I’m amazed at how fast we eat our wounded. Not too long ago my friend (yes, I still call Chad my friend) was fired from his church. Now, the simple reason is because he didn’t believe in “hell” (as defined by the Evangelical Church), but the reality is, it’s far more complicated. I got to know Chad long before he gained his 15 minutes and went through a public meltdown of his personal life. He was fired, almost didn’t graduate with his Masters, his wife filed for divorce and he was at the point of coming apart at the seams. Besides his understanding of “hell,” he faced an issue so many of us, from both genders deal with, porn. Life was hard for Chad, and yes I can relate – I’ve been there, we all have. Not only did I walk a mile in his shoes, I was the cobbler who designed the shoes. As his life went through some major twists, people voiced their concern and love, and that was great. But Chad needed more than our words, he needed to be in a place where he could process his life and demons and seek healing; and let’s be honest with each other, Facebook and blogs do not offer much in the way of healing.
In this breakdown, Chad sought help. I’m certain he looked in many places and asked many questions. In his searching he found a place called Pure Life Ministries. Why did he pick Pure Life? I don’t know, but I’m sure, it could have been cost, the program or many other reasons. If we’re honest with ourselves, and we asked ourselves the question, “Would I’ve picked Pure Life?” At best we can only say we’re not sure, we might have. Either way, it’s the place Chad selected, for his reasons and I (or anyone) is in the place of second guessing Chad’s choice. I commend Chad for seeking out help, for seeking out a way to deal with his personal demons. You see, his (as it is with all of us) recovery is a process and we should all be supporting him in the process.
I know what you’re thinking now, “So, why did he walk away from his friends?” I’m not sure he walked away from his friends, all of them anyway. I’m pretty sure he was told not to reconnect to areas of his “old life” so he could move forward in his healing. Now, this causes those of us who consider him a friend to be insulted, but I think it’s a good idea. I think he needs to process his journey without hearing others telling him his recovery was based on bad theology. I think if he jumped back into our conversations he would do more damage to his spirit and his journey then we could imagine. Personally, even though I’ll miss his friendship, I understand and support his decision to move on – it’s healthy for him to do so. I’m willing to give-up my friendship with Chad to help him find his understanding of the Divine and comfort in his personal life.
What I find so frustrating is that there are those who walk with me who are completely devastated not by Chad’s recovery, but because he changed his stance on hell. They call him “brainwashed” or “trader” or a “robot” or that he was “programmed.” While some of my friends have been kinder (I think John Shore has been great in processing what has happened). John wrote:
Chad! Great to hear from you! Sounds like you’re feeling very good about your time at Pure Life. That’s wonderful. I guess you and I don’t share beliefs about hell anymore! But so what? When it comes to what’s behind Door Number Death, even the most religiously inspired must admit that ultimately they, too, are necessarily speculating. The important thing is that you’re now feeling better and back with your family. How beautiful is that? The best of luck to you in whatever preaching or writing opportunities are surely awaiting you now.
Because this happened so quickly, we’re filled with speculation, our heads are spinning. We have a great many questions – and, while this may sound harsh, I’m not sure we’ve the right to know the answers. Chad’s journey is one he must take himself, one he must maneuver in connection with his understanding of how the Divine is working in his life. At best, we can simply say, “Love ya Chad, and I hope you find the answers you seek. Let me know if I can help.” But, until Chad takes the time to reach out, we should not be willing to reach in and pull him out of anything – that would cause more problems.