Confession is easy on paper.
You spill your guts to someone not completely knowing how they will react; opening yourself up in ways that you have never done before. Waiting for the words you hope or dread hearing. Vulnerable, scary, nerve wracking.
Like I said, easy.
But there is something in confession that is mysteriously powerful and beautiful. For the first time you experience life like you have never done before. Freedom, peace and life are just a few words away.
When you open yourself up and you only receive love back its earth shattering and life changing, in a really, really good way.
Confession is easy, scary, worrying and inspiring.
Then there is the person being confessed to. They probably have a trickier job because their role is to offer support and not be shocked, which like confession is much easier said than done.
Opening yourself up takes guts but being with someone through a road of recovery takes an even deeper strength.
When we first hear confessions usually we want to show the person that they are loved. We remind them of God’s love for them. They are free, they aren’t judged, and there is grace for them. Before they confess they are already good with God. They can let go of the guilt and shame they are currently experiencing.
These truths about ourselves and about God are where freedom and sobriety arise from. They allow us to move forward and not back.
But addiction is not always that simple. The moment we hear of God’s love for us can be extremely powerful and can have such an effect on us that in the next days or even weeks, temptation can seem like a distant acquaintance.
When it returns, which it inevitably will, sometimes we will give in again. We will forget who we are and forget where we were going. Life will settle down, we don’t experience the same confidence and we feel shaky. This is when the person hearing confession needs to really step up.
We want to reassure our friend that nothing has changed, that God still loves them, that no matter how many times they give in or resist temptation, God can not love them anymore than He does.
They feel reinvigorated and ready to face the world again.
We all need to be told we are loved. We need to know that we aren’t judged. We need to keep believing God is for us.
But sometimes we need something more.
This is when the person being confessed to has a responsibility to do something more. It’s not enough to tell the person not to worry, to keep going. Because at the end of the day that usually just gives us permission to keep doing what we really want, which most of the time is to look at porn, to confess it and receive permission to go on the way we have always gone.
Round and round in circles.
Back in the same place.
If nothing else, it becomes boring.
So, in some unexpected and upside down way, when you hear someone’s confession and only offer words, you can quickly become their enabler.
Maybe you struggle with porn too so you don’t want to tell them they are making huge mistakes. Who are you to criticize?
Or you are frightened of losing their friendship more than strengthening it by being honest about where they are looking in the wrong places for peace.
You are having a sucky day yourself so you don’t have the patience to sit and listen to their pain and depression, so you fling out a few relevant Bible verses and send them on their way.
By allowing the people we love to fend for themselves, we are essentially giving them permission to view porn.
The very person they turn to for help, becomes their enabler.
The key for being a helpful and inspiring accountability partner is to remember that speaking to someone of God’s completely and shocking unconditional love is not mutually exclusive in helping them see where they are making mistakes in their attempts to change; to highlight some of the lies they are telling themselves, to show them habits which are leading them down increasingly destructive ways and to show them that God loves us just as we are but wants so much more for us than that.
Sometimes we think any time we start to tell someone where they are going wrong we are being judgmental or afraid that the plank in our own eye will become more obvious.
This is not always true though.
God loves us completely where we are, but sometimes our sin can stop us from seeing His love in bigger and more extravagant ways. We can become blind to the everyday mundane ways that God is present in our lives.
This is why, if we are supporting someone on their quest for freedom from porn, we shouldn’t just let them keep picking their scars. Not because we are making it about us or works, but because God wants to do more in our lives than we can possibly imagine.
Where you sit reading this.
If you are helping someone through porn addiction they are maybe going around in circles, constantly ending up with porn hoping this one time it will make them feel loved. Working with them to see where they should change and make adjustments to their lives is not getting in the way of God’s love. It is opening them up to experiencing it new and bright ways.
Maybe you need to stop enabling them and start loving them.
And maybe that starts with your own confession.