(My friend Andrew is in a fierce spiritual battle. We had this talk very recently.)
Me: I got your text that you wanted me to call you. So here I am.
Andrew: Thanks for calling. I just wanted to let you know that I’m in some crisis counselling with my pastor. One thing he wants me to do is get off Facebook so I won’t be bombarded by all kinds of conflicting advice. He says it will just confuse me. So you won’t be hearing about any posts there for a while.
Me: OK. But I haven’t been on Facebook for a while, so I don’t see your posts. Why are you telling me this?
Andrew: I know you’re not on there anymore. But I know your wife tells you what I say. I just wanted you to know you won’t be hearing about what’s going on there anymore. But my pastor thinks it would be good for me to talk to you if I need to, so I wanted to be sure it’s OK if I call if I need to.
Me: Of course it’s OK. Do you need to ask? So tell me — how are things going?
Andrew: Terrible. I don’t even know how things got so bad so fast. I just know things are about as bad as they can get.
Me: Well, Andrew, things don’t usually get bad fast. A lot has to be going on that gets us there little by little. And you know what I’m referring to. Also, things are seldom as bad as they could be. It might feel that way when we’re going through them, but it’s usually not really the case. But I don’t want to minimize the severity of what you’re going through, either.
Andrew: Well, you’re right that it didn’t happen all of a sudden. It was a little here and a little there. But I guess it intensified before I knew what was happening. That’s what I mean. Like this trap snapped shut on me all of a sudden and now I can’t get free.
Me: And how is Trisha doing in all this?
Andrew: She’s in counselling with me. But I don’t know if she’ll ever trust me again. I don’t see how things will ever be the same. She’d really be better off without me.
Me: Whoa, man. Don’t start thinking like that. Don’t let the devil get a hold of that thought, or you could be in big trouble. I know.
Andrew: A year ago I was so happy. I had just been baptized and was developing a strong relationship with a woman and life looked like it could be so normal. Who was I fooling?
Me: If you think you were fooling yourself, you’re going to have a hard time recovering from this. I don’t know for sure what I should say, because I don’t know how you’re being counselled. But your mental state is not good. You have got to make yourself think biblically and get the truth into your mind and heart.
Andrew: Like you?
Me: Hey, I admit I’ve had some deep, deep struggles. And I know I haven’t been the best example of how to deal with this particular kind of sin. I’ve been where you are and am telling you it’s a dangerous place to be. But I’m also telling you what you have to do to pull yourself out of it by the grace of God.
Andrew: I feel like I’m starting all over again. Like I’m back where I was before I became a Christian.
Me: I know the feeling. But it’s not like that so much as it is taking a major fall on the path of discipleship. You have to cry to God for help, pick yourself up, and continue on the way you were heading before you tripped and fell. Then keep on the lookout for more stumbling blocks.
Andrew: But what if you don’t think you’ll ever really change?
Me: Then you’ll have to start thinking right again. You can’t really change by yourself, but you can by the grace of God. And remember that change is a process. It’s not something that happens overnight. We take little steps at a time, but each step is progress in the right direction. When we stumble and fall, we don’t go back to ‘GO’ and start all over again. We start again from where we fell.
Andrew: You sound like my pastor. HA!
Me: So any time you need to talk, I’m here. You have to focus on your walk with God and your relationship with your wife — in that order.
Andrew: That’s hard.
Me: Of course it is. There’s nothing easy about killing sin. But what’s the alternative?
Andrew: Yeah, that’s the point, isn’t it? Well, I better go. I’m supposed to call Trisha every day on my lunch time and talk. Pastor’s orders.
Me: OK. Do it. And don’t give in to despair. The Lord is our strength, not our pastors or our wives or our friends. Got that?
Andrew: I’m trying to get it. Thanks for talking.
Me: Any time.