My friend Tim and I have been close friends since we met in 2001 or so, but over the last two years or so, we’ve been “holding each other accountable”. (Although we’re overdue for a phone conversation, I’m calling you this week Tim!)
As men who are learning to be honest and vulnerable, strong and broken, we have found that there are many obstacles that keep men isolated even in the most friendly of circles. Simply put, men don’t talk, don’t know how to talk, and don’t know what to say if and when they ever get there.
As an Asian guy, I would say this is doubly hard for me. Just to say that I have a problem or that I even need to talk elicits all kinds of conflicted feelings including guilt, shame, and even the occasional fit of despair, all before I’ve even said anything at all.
Tim, on the other hand, is all-Americana, a once-farm boy from the big city of Wabash, Indiana now living in Nashville, TN and can’t stand it when I can’t say what I mean, or even worse, when I don’t do what I say.And so, Tim has held me accountable for the last two years, often kicking and screaming.
But in that span, I will say that I have found freedom. I have learned to be more honest about the temptations and proto-addictions that I face. I have gained the strength to talk about them more openly and ask for help from my wife. I have seen God’s power to be more than just friends, but to be active in the process of forming one another in the image of Christ.
In my new and growing understanding of temptation, idolatry, and addiction, I have found that we tend not to name the things we value most. We often make weak, watered-down confessions that objectify the thing, “I have a problem with lust” or “Pray for my problem with work”, but never subjectify it–”I am a sex addict” or “I am a procrastinator”. We are rarely specific nor do we own up to the fact that the “thing” is in us, has infiltrated our very being, has grafted itself into our very DNA, family life, church life, etc.Part of breaking a taboo is to name it. Because we worship the thing we refuse to name, we must name it in order that it might come down from its altar and not be made holy. We must name the nameless — and any “love that dare not speak its name” is a love not worth having.
Is it possible, that our Christian-speak has brought forth an irreverence for God but a reverence for our perversions? Do we speak the name of God in vain? Vain because we are willing to reciprocate this friendship with him, but never call out the demons in our very soul? What are their names? Are they perhaps “Legion” among us?
Confession must be specific…my pathologist wife would never dream of just diagnosing something “cancer”…every cancer has a particular name and character. Its treatment demands specificity. Why is it that we call our addiction some general thing? Are we afraid to name it? Does it rule over us because we have placed it beyond uttering its very name?
As I’ve learned, many Jews refuse to write the name of G_d, and will write YHWH or simply call G_d, “Ha-Shem” –”The Name”. My Jewish brothers have also taught me that “The Lord our God is One.” His very name is Holy.