When My Wife's away
The call hit my phone while I was studying and having some quiet time in my favorite booth at Panera. I was in a great moment writing some commentary and felt I was in the “zone” with some revelation from the Holy Spirit. I looked down at the phone and saw the number calling was from Kansas. I don’t know anyone from the “waving wheat” state so I was about to dismiss the call as spam. But something inside of me, or should I say “someone” convicted me that I should take the call. I answered and prayed it wasn’t a solicitor. I heard a jovial voice on the other end ask, “Is this Trey?” That question started an hour-long phone conversation that would leave a deep imprint on me and our ministry.
It was a pastor from a small town. He had been with the same church for years as an associate. As I listened, I remembered he had actually reached out to me on Instagram a few weeks before asking if we could have a chat about MPACT on the phone. I had given him the MPACT general number so now, it seemed, it was time for that chat.
After only a few minutes of small talk, we both realized we had some common connections in other cities. I could tell he must be an effective minister of the gospel as he communicated in a calming, peaceful way. He spoke enthusiastically about his church, family and favorite sports teams . . . yes, he was a Dallas Cowboys fan! He had a passion for people and life that was undeniable, and he was passionate about his Christian identity and sharing the good news of grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
As I listened, I could tell he was going somewhere serious, but he just wasn’t quite ready yet to go deep. He inquired about how MPACT can help brothers outside of our Florida home base. He talked of the importance of having men you can trust to share things within atmosphere of grace; how he discovered us at MPACT, through a Christian social media page, and believed in our mission of helping men everywhere discover grace. He then said how tough it is as a pastor to share his own heart and weaknesses in fear of repercussions from his church and community. I then asked a simple question, “How can I pray for you and your family bother?”
He took a deep beath, “Trey, I’ve been a pastor for years, have worked with so many people to help them overcome their thorns of life that torment them. I know you can relate to the stresses of being in the ministry and I love how you and MPACT encourage so many brothers to go deep and get real. Those stressful times can be so intense, and they often keep me up at night. Trey, I have a problem and feel I have no one to go to as an outlet out of fear of the consequences. I really don’t know how to ask this, but I need help.” I told him, “That’s why the Holy Spirit guided you to me brother. Go ahead, tell me, I have your back.”
“Trey, my wife travels a couple of days each month. When she does, I surf pornography for hours on end. It started in a small way. She was out of town; I had just hung up from a facetime call from her hotel room as we said, “I love you and goodnight.” I then started scrolling on my social media page. I clicked on a post that went straight to a porn site. It was only a picture of a girl in a bikini on a beach! I clicked . . . I was directed to a full-blown porn site. I clicked again; and again, and I liked it. It’s been going on for a few months now. I’m ridden by guilt and shame. I feel all alone and like a failure because there’s an urge to go back. I’m just thankful it’s only a few times per month. I don’t know what to do, who to tell or what help to seek. I’m a pastor Trey, I love the Lord. I know this is horrible as I look in the mirror each morning and don’t like what I see. When my wife tells me she has to travel for work, I immediately begin stressing out and the anxiety consumes me. I need help. I need someone to reach out to, to let him know my struggles, just to listen and possibly help me overcome this. I know you’re busy Trey, but would it be ok if I call you on those nights that she goes out of town? I just don’t have anyone local I can go to.”
Hearing the extreme hurt, guilt and shame in his voice stirred me. I said, “Brother, your story is why MPACT Ministries was formed. Of course, you can reach out to me anytime on my personal phone! I’ll be here with love, sometimes it may be tough love, but I will always share grace with no judgement or condemnation.” He began weeping as I reminded him of who he was. Who God says he truly is as His son. How this situation, while not acceptable, doesn’t define him. As a believer in Christ, only Jesus defines who he is; forgiven, holy, justified and righteous. I reminded him that when he did look in that mirror, it was the Spirit, who Jesus promised, convicting him that his actions aren’t who he is. It was His Grace trying to show him he can get through this temporary setback through the most powerful force God ever gave us. His Holy Spirit.
He sniffed and took a deep breath. We prayed for peace, strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit to steer him away from this temptation. We agreed he would call me when the temptation arises so we could sort through those feelings, as brothers, together. As we wrapped up the conversation, that confident voice I heard earlier in our conversation returned from my new friend. I could tell some healing occurred for him that night.
Two weeks later, on a Monday night, Donna and I were meeting some friends for dinner. As we were walking into the restaurant, my phone buzzed with a text from Kansas. The words read, “Can we chat real quick?” I called him and he told me his wife had just left for a two-day trip. I asked him if he was okay? He said, “I am now. I’ve got this Trey.” I told him, “I got you brother, so does Jesus. You call me if you feel the need later this evening.”
I didn’t hear from my friend that night. I have to admit I was worried about him. But I decided to trust God with my friend and not call him back after I got home from dinner. The next morning, I sent him a simple text, “U OK?” My phone rang moments after I hit send. “Trey last night was awesome. After I hung up from you, I prayed for strength, guidance and a sign to help me. As soon as I said Amen, my doorbell rang. It was my son. He wanted to hang, eat wings and watch the Cowboys play on Monday Night Football! Yes, I’m great. Last night was one of the best nights of my life. Thanks for being there. The fact you knew I was by myself triggered something in me. I gained a little confidence I was going to overcome this and move forward. Thanks for being there.” A tear came to my eye as I told him he was amazing and that I loved him. I also told him I expected the same call if there was another time when that temptation popped up.
After that night, I heard a few times from my friend each month. It was always a text, “I got this tonight! No need to call.” Then over time, the frequency of the texts declined more and more. Today, I haven’t received that text or phone call in about 8 months. Oh, we do still chat frequently. We always discuss redemption and overcoming our thorns, through grace. My friend has moved on from his church. He felt he needed a reset there. But he still ministers to people every day at his job and through some social media groups. The guilt has lifted, he’s moved forward, he’s free of that thorn. Through God’s grace and brotherhood. The MPACT way!
Do you understand how amazing you are through your faith in Christ Jesus? Do you understand that his love is unconditional, even if you do happen to screw up. You’re forgiven and holy brother and sister. His blood and resurrection insured that, if you’re a believer in HIM. Always focus on Christ in you as Satan tempts you in life. That jerk doesn’t stand a chance! Find that brother or sister that will be there when you may be weak. They will have your back. And they may need you to have their back one day. Also, if you are a brother that struggles with the same things as my Kansas friend, please reach out to us through our Brotherhood Support network page on our website. Especially if you're a pastor. Did you know, according to Barna research, 57% of pastors admit they have struggled with porn; 64% of youth pastors! We’d love for you to send us that note when temptation hits you in your life.
Thanks for following, believing in and supporting MPACT in our mission of helping men everywhere discover God’s grace and who they are . . . ONE MAN AT A TIME.