Question: I’ve Totally Screwed Up and I Can’t Pick Up The Pieces

Anonymous asked (edited):

Hi J.S. Park, I’m a recovering sex addict and porn viewer. I’m a female. I gave my life to Jesus and started in a 6 year relationship with a brother from church that resulted into engagement. In a state of emotional uncertainty and mental vulnerability, I allowed one of his groomsmen to emotionally/sexually prey on me; I consented. I entered into a sexual relationship for 7 months and just got out of it. What’s worse, with this other fellow, we taught Sunday school, he’s my brother’s spiritual mentor and leads a small group. We stopped this sin and he has since not spoken to me out of anger, but he continues to continue to invest himself and is not remorseful. I’ve come out to others but I know I have created a wave of destruction in my church. The shame and guilt are eating at me. What should I do? Please help.


My dear beloved friend:

I’m really so sorry about everything. There will be some choices in life that have irreversible consequences, and it will feel impossible to move forward.  You’ll try so hard to pick up the pieces and go back to how it used to be: but I think you’re learning this might never happen.

Many of us respond in different ways to shattered situations, such as:

– Binge-eating, binge-drinking, binge-shopping, binge-sex, binge-everything.

– Packing up and changing cities.

– Leaving the church for good.

– Depression, isolation, constant regret, and suicidal behavior.

– Emotional paralysis, shut-down, and antisocial tendencies.

– Aggression, violence, bitterness, and resentment — especially at God.

– Choosing to do whatever you want to do, because you feel you’re now “damaged goods.”


I know things are really screwed up and you’ll be tempted to do any of the above: but my dear friend, none of these things have to be your story.  I completely understand the trapped feeling of being among others who constantly remind you of what happened, but even if things fall apart, it doesn’t mean you have to.  In the worst of times, you can still choose to do the best you can, however imperfectly.

Maybe you’ve heard this before, but really: you can only get bitter or better.  You are heading for a breakdown or breakthrough.  It’s really okay to feel you’re not okay, but I don’t think it’s okay to stay there.  It’s awesome that you’re honest and you’re allowed to feel what you feel, but let that push you towards growth instead of regression.

In fact: your situation is more reason to grow, and not less.

In case you think this is just pretty pep talk, I’ve really heard it all.  I’ve spoken with people that have similar stories:

– My friend cheated on his wife with a married woman, and they all have kids.  One of them is a Sunday school teacher.

– Another friend has been raped by at least two guys in the area, and they all still hang out like nothing happened.  They all attend church.

– Another friend was sexually molested as a child by a pastor who leads a church here.

– A youth pastor was recently discovered to have slept with almost every female teenager in his youth group.

– In my early days before I was a pastor, I slept with one of the members of the praise team.  I say this with deep shame and horror, and it only became worse from there.

In nearly all these situations, I’ve been able to see how the events unfolded.  And for the most part, many of them chose to continue messing it up, even after they were forgiven and shown grace.

In this very moment, even if your entire church were to embrace you again: you still have your story ahead of you.  You still decide who you’re going to be from here on out.  And amidst the broken pieces, you can still be whole.

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