Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Accountability is a trap.

I'm involved in a men's group that is focused on brokenness, accountability and healing. It's a really challenging group because in many ways it breaks down the walls that men typically put up between their feelings and their surface world. You don't get to keep secrets or shrug off things but in many cases have to deep dive into who you really are, which is rarely an easy thing to do.

One of the things I do within the group is sponsor new guys. For the first few weeks I call them on the phone and answer any questions they have. The reason I do that is that initially, walking into our room is really hard to do. When you come at first you don't have a name tag, so you write it on one of those generic "hello my name" is stickers. But you don't need to see the sticker to know who is new, you just have to look for "first night face." It's a mixture of terror and apprehension with a slight dose of hope.

The thing about this group is that it's honest and the truth is that accountability in many ways looks like a trap. You're going to be sharing feelings that you might have held for years. You're going to be letting go of secrets that have defined you internally for decades and that's a scary thing to do. But sometimes, if you want to live, you have to be willing to die.

That's the current state of affairs with the squirrel in my attic right now. I wrote about him the other day. When we nailed shut the hole he was using to get in, we accidentally entombed him in the attic. For the last 6 days he's been desperately trying to find a different way out, but he can't. There are no other holes. He has no food and no water. Last night though, I gave him one last hope.

I put a trap in the attic.

If he gives in, if he walks willingly into the trap, he'll live. I'll drive him to some field and set him free. But if he refuses, if he tries to find a different way out of the mess he's in, his own way, he is going to eventually run out of energy and die.

That's a situation we all face when we decide to enter into intimate, honest relationships with people. They often look like traps at first. They seem uncomfortable and foreign and dangerous. And they are, when you really share who you are, your life changes. For many people that's not initially something that feels good. But that's what we are called to do:

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16

I don't know if you're standing in an attic of your own making right now, afraid to go into a trap. I don't know if you've only just started to yearn to be known by other people or maybe you're still fighting it.

But if you want to live, if you want freedom and real relationships with God and others, you have to embrace the trap.


Writeaway said...

Amen, brother! And while it's difficult for women, we tend to be a little more transparent, I think. So glad you're part of changing the men in our community. You have a few more left to go....

Shanda said...

Oh, my word. I am sending a link to this post to all my friends. I have been a part of a celebrate recovery group and I can so relate to what you are saying here. Transparency is a hard thing to face, especially it seems for me.

Paul Nickerson said...

Wish I had said this. Great statement about the importance and dangers of accountability and not having it. May I use this to encourage this kind of accountability in the men I am working with? I am going to assume you are saying yes until you tell me no! Here's to hundreds of men coming out of hiding!

Abby said...

Awesome word picture - very encouraging and very challenging. Thanks for reminding me to be trapped and to set that trap for others.