The key to accountability is that it is best within a relationship. That means it takes work and needs to be nurtured.
I am a time person. I don’t really respond well to any other kind of interaction. I am a practical gift-giver (yes, this makes Christmas very difficult for my family). I don’t do well with being touched (I do actually threaten to deck people- not very ladylike, I know). I don’t take praise well without questionning your intentions in giving it and don’t even dare try to do anything for me (I am more than capable of doing it myself, thank you very much).
All of that boils down to this fact: My deepest friendships develop not over time but because of time. It doesn’t matter how many years I’ve known you, what matters is the quality of time we have spent together in those years.
Every woman is different. If you don’t know what your relationship need is, take time to figure it out. How do you make friends? More than likely you know your need and fill it even if you aren’t doing it on purpose.
When I was younger, I would tell people, “I don’t go out of my way to say ‘hi’ to people. I sit in the corner of the room and if you take the time to come over and say ‘hi’ to me, then I’m yours, but if you don’t even acknowledge my presence, I don’t have the time of day for you.” I’ve always been a time person, even when I didn’t realize I was a time person.
I’m going to hazard a guess because no one’s ever studied this, but I would assume that most women who struggle with pornography, lust, or masturbation build relationships on either time, touch, or praise.
Think about it.
My path to pornography took me up through the internet chat room world of cybering. Here, in this chat room were “men” “crying out” for me to spend “quality one on one time” with them. They wanted to “spend time” with me. I could consume hours of their time. That was something not afforded to me in my family. It didn’t matter if they told me I was beautiful. Didn’t matter at all, if they were just willing to spend two hours in a chatroom with me, even if we were both lying.
I have a feeling “touch” and “praise” aren’t far behind.
So what does this mean for our path of freedom?
We’re probably going to get out the same way we got in.
If time was something that drew me into pornography and strengthened that bond, then time with something else will draw me out and weaken that bond. The mentors I had in my life at that point understood this and made time for me. They knew that the hugs didn’t help. Knew that the kind words didn’t help. They adjusted my discipleship program accordingly.
Because I am a time person, it would not help to pair me up with a working mom of four who can only pencil me in to share family dinners every fourth Friday and all the rest happens via e-mail. That wouldn’t have worked for me. I would have never benefitted from a relationship like that, but I have many friends who did because a kind word or a hug was enough for them. Not me.
I was paired with two different mentors. Both were older women (in their 60s). The first mentor had no children at home and her husband worked in the ministry. She lived just off campus and I was welcome to their home any time, and often walked down there to spend the evening at home with them or to go down to the local hotel they were remodelling and help them with that. She had time to spare, so I could grow and heal in that relationship. When I became very ill at college, they opened up their home to me and I spent days there, resting while I recovered.
The second year I was paired with a single woman who worked in the same building at headquarters and was also a professor at the college. She would come and eat lunch with me; we would meet after work and talk; we would talk after class. She gave me the gift of time and it weakened the grip of sin in my life because my core needs were being met in real human relationships, not in an online fantasy world.
So here’s three things for you to remember when searching out an accountability partner.
1. Know your need. Maybe you are like me and just need hours and hours to talk through things and to be with people. Maybe you are the kind of person who just needs a little card every now and then, or a text to tell you you’re loved. Maybe you’re the kind of person who needs a hug every morning. Whoever you are, figure it out, because it’s part of your journey.
2. Be sure she can fill it. If you are a touchie feely person it would be unwise to have a Skype accountability relationship with someone who lives 500 miles away. You need someone who is nearby.
Likewise, if you are a time person, like me, don’t choose an accountability parnter who is a full-time working mother of a teething infant and a crazy three year old. She might want to give you the time, but understand that you are probably a bit more than she bargained for and it will just end up stressing you both out. Can she be a valuable friend? Absolutely. Maybe even a prayer buddy, but accountability is a little high maintenance for us “timers.”
3. Communicate it to her. Communication is key in any relationship, even an accountability one. Woman or not, she is no mind reader, and if she doesn’t know what you need, she can’t very well meet that expectation, can she? (no)
For more information on love languages, check out Dr. Gary Chapman’s book, “The Five Love Languages.” I have the version for Singles and it has revolutionized how I interact with many of the people in my life.