Victor Chiao has experienced more freedom over the past year and a half than he ever had throughout the course of his life. But he wouldn’t be where he is today if he had not also experienced the greatest darkness and despair in his life as well.
His Greatest Shame
About three years ago, Victor started heading down a path that would lead to his greatest shame. He had been slowly withdrawing from others. He retreated from friends and was frequently irritable, apathetic, and disengaged from his wife, Grace, and their kids. Truth is, his disconnectedness from his friends and family was only one symptom of much bigger problems within himself and in his marriage.
Grace voiced her concerns and discontentment to Victor on several occasions, but instead of taking her seriously and genuinely addressing the issues, he paid her lip service about trying to work harder to be more engaging and attentive. In reality, he was ignoring her as well as the underlying deficiencies in their relationship. “I could’ve sought professional help for our problems or at the very least attempted to engage in heart-to-heart dialogue with Grace,” he says. “Instead, I chose a path of self-destruction.”
That path ultimately led to Victor’s betrayal of Grace and his wedding vows. He sought solace, comfort, escape, and affirmation from strangers, women whom he met online. “In exchange for the illusion of feeling desired and valued, I invested myself emotionally and financially in these relationships to the detriment of my family’s welfare.”
Grace Befitting Her Name
“Fortunately, by God’s mercy and my recklessness, Grace discovered what I had been doing behind her back and confronted me about my infidelity,” he discloses. “Then with the characteristic grace befitting her name, she invited me to seek help for our marriage together instead of retaliating or leaving me, which she had every reason to do.”
In October 2013, Victor and Grace started marriage therapy and shortly thereafter, he began participating in Faithwalking. “Through the multiple sources of support that I received from close friends at church, our marriage therapist, and fellow sojourners in Faithwalking, my eyes were opened to the darkness that I had been living in and I began to clearly understand, more and more, the shame and other forces that had been at work throughout my life which drove me to such regrettable behavior.”
The Power of Sharing His Story
Among the many things he has learned and has been practicing over the past year and a half is the power of sharing his story and exposing his shame to people he trusts. Renowned UH professor and sociologist Brené Brown has pointed out that shame gains power by remaining covered and hidden, and one way to chip away at its influence is to expose it to the light. “I can say with confidence that God has brought healing and restoration in our marriage and it’s at the best it has ever been over the 15 years we’ve been married.”
Redemption and Hope
God used the darkness brought about by Victor’s secret life to bring him to a place of confession and surrender. He is overcoming shame by bringing it to light. Without his fall from grace, he might not have ever found such potent grace in the truth. “This is not an endorsement to seek the things that I had or to intentionally dig yourself into a deep pit, but hopefully to provide encouragement that as a follower of Christ, there is always hope and redemption even when circumstances seem their bleakest.”