damage it would cause, I thought it best to keep it hidden, covered under the proverbial lock & key.  And I did.  For many, many years.   I covered my tracks.  I erased my fingerprints.  I rehearsed and remembered my story.   In the process, not only did I become good at hiding the secret, but I became good at becoming something I never intended on becoming – deceitful.  As I discovered, secrets and deceit always go hand in hand.

And then it happened.

One night, while on vacation in Hilton Head, SC with my family, I broke down.  Emotionally broke down.  As they slept in the next room, I was on the condo floor with my Bible and a bucket of tears – realizing it was time for the secret to be shared.  My guilt, suppressed for years, had taken its toll on my soul.  My secret was beginning to crack.  The safe it was in was no longer safe.   Figuratively speaking, the bodies I had buried were apparently not buried at all.   My skeletons were coming out of the closet and there was nothing I could do – but confess.

And so I did.

In the beginning stages of brokenness, the only ones who knew the secret were the ones that were in a position to help.  That is, until the secret jumped out a window, ran into the front yard, got into a nearby taxi and made its way down the street.  Very quickly, it travelled beyond the walls of help.  Apparently, the town gossip (a ministry leader in town) made it her mission to share it with others and, as a result, my secret was leaking faster than Wiki.   Life, as I knew it, would never be comfortable again.  My darkest sins felt like they were on the city billboard.   The scarlet letter was now permanently branded on my chest.

In the early days, I resented this woman and those who were sharing my secret with others.   Not only did I hate the sin, hate getting caught and hate the consequences they brought – but I hated the exposure that came with it.   My once good name was no longer good.   I had fallen off the pedestal.  All the good deeds I had done were simply erased from the ledger.  It is hard enough to go through a personal crisis or moral failure privately.  It is excruciating to wade through the moral muck publicly.  I can’t even imagine the celebrities (actors, politicians, musicians, etc.) that have to publicly climb out of their immoral fishbowl after national or international exposure.  The pain, at any level, is virtually unbearable.

For me, several years have gone by since the initial exposure.  I have had time to work on my “stuff” and begin to heal from the pain caused by the sin, broken relationships and public fall from grace.   And I have come to a surprising revelation – after the dust has settled.  Simply put,

There is a blessing in the billboard.

Billboards are the highway’s advertisements.  Located off of major roads, they are designed to get the message out to as many people as possible.  Yes, it’s hard to have your sins listed publicly.  It’s really tough to have your long-held secrets shared in open forum.  It’s deflating to discover your darkest stain is mentioned under the guise of a prayer request, the church’s justification of gossip.  And when living in the age of Google and Bing – the search engines used by the planet – a traditional billboard would be a welcomed alternative.

As time has gone on, I have discovered some blessings in the billboard.  There are 4 distinct advantages in having your darkness exposed publicly by the light:

1) For starters, the secret is no longer a secret.  Bad things grow in the dark.  Good things grow in the light.  The cockroach of your secret scurries away from the brightness of the light.   Like hydrogen peroxide on a fresh wound, light has a purifying effect.  Though painful at first, the light will soon become the preferred environment to dwell in.  A secret-free life is a free life indeed.

2) As painful as it is, your past mistakes (publicly mentioned) can help others avoid the pothole you fell in.   Though most of us have to learn the hard way, there are a precious few who learn by the mistakes of others.  Your sins on a billboard help them see the “bridge is out” sign long before they get there.

3) Everyone can fall.   You are in a unique position to show others how to rise again.   If your secret was revealed privately, very few people would know what you are overcoming.  But when your name is in lights – everyone can see that restoration is possible and what it can look like.  Public disgrace can turn into a trophy of grace.

4) Pride is the root of all sin.   We often get into the trouble we do because of pride and pride keeps us from getting help or getting out.  When your world does finally crash on you, a humbling of sorts takes place.  When your private moments are broadcast on a public billboard – it creates a humility that can scarcely be found anywhere else.  And that humbling experience, as hard as it is, can keep you from moving back to the land of secrets.

The truth is, secrets live where God wants to dwell – in the heart.  And God doesn’t share His space well.   When He finds darkness where there should be light, He does what He does best – heart surgery.   And unfortunately for us, His kind of surgery is often without anesthesia.

It’s painful.

It’s public.

It’s necessary.

And it’s motivated by love because He likes His children in the Light – away from the bondage of secrets.

“I am not what I ought to be, not what I want to be, not what I hope to be. But still, I am not what I used to be. And by the grace of God, I am what I am.” – John Newton, former slave trader & writer of the popular hymn, Amazing Grace.

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.   It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.   But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.” (Ephesians 5:8-13)

*** FOLLOW ME on Facebook and Twitter! ***

Advertisements

About Rod Arters

As a former youth worker, business owner, school teacher, coach and inmate, Rod has the unique ability to relate to almost anyone in whatever situation they are in. His thought-provoking blog about life, mistakes, faith, hope & grace has been read in over 175 countries. A popular writer & speaker, Rod draws from his deep well of biblical knowledge and personal pain to encourage others along the broken journey to wholeness. He hosts an invitation-only private Facebook group for men (called Brother's Keeper) and enjoys helping others find Hope in the midst of their painful situations. He currently resides in Charlotte, NC.
This entry was posted in Christian and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to 4 blessings of the Billboard

  1. Like you, I believe we should live without secrets and I commend you for being so above board and honest about your experiences. Unlike you, my (ex) husband is a county political figure, Clerk of Courts, and had an affair with his secretary. He got caught, but unlike you, he never looked back and never even apologized to me for his behavior. Even before our divorce was final, he moved in with his secretary and to this day, they still live together. He did say to me once, “no one cares what I did, it doesn’t matter to anyone”. So, today, he is an elected official of the county and lives with his employee (his secretary). I would see that as unethical and a conflict of interest; however, the county in which we live obviously have turned their back and ignored this situation or everyone really does believe there is nothing wrong with this (except for me).

    Thank you for all your posts. – Joan

    • Rod Arters says:

      Joan, thanks so much for reading and commenting! I’m so sorry that you have not had the healing experience of dealing with a spouse who is broken and apologetic about the pain he has caused you. I would encourage you to try to keep bitterness and resentment as far from you as possible. It never hurts the intended victim, only hurts ourselves in the process. Thanks for stopping by! May God richly bless your day!

    • Joan, I see something wrong with this. And I know that it’s hard to forgive someone who has not acknowledged that they hurt you nor asked for forgiveness. Remember that we don’t forgive for the benefit of the other party. It’s between us and God. Our anger and resentment (I can relate to yours) keeps us in bondage to our offenders and we give over our precious energies to them when we don’t completely surrender our pain, bitterness, resentment, and sometimes even hatred to God. You deserve to be free. And for what it’s worth your ex-husband sounds like a reprobate. Read Psalm 37. It essentially says that to us (with our worldly eyes) look at those who do evil and see them as a “plant growing in their native soil.” However, the truth is that God is Sovereign and he will cut those people down. I think in that Psalm it even says something to that effect that you will witness the demise of the evil person with your own eyes. I clung to that passage desperately during the 2009-2010 school year. I’ll just say that God sure does keep his promises because I “did” see the fall and demise of an evil person who had greatly done damage to me. But before this person’s fall, I had made peace with God and forgiven her, even though she certainly never asked.

      I’m sorry that your ex-husband did such a horrible thing to you and that it hurt your heart. You did not deserve that and I believe that God will not only restore you if you let Him, but that you will be blessed ten times over what you were when you were married to your ex. Please also read Deuteronomy 30 “in The Message”. It will blow you away, sister.
      Ava

    • Rod Arters says:

      Gary, thanks for reading and commenting! I read some of your story – sorry we are in the same boat. Hosea 2:14 has brought me much encouragement during my time in the desert. Glad to see you are moving forward and embracing your past. Your story is not done yet! 🙂

  2. Michael Holt says:

    You have blessed my life richly with your honesty and transparency. I am deeply honored to be your friend and brother.

  3. ceekayellemm says:

    Excellent.

  4. brokenjoan says:

    Hello Rod, I haven’t spoken to you in months, my husband is back in our home & all my energy has been on digging through to the other side! It has been 17 months & I still don’t know how all this will turn out, the hurt is so deep. Unlike others I have read about, my husband is truly trying to help me in anyway he can, but right now my heart is closed & I can’t seem to accept what he is trying to do right now. I guess I feel as though it is the, “too little,too late” theory! I just needed to let you know I appreciate your concern & your prayers.

    • Rod Arters says:

      Joan,
      Great to hear from you! I am glad to hear your husband is back in the home, so long as that is a good situation for you. It sounds like his heart is in a better place and he’s trying. Please beg God to change your heart. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to forgive – but you must…. for your benefit. Can I refer you to a friend of mine that I think you may want to reach out to right now? I’ll point you to two blogs that may be of some assistance to you and then if you can’t reach her from there, let me know. I know she would be willing to talk with you.

      http://www.elisabethcorcoran.com/heart-of-stone/
      http://www.elisabethcorcoran.com/heart-of-stone-2/

      One day at a time, Joan!

  5. Brother, this was powerful! Awesome word! Thank you for sharing your testimony.

  6. Rod Arters, you have a beautiful soul. This was an “astounding” piece and it blessed me greatly. I cannot tell you how thankful I am for your openness and authenticity. You make me smile all over my face!! You are such a noble, respectable man in my eyes and I just adore you.

    xoxo,
    Ava

    • Rod Arters says:

      Ava,
      You are very kind to comment. I’m thrilled to hear that this piece blessed you. Thank you for reading and writing! And keep writing yourself! You have a message to get out to others!

  7. Rod, I just discovered your blog today and am devouring it…so wonderful to see such a transparent writer who seems to have learned so much from his mistakes. Your writing is courageous. I will be back for more!

  8. Hi, Rod! I followed a link on another blog that a friend had recommended to me. So much of what you write about seems to apply to me! I think I read about 2 years of posts last night, and I feel like I almost know you! I’m curious about many things, but I won’t share all of my thoughts now :). For starters, how much should we “volunteer” to put our “stuff” Oman the billboard? I mean, if it hasn’t been exposed, should our sins be shared, and if so, with whom? I guess what I am asking, since I see you writing frequently about sin and forgiveness, is how many skeletons to share when seeking mend a relationship?

    • Rod Arters says:

      Hey Brianna, Nice to see you here again. Thanks for reading so much of my stuff. I’m glad it is resonating with you. I think what someone wants to put out there for the world to see will vary from person to person. Part of it depends on how much they have forgiven themselves. Part of it depends upon how much they sense others can benefit from it. Part of it depends on their level of humility or shame. Lots of factors. For me, I decided not to hide anymore. I used to hide in my sin, now I am choosing to embrace the grace. It’s not been easy – but it has been beneficial for me and hundreds of thousands that have read my material. Thanks for joining that growing tribe! 🙂

Would love to hear your thoughts on this...

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s