*To protect the privacy of everyone involved, some details have been altered.
I’ve had rough conversations with friends before, but nothing quite like this.
We were walking along our usual route, and we were near the end, really, when my friend slows down and turns to me. “You remember how things ended with David?” Of course I remembered that. It was a bad breakup.
“Well,” she continues, “I can’t explain this, but I have to tell you about it. I’ve been completely out of control ever since then.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’ve been drinking way too much, and I’ve been going home with guys and sleeping with them, that’s what I mean! I’m wrecked! It’s been bad before, but never like this! I just can’t seem to get a grip on this.”
Wow. Okay. I stayed calm, but I was yelling to God for help inside. What in the world do I say?
She went on. “I don’t know what to do. I really don’t. I’ve been sleeping with my guy friends! Not serious dating, not even casual dating. Just sleeping with guys I know.”
I had no idea how to respond. But here’s what came to me and what I said: “Okay. Don’t worry. I don’t know what to do, really, but I’ll tell you one thing: I’ll be with you the whole way.”
And we kept walking home. It turns out, that was exactly what she needed to hear. Some years have passed now, and she’s happily married, but back then, who’d have known? Somehow, we got through it. Here’s what we did.
Together, we found two other friends with similar issues. We all knew each other well, but we had certainly never talked at this depth about this kind of topic. We gathered every week, sometimes in a quiet park or a very quiet coffee shop, occasionally at my house, always with coffee and scones, and we went through a study called Living in the Light. These were smart, very sophisticated women, and I wondered how the language of the study would land for them, so I challenged them to approach this with an editor’s eye. “Do we agree with this paragraph? If not, why? If so, but it still rubs you the wrong way, how would you phrase it differently?” I entered into it with every bit of commitment that they did, sharing my oldest and worst choices and behaviors. It took us a year.
One precious year. It changed their lives—and mine, too. At one point, much later, when the first girl was engaged to be married, we were taking another walk. “Are you sure about this idea? Do you think that our holding off on sex now could negatively affect our sex life once we’re married?” I smiled. More coffee, more scones, more talking and praying with friends got us through that one.
Today, two of the three are married, each with children, and the third just got engaged. To be honest, I did have faith that good things would come from that first conversation, but I didn’t know just how good!
If you have a similar past—or present struggle—do you have anybody you can confide in? Someone you can trust to protect your confidence? Might now be the time to tell them what’s going on?
Sometimes, people do shock us with a sudden plea for help. But other times, we may need to ask. Is there somebody you can be praying for, either that they would open up or that you could gently open up this kind of topic?
For access to ReWire, an updated version of Living in the Light, please click here.