I know a guy who struggled with porn for years and years. After he was “caught” and “let go” from his church, he told me that he actually wanted to get caught. In fact, he intentionally installed filtering and accountability software so that he would get caught. I’ve heard similar stories time and time again.
In the previous five years, I KNEW I had a relationship problem and I knew I needed authentic friendships. So I took a couple of steps.
I suggested to a pastor friend of mine that I needed to be in a small group of pastors where we could talk about real issues. We were going to set something up, but it never materialized.
I tried to convene a quarterly meeting of 10-12 pastor friends in some different cities. We had fun on the first trip, but as people backed out of the second one, I let the idea die. I think people thought I just wanted to hang out, but what I was really craving was authentic friendship. This was me reaching out in my own unclear way. I knew I was on life support, so I reached out for help. In my mind, I was talking a HUGE step, and when it didn’t go the way I needed it to go, I shut down.
Those experiences are teaching me two lessons.
1. I need to be clear in my communication. Authentic friendship requires authentic conversation, and I should have been the initiator. As Perhaps if I was more honest about my brokenness, the pastors small group or the quarterly meeting would have happened. Please understand…I am not BLAMING anyone. I could have been far more intentional about my needs, and I do believe if I was fully honest, the outcome might have been different. I don’t blame my pastor friends at all – I wish I was more honest with them.
2. When people take a step toward me, I need to take a step towards them. My awareness of these issues is obviously heightened, but I’m learning that people often need much more than they are willing to communicate. In my story, I was asking for get-togethers with pastor friends, but what I needed was real friendship and a safe place to talk about my struggles. Again…no blame! I’m learning that when people open up in a small way, they are really asking for permission to be honest and open up more. When the guy emails me off the blog asking for prayer for his marriage, there’s more to the story.
I know there are pastors and church leaders who read this blog who struggle with things, and you don’t feel like there’s anybody to talk to. I wish I had been more honest with the friends I had – I can’t say what would have happened, but I wished I was more clear in my petitions to them. Take a step towards someone today.
I’m not a counselor, and we may not even live in the city, but I want you to know that you can contact me and I will listen without judgment. Maybe I can connect you with someone or offer you hope. You’ll only find grace here.