Rebuilding Trust in Friendships

Clint Thomas

Friendships can be an incredible source of stability, encouragement and strength. God said in Genesis 2:18, ‘It is not good for man to be alone,’ thus the friendship between Adam and Eve began. Also in Hebrews 10:24-25 we are exhorted to, ‘spur one another on toward love and good deeds as well as maintain meeting together for the purposes of encouragement.” In other passages (Eph. 4, 1 Cor. 12, Rom. 12) Paul talks of Christians working together as a body in interdependence. All throughout scripture we see examples of the importance of friendships.

A good friendship requires maintenance and care, time and attention. Something we guys don’t think much about this part of friendship, expecting that it won’t require any effort. In effect we sometimes treat friendships as if they have very little value. In large part we have not been taught how to maintain or value these relationships. An unfortunate fact about our culture today is that most men have very few friends compared to women. As a result this has negative effects on our emotional and physical health.

Friendships are primarily about intimacy; knowing another person and being known. The phrases ‘see into me’ or ‘into me see’ describe it well.

Maintenance within a friendship is allowing yourself to be fully known and showing interest in knowing the other person. When this happens a deep connection can be experienced. However, what happens when we are caught up in sin that we are ashamed to share with our friends? Can we be intimate and hide simultaneously?

This is the ultimate struggle in friendships and marriage for that matter; allowing our sin to be known as well as our positive qualities. I hear from wives who are broken by their husband’s sexual sin say, ‘I thought I knew him but I guess I didn’t. I feel so hurt, I don’t know if I can ever trust him again’.

They feel betrayed, foolish and vulnerable. While wives are our closest friends, our other friends will sometimes feel similar.

Friendships are like taking a walk with someone. The further you travel the closer you become. However, at the point you begin to lie, or deceive, you are no longer walking with that person even though they think you are. You have chosen a separate fork in the road.

Rebuilding the friendship is much like walking back to the fork in the road where you separated from your friend and starting from that point forward. Your friend will know that you are trustworthy by your willingness to do this without defensiveness. They will see they are important to you by your willingness to put this kind of effort forward to restore trust with them.

A trustworthy person will have words and deeds that match. What they say and what they do will be the same. They will also acknowledge when they have hurt someone. Taking responsibility for their actions, they will apologize. Their non-verbal communication such as body posture and facial expressions will match this as well. When this repentant stance is taken over a period of time trust will begin to build.

A repentant heart leads to rebuilding trust and reconciliation can be the end result. You don’t have any guarantees that your friend will respond to your efforts but you will never know unless you put the effort forward. When your friend knows that you mean what you say he can trust that it will be safe to get close to you and reconcile an intimate relationship.

The Greek term for reconcile is to bring back to a former state of harmony. This harmony can only be gained when there is true repentance on the offender’s part and therefore safety in the relationship.

For more help on this subject see Every Man’s Battle and The New Life Weekend.

‘Ka-CHOO’

Martin Fierro

Because a Little Bug went Ka-Choo is a silly focus of a book where Dr. Seuss details the ongoing impact of one seemingly small act, a sneeze, which leads to a large disastrous result. At each step of the intensifying destructive storm, the bug follows along in horror of what has resulted from the onset of his behavior. The end of the story concludes with unsettling chaos within the city, which is not any where near being controlled. The last picture of the bug who sneezed is a display of, ‘oh my, look what I did, I am ashamed of myself.’

When a man truly works through his crisis of truth where he has to confront his sexual addiction, he starts to recognize the impact of his seemingly little action on his life environment (family, friends, co-workers, church etc’). There will be raw moments of discouragement, frustration, embarrassment, shame, guilt. In such, it is virtually impossible to escape the snare of depression.

Recovery and depressed moods do frequently go hand in hand. Once in sobriety, uncovered wounds must be dealt with to truly ‘move on’ from the snare of the addiction. Reconciliation with others and personal healing is an initial focus of recovery/sobriety from sexually addictive behavior. But when the momentum for this recovery/sobriety is not in the optimum desired fashion, or rapid speed, men can become depressed and experience a sense of hopelessness. A ‘why bother’ attitude can settle in as well.

In that, working sobriety is a two-edged sword. The one side is the reclaiming of the healthy life God desires for you and the relationship you are in (or going to be in). The other side of the sword is the pain of facing the feelings and thoughts that got you to this point in life (the seemingly little sneeze idea). The actions towards reconciliation with yourself, your relationships with others and with God will naturally cast a light on your soul where you will have to face the true despair of your actions.

Through the ongoing recovery and reflection of life many men will begin to see the very small acts of life that began the ripple effect leading to the complete snare of addiction. This is why it is so important to have a support group and a professional therapist to assist you through these times. If it is attempted alone, the chances for being stuck in those moments (even without realizing it) are extremely high.

Again, it is a benefit when a man turns away from sexual vices pursuing daily sobriety because it does him well to recognize the triggers that led to the disastrous result. Much of that is the turning back the pages of life, facing painful experiences and feelings while recognizing the results from one situation to another.

For some to recognize the impact of the ‘Ka-Choo’ moments in their life can bring on great despair and grief. In the recovery process depression can set in as you turn back the pages of your life to face and come to peace with wounds (humiliation, incompetence, insignificance, and powerlessness) that occurred in your life.

Maybe you are recognizing that the depressed moods you have been struggling with have caused some difficulty in your life: trouble sleeping, changes in your eating habits, significant weight change, difficulty with concentration, feelings of hopelessness, or thoughts of wanting to hurt yourself. These are significant symptoms and signs that you should seek professional mental health support.

Depressed moods can be extremely powerful and debilitating and should not be taken lightly. To find professional support to manage and work through the depressed moods you are suffering from call 1-800 NEW LIFE. As with the recovery process from your sexual vices, depression is something you should never go through alone. Seek help and talk with others confirming your experience. And most importantly don’t underestimate the ripple effects of depressed moods through your recovery process. It may seem like a simple episode but if the depressed moods affect your daily routine and functioning, seek professional help.

See Every Man’s Battle for support.

Why Hasn’t God Delivered Me From This Sexual Struggle?

Sam Fraser

The story line for myself and many Christian men wanting to achieve sexual integrity often feels like an endless pattern of short-term successes and long-term failure. Exasperated, I turned to God crying out, ‘remove this thorn!’ But He didn’t. Hey God, why not? If God is good, and He is; if God is love, and He is; then what’s up with that? There must be another message that God is giving me and it’s not sinking in. Why have I not been delivered from this? The thorn remains.

Paul reports his experience of praying for God to remove a sin pattern that he was unable to master, his personal thorn in 2 Corinthians chapter 12. There is much speculation of what Paul’s thorn actually was but nobody knows for certain. However, I definitely know what mine has been. Perhaps you do as well.

Paul prayed three times to have this ‘thorn’ removed. The Lord’s answer: Uh-uh, nada, zilch, negatory, no deal. God did not deliver Paul from his personal thorn either. Sometimes God is like that; He doesn’t always do the straightforward thing. Paul prayed and did not get the obvious and expected solution. God was up to something else. God was teaching Paul a deeper spiritual truth. For some things, God wants us to rely on Him much more than we normally would.

The answer was elucidated for Paul when he writes, ‘When we are weak, then we are strong’. (2 Cor. 12:10)’.

So, I am spiritually strong when I can confess that my puny human strength fails me. I can identify with that. I cannot maintain my sexual integrity in my own strength, in my own power, through my efforts. God has to supply the strength. The flesh nature is not strong enough and it never will be. But, rather, it is a confession that sets me free from continuing in my futile attempts. It also disrupts the powerlessness and shame of failure that lead to despair. The despair sets in motion a cycle that leads to more acting out.

By confessing that I don’t have what it takes I find healing. I can now agree with Paul that the secret of my strength will be in a willing confession that I don’t have what it takes. Nor will I ever. This has been very restorative. Additionally, knowing that each time I cry out for His strength and relying on Him will make me spiritually stronger. Hallelujah! Now I get it’ duh!

Still, asking for help (cf., my article in the archives on the H-bomb) takes a lot of courage and strength, and/or desperation. Not only the first time, but every time. Eveeerrrry time! Even now, I have to rely on His strength and I have to ask for it. It has taken such a long, long time to follow through and maintain this strategy. After millions of failures (it seemed like that many) I felt like turning away from God and giving up hope because of the depth of my despair. I was humiliated and hated myself for not being able to overcome my acting out.

As a Christian I thought that I should be able to overcome this sin sooner. But the spiritual truth that God taught Paul is that I do not have it within me’ at all. Ever. It is a theological fact. Period.

Initially, I was taught that I needed a Savior to overcome my sinful nature. But, somewhere along the way, I got it in my head that now that I have been a Christian for a while I should somehow be able to achieve moral victories through my own efforts. The misconception was that by this stage of my Christian walk I should have accumulated enough of ‘whatever’ to achieve moral victory. Failure translated into the belief that there was something lacking in me. There was, what has always been there, my human nature. I cannot save me from myself. Knowledge is one thing. Understanding is another. Until the knowledge in my head drops into the heart of my understanding it is like a banging gong and a clanking cymbal.

I am strong only when I confess I am weak. To take it a step further in this weak-strong principle, we must rely on others. It is another aspect of accepting my weakness. But’ that is an article for another day. Blessings.

For more help on this subject see Every Man’s Battle.