I see it in your eyes, the way they flit back and forth, never holding my gaze for more than a second or two.  

Your shoulders are hunched forward, your chin dropping to your chest, like your head is too heavy for your neck to support.  

The guilt is crushing you.

Exposure is what you fear more than anything else.  You do everything you can to conceal your sinful actions from self-righteous people.  You've heard the whispers...

"She seemed like such a good Christian girl.  How did she end up pregnant at 16?"

"Why does he hang out with those people?  Everyone knows they're bad news.  It makes me wonder...does he do drugs, too?."

"They seemed to have such a solid, Godly relationship.  I never would have guessed that he was having an affair with his office manager."

What would they say about you, if they found out the truth?  But you tell yourself that as long as you show up to church in fresh clothes, a smile plastered on your face, your reputation will remain intact.  You're known for your purity, for your straight-as-an-arrow lifestyle.  No one will suspect anything.

But I see the guilt in you.  I see the way you carry yourself in public, your shame wrapping like a sweater around your shoulders.  Your life is an act.  Inside, your light flickers, the once-bright flame shrinking in the dark.  

I see you because I was once just like you.  I had secrets and I kept them tucked away, hidden in the darkest corner of my heart.  I allowed no one to know, no one to see the darkness deep inside of me.

Until one day, I did.

It doesn't make sense, how freedom is found in exposing the darkness to light.  But somehow, miraculously, it's truth.  I found a person I could talk to, someone I knew wouldn't throw stones but would instead listen with a spirit of empathy.  Someone who would nod their head in understanding, open their arms in compassionate love.  Someone who would fight for me and with me as I began to allow rays of light to cut through my darkness.

It hurt.  It was scary.  I felt guilt and shame and embarrassment.  The process was long and slow.  The light hurt my eyes and at times I turned away, wanting to hide, to cover all of it up like I had done for so long.  

But little by little, I found my way.

I turned my face toward the Son, allowing His truth to break apart the lies, allowing His light to cut through my darkness.

This morning I woke up a free woman.