All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?
From the song “Eleanor Rigby,” The Beatles
“It is not good for the man to be alone…”
“I have no one to talk to.” These are the first words we hear from at least 95% of the men and women who come to us for help. We hear “I have no one to talk to” from Christians at every level in the church, including pastors and their wives, ministers of every kind, professional and lay counselors, and those in the flock.
On a counseling call, one wife spent the first 55 minutes sharing her story with me. At first I wondered why she wanted a counseling session since I hadn’t given her any input, until it hit me—she needed someone to talk to who was safe and could understand, and having that made a big difference to her. (Eventually, I was able to help her.)
Christians are starved for friendship; someone who will listen and care for them without judging, preaching, quoting verses, or saying something that will make their situation worse. By friendship, I’m not referring to shooting the breeze, talking about hobbies, sports, or how the kids are doing. I mean someone you can share your heart with when you’re hurting, have blown it, are fearful, or feel lost.
Many Christians share with us that they were wounded after they went to their church for help. Or they tried their family friends, or a counselor, and got mountains of advice that made their situation worse.
I’m not exaggerating when I say we hear stories of wounded, lonely Christians on a daily basis. Some days I’m grieved, and others I’m left asking “Why?”
Some of it has to do with our Christian culture. Many churches have made their weekend services solely about praising God and teaching. Preaching and praise are great things, but if that’s all we’re about we’re missing out on a huge piece of what the Christian life is about. No believer should walk their path alone – especially when they’re suffering.
Many are content to live in their comfort-bubble of isolation. We talk ministry, theology, hobbies, sports, kids, and family with ease. Take a risk and share our heart? Uh-uhh, we don’t go there. Share our sin? Our deepest failures? “Ahem, let’s resume our study of the doctrine of grace. No need to take this Jesus thing too far.” (One area that I usually spend a lot of time in counseling, especially with Christian men, is getting them out of their head and into their heart.)
Every adult Christian should be meeting with another believer once a week for the purpose of mutual accountability, support, encouragement, and prayer. We are not made to live the Christian life in isolation. As God said when He first made man, it is not good for us to be alone.
I meet with another Christian brother every Friday for lunch and will continue to do so until I die. After lunch, we go to one of our cars and pray for each other, our families, and others… James 5:16 in action. Last year I doubled down and am now meeting another guy on Mondays as well.
I don’t think we’re going to see widespread change in the epidemic of loneliness in our churches until leadership decides that the weekend services are about more than teaching and praise. This involves taking risks and breaking their congregations up into small groups (2 is best) to share needs with and pray for each other. At the least, they could make a signup system available so their flock could sign up to meet with others one-on-one.
The other critical piece our church leaders would need to do would be to educate and train their flocks on what being a safe church looks like, which is listening, asking questions, and showing people you care before giving advice. Leave the preaching to your pastor on Sunday, and give counsel only after you’ve earned the right by making an investment in the relationship, e.g. showing that you’re a safe person.
I know some churches have Bible studies during the week, but it’s easy to hide in a Bible study if the group leaders aren’t committed to making their group a safe place and encouraging transparency.
In the meantime, we offer the following groups and courses below for men and women to help you overcome and heal from porn and adultery and talk with others on a heart level. What’s great about these groups is that many men and women have formed lasting friendships from them.
Men’s weekly accountability and prayer group
Our nationwide phone group for men meets Wednesdays at 4:00PM Central Time. The group’s emphasis is on accountability, prayer, and input from Tim Peterson, the group leader. The annual fee of $60.00 grants you access to every weekly group for 1 year.
Men’s 8 week course
Our eight week course will provide you with the Biblical tools to overcome lust, walk you through the core heart issues that drive it, rebuild your marriage, and take you into a deeper relationship with Jesus. Group members are paired off as accountability partners; 5-6 assignments are given every week. Meetings are held weekly by phone conference call and available to persons who speak English, from any country. (We have had participants from the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Europe). Run by Tim Peterson. Investment: $295.00.
see http://www.blazinggrace.org/mens-support-group-for-sex-addiction/ for more information.
Wives Support Group
A weekly phone conference call for wives and girlfriends with an emphasis on support, accountability, and prayer. Led by Sandy England. The annual fee of $60.00 grants you access to every weekly group held for 1 year.
The Wife’s Heart 8 Week Course
Our eight week course for wives will walk you through topics that include coping with your husband’s porn and adultery, dealing with triggers, boundaries, who to tell (and who you shouldn’t), family issues, rebuilding trust, healing your heart, forgiveness, and going deeper in your relationship with God. Led by Sandy England. Investment: $99.00
For information on our wives groups, please see http://www.blazinggrace.org/wives-support-group-porn-adultery/
Photo credit: Katarzyna Bialasiewicz