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.

Knowing the ROCK; Knowing TRUE Intimacy in Recovery: Part 5

David Mackey

Psalm 31:4”free me from the trap set before me’

Once more let’s review: Just as false intimacy was part of what helps maintain our addiction, TRUE intimacy will strengthen our recovery. This is our design: to have intimacy with both God and Others. In the Psalms, David equated knowing God as his Rock, Refuge, and Fortress with knowing God intimately.

So far we have found that in knowing God as our rock we are free from shame and we are listened to with acceptance and understanding. These are pieces, deep pieces, of having an ‘In-To-Me-See,’ an intimacy relationship.

We also discovered that in knowing God as our Rock, He leads and guides us in preparation for Battle.

In verse 4 of Psalm 31, David, reveals the last facet of intimacy which we look at in this series. As with Shame, being listened to and guided, David, throughout the Psalms, repeatedly, equates knowing God as his Rock, Refuge, and Fortress, with safety or being free from traps.

Perhaps if we asked the average Christian what it meant to know God as his rock he would likely come up with this connection. The idea of sitting on a solid Rock in the midst of storm and turmoil is a comfort to so many. Our hymns and songs over the years are full of this comforting imagery.

For us, in this battle, this piece of intimacy seems even more significant. Our battle usually starts out with a trap. It seemed so innocent to curiously look at some pictures. What child/young teen could have ever envisioned the imprisonment set before them? Now, 20 or more years later as we break free from the imprisonment we have more traps than ever all around us.

Think about this idea we look at our battle. Psalm 31:4 says ”free me from the trap set before me.’ What a thought. Indeed, the simple natural feeling and act of masturbation became a trap. It worked best with images’ seemingly simple little pictures. What harm could that be? Yet the trap was so sure, so strong. It kept us ensnared for the trapper to come and the trapper eventually would have taken our life, our very soul.

So to be offered by God a relationship with Him and with others that involves freedom from those traps is remarkable and so very needed.

We could not’. Tho we tried for so long’ we could not free ourselves from the trap. Only intimacy can do it!! Intimacy, true intimacy, with God and with others can seem like a lot of work, especially after so many years of false intimacy. A lot of emotional work. ‘In-To-Me-See’ is often hard and painful but it is real and it brings real connection, real passion. The free stuff is a trap. It is false and once trapped it is difficult to get away from. You cannot do it alone. You need someone to free you from that trap. God offers that freedom in true intimate relationship with Him. He offers it in knowing and being known by him intimately and by knowing and being known by others intimately.

We need the power of intimacy with God AND with others to be free from the trap. And we need, we must have, true intimacy with God AND with others to avoid falling into the snare, the trap once again.

This is so critical. The traps, the snares, as we know, are many and they sometimes seem constant, daily, and all around us.

So this concludes our look at just 4 aspects of intimacy, or knowing God as our Rock, Refuge and Fortress. Amazing love‘ the song says’ How can it be!!! God, the creator of the universe, Jesus who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords offer us INTIMACY. True intimacy in which we are free from shame, free from traps. Where we are listened to, understood and accepted as God’s child (He wants to be ‘Abba,’ Daddy!) and Jesus be brother and friend. Amazing love!!

And in this relationship he will lead and guide us through the battle. We will, while in intimate relationship with HIM and intimate relationship with others WIN THE BATTLES. Eventually, with Him as our rock, our refuge, and our fortress, we will win the war.

Once again I invite you to, in your recovery, pursue the path of true intimacy with all your being. Remember, this is not as much a command from God but rather, it is an invitation. Intimacy with God and others is what we were created for and it will bring real fulfillment and a strong recovery and the Battles will be won!

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

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

Knowing the ROCK; Knowing TRUE Intimacy in Recovery: Part 4

David Mackey

If you are new to the reading of these articles here is a short review: Just as false intimacy was part of what helped maintain our addiction, TRUE intimacy will strengthen our recovery. So this series will look at 4 of the many facets of intimacy which can be found in an intimate relationship with God AND with others.

This is our design: to have intimacy with both God and Others. In the Psalms, David equated knowing God as his Rock, Refuge, and Fortress with knowing God intimately. So far we have looked at the idea of being free from shame and being listened to with acceptance and understanding as pieces, deep pieces, of having an ‘In-To-Me-See’ relationship.

In verse 3 of Psalm 31, David, reveals yet another facet of intimacy. I can’t say that I have ever thought of being lead or guided as a piece of intimacy. For David it was. If you think about it awhile you might conclude that after someone listens ‘In-To” someone; after perhaps seeing another’s shame and vulnerability, then leading/ guiding them seems like another part of an intimate relationship.

In his book Pursuit of Intimacy, David Ferguson identifies one of the ‘foundational blocks’ of intimacy as ‘joint accomplishment.’ He contends that in intimate marital relationships a couple accomplishes things together. So working together to buy and/or build a home together, raise children together, complete grad school together, etc. contributes to a deeper level of intimacy in couples.

Think about the intimacy that develops with your Band of Brothers as you lead and guide each other through the battle. Think about the intimacy that develops with God as you listen to His Word and His Spirit leads and guides you through the battle. There is comfort and security found in being lead and guided within a truly intimate relationship. So for David intimacy was not just a passive event in which he was listened to. He knew that as God listened He was also guiding David, preparing him for perhaps more of the same battles David had dealt with throughout his life.

This is indeed a messed up world. We have found a common set of struggles among men who struggle with sexual impurity. Father wounds, mother wounds, abuse wounds, neglect wounds and many other past issues, very often affect us today. Present issues, wounds, and struggles are often magnified by our past issues. So we need guidance, we need preparation, we need tools for battle. Knowing God as your Rock, Refuge and Fortress, i.e. having an ‘In-To Me-See’ relationship with God will not just bring healing from past battles but preparation for future battles. False Intimacy didn’t/doesn’t prepare us for anything. Rather it weakened us. We sought comfort in false intimacy and it gave us none. We sought to rid ourselves of some of our shame only to find we were beaten down by deeper and deeper shame. We sought excitement and even happiness only to find terror and depression. If anything in us was at all satisfied with acting out, then other needs and desires of our life became damaged even more.

God invites into True Intimacy with Himself and with others. Part of true intimacy actually leads us, guides us, and prepares us for the Battle. We are not in this alone. Perhaps the most famous of Psalms says even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death He is with us. What a blessing!! It would seem that if we know God as our Rock, Refuge, and Fortress He doesn’t only walk beside us through the battle, the valley, but he leads us and guides us through. More Blessing!! This is intimacy with God. And it is what exists in an intimate relationship with others. Someone listening to the cry of our heart, just listening and understanding and accepting.

So we find another piece of a wonderful invitation God gives us through David! God invites us to be lead and guided while sitting in the Rock, Refuge, and Fortress! Intimacy: Knowing God as your Rock, Refuge and Fortress. What will recovery be like knowing that God is there to lead and guide you through this battle. His Word is not a list of rules’ it intimately leads and guides us through the battles. In your recovery pursue the path of true intimacy with all your being. Remember, this is not a command from God but rather, it is an invitation. Intimacy with God and others is what we were created for and it will bring real fulfillment and a strong recovery. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 5