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 "My Secret Struggle"

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Female Number of posts : 147
Location : Ohio
Registration date : 2008-01-27

Character Profile
Name: Sis. Du Wright
Church Attendance: Never Misses a Church Service
Outside Occupation: Researcher

PostSubject: "My Secret Struggle"   Fri Aug 22, 2008 10:03 am

My Secret Struggle
"I was so ashamed. I knew I needed help."
by Scott Kelly

The noise of the car's air conditioner seemed deafeningly loud. It was the only sound filling the awkward silence between me and my best friend, Travis*. I asked him to lunch to talk about something, but now lunch was over and I still hadn't gotten the words out.

Honestly, I didn't know where to begin. I just knew I needed to say something. The last several months had been really difficult for me. I hadn't been myself. I wasn't reading my Bible. I rarely prayed. And I'd lost my joy—often snapping angrily at loved ones, feeling lonely and fearing everyone was out to get me. I felt trapped in a dark pit and I didn't know how to climb out.

What I did know was how I got into that pit. It'd been a long, gradual slide downward. For years, I'd been masturbating. No, that act alone didn't cause all of my problems. Instead, it was a symptom of the selfishness, lust and pride built up in my heart. I tried to convince myself masturbation was harmless—a normal part of sexuality. But really, it allowed my weaknesses to take a hold of me. When I hated myself, masturbation was an easy way to feel wanted and loved. When I felt out of control, my fantasies were a place where I could control anything—or anyone. On top of all this, I felt intense guilt and shame for my actions.

For months, I felt God urging me to tell someone about the stuff I wrestled with. In fact, everywhere

I turned, I read or heard Christians talking about accountability partners. The problem: I had no idea what that meant. One day, Travis mentioned he had an accountability partner at his church. So, I thought I'd ask Travis about accountability stuff.

But, as his air conditioner fought the summer's heat, I had no idea how to bring up my secret struggle. To my surprise, Travis cleared his throat and said: "So, I wanted to ask you something. My accountability partner is moving and I need someone to help me with stuff."

I laughed. "Man, I've been sitting here trying to figure out how to tell you that I need an accountability partner! I need to talk to someone. I'm pretty messed up."

"You don't even know what 'messed up' is," Travis said. "I've got things in my life I'm so ashamed of. But, I know I can't keep it secret. I need someone to ask me questions, push me, and keep me accountable to the life I want."

"So, that's what accountability partners do?"

"Yup," he said. "They're just devoted friends who talk about personal stuff. No one can follow Christ alone. So, they team up to live out their faith and fight off temptation."

"Man, I've never had that," I said. "I used to think I didn't need anyone else—as if I could take care of my life myself."

Travis looked at me and said, "You can't. And you don't have to anymore."

We agreed to meet once a week to talk about what was going on in our lives. But as I drove to the park where we decided to meet for the first time, I was freaked out. Sure, Travis said he had messed-up stuff in his life, but I knew it couldn't be as bad as lust and masturbation. I was really worried about actually saying those words out loud. In fact, I was starting to regret this whole "openness" thing.

When I got there, we decided to walk the path that circled the lake. Luckily, no one was around. But still, I wasn't sure how to confess my problems. Thankfully, God once again led Travis to say exactly what was on my mind.

"Here's the deal: I have a problem with masturbation and lust," he said.

I exhaled with relief. "Really? You?" I said. "Me too. I feel like lust is controlling my life."

Travis nodded. "Well, I guess neither of us should be surprised," he said. "It's just so easy to think you're the only one suffering. So, how are you struggling right now? Are you reading the Bible? Praying?"

From there, I told Travis everything. It felt good to be shedding light on some very dark, hidden places of my heart. When I finished, he asked a lot of questions about what triggered my lust. As we talked, I realized that some R-rated DVDs in my collection needed to go.

When Travis and I talked a week later, he pointedly asked, "Did you throw out that movie yet?" Sheepishly, I told him the truth—then went home and pitched it.

Questions like that became the key to our accountability relationship. I learned from Travis that accountability wasn't some complicated theological concept. Instead, it was merely about giving a trusted Christ-follower complete access to my life. I gave Travis full permission to get personal with me at any time in order to see how I was living—publicly and privately. He did the same. Back and forth, we'd challenge, support and check up with one another. "Did you read your Bible this week?" I'd ask. "No. Did you?" he'd say.

I'd love to say Travis and I turned into sinless, perfect Christians thanks to accountability. Or that

I never masturbated again. But I didn't change overnight. Instead, Travis and I will always need a relationship like this. We still check in with each other weekly. We've seen God use this relationship in many huge ways. We've helped each other with lust, dating, gossip, lying and jealousy. I love that I have Travis to keep me walking in my faith, but I also love that God's using me in his life, too.

And that's the bottom line: We're no longer alone. I used to feel like a single, thin thread easily snapped by temptation. But now, I like to think my thread is interweaved with those of Travis and God. That makes a pretty strong rope. As Ecclesiastes says, "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken" (4:12, NIV).

*names, including the author's, have been changed.

Now What?

What do you struggle with? How do your struggles hurt you? Your relationships? Your walk with Christ?

How might an accountability partner help you grow in your faith?

What does the Bible say about the characteristics of an accountability partner? Read Matthew 7:3-5, Romans 12:15, 1 Corinthians 13:1-6, Colossians 3:1-2, Philippians 2:3.
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