“If (a suspected addict) does not want to see you, never force yourself upon him.”
The Big Book, Step 12
This is great advice. If more Christians followed this simple rule of thumb I suspect the church would have a better reputation, and would-be evangelists might become far more effective.
I clearly recall the conversation that pointed me in the direction of my pornography addiction recovery program. Several months before I entered the program I asked a friend from my church to be my ‘accountability partner’ for an Internet filtering tool. This gentleman was able to observe my Internet use through weekly notifications of the websites I visited. Though he noticed I broke down and viewed pornography (or try to view pornography; Covenant Eyes was pretty good at stopping me) several times, he never said anything about those failures.
It was not until I tried deleting Covenant Eyes from my computer and reached out to him for help that he finally offered the words, “I think you might be a pornography addict.” Then he told me about his own struggles and said, “You are where I was six years ago.” I learned a number of valuable lessons from that exchange.
First, God will put people in your way to help you, if you will see them…and maybe even if you will not.
Second, you cannot force yourself on other people. When I first approached my friend he could have told me, “If you need help with accountability, you are probably an addict.” In such a case I probably would have found myself another accountability partner. I would not have listened to him and I would not have learned about my recovery program.
Third, I learned that sharing your experience with your own addiction is the most powerful testimony you can give, if you give it at the right time. This has always been modern Christianity’s most powerful evangelical tool: A story of personal salvation delivered in God’s time. However, having the patience for the right moment is tough, especially if you are forced to watch someone destroy their lives in the process. My accountability partner may have felt this way as he watched me violate my own vows to stay clean, but he had to have the patience and wait until I was ready for his help. If he had offered too early, I would not have taken his advice.
The only way we can help others is to have patience and wait until they are ready, regardless of how we feel or when we think they should be ready.
Is there someone in your life you are trying to help? Are you working on God’s timing, or your own?