I had never heard the term ‘parallel play’ until my son was a toddler. But once it was described for me, I completely got it. While he didn’t directly interact with other kids in the room, he enjoyed doing his own thing while other kids in the room were doing their thing. He played on his own, but parallel to them while they played.
I know where he got that from.
My default is not to be a social butterfly.
Sure, I can turn it on when I need to, but I recharge by withdrawing . . . usually with my wife while watching tv & eating a bowl of cereal. That’s my happy place.
I’m what’s called an outgoing introvert.
Over the past few years though, I have developed some close friendships at my local church. Most of them started after attending men’s events together, especially retreats. Things as simple as text threads matured into deep friendships among a fairly diverse group of guys.
As such, I have a group of good Christian men I can depend on, be encouraged by, and be sharpened by.
In addition, I have another layer of friends that I casually know. People that I have enough of a relationship with that I can carry on a conversation for a few minutes, but I don’t know where they live, what their kids’ names are, what they do for a living (sometimes . . . guys are decent at talking about that), or what their dynamics are within their families.
Your local church is a natural place for both these types of relationships to develop.
However, too often guys will attend church a couple times a month. They’ll walk in, shake hands with a few people, exchange a few laughs, and then head out as soon as service is done and spend the next 6 days living their life without connection to anyone they interacted with on Sunday.
THAT is PARALLEL LIVING.
As part of your journey toward a life free of pornography & lust, you must learn how to push past parallel living and integrate yourself with other Christian guys. It’s not easy and will rarely happen by accident. You must be INTENTIONAL and PURPOSEFUL.
If you are not currently serving actively somewhere in your local church, that needs to change IMMEDIATELY. Hold doors and welcome people, pour coffee, be an usher, hold babies in the kids area, work in kids’ church, play on the worship team, help run sound or media, or help set out chairs each week. Do something & do it REGULARLY . . . NOT occasionally. And exchange numbers with another guy and proactively contact him during the week!
Don’t say to your pastor or church leader, “let me know if you need me”.
Make a firm commitment, be a part of the church every week, and show up early and give it your best, working in line with the direction of your church leaders.
Again, this is not natural for most guys. But it’s necessary if you’re going to truly become the man of God you’re designed to be.
Sexualized habits will only loosen their grip on your life as you work HOLISTICALLY . . . EVERY ASPECT OF YOUR LIFE. You must work on becoming a better, more consistent & dedicated Christ follower all around, not just stronger in one given area.
Don’t live parallel to all the other people you see. Integrate & be a part of the community of God and develop deep, true friendships that will encourage & challenge you to become better.
And connect during the week – not just Sundays!
Thoughts to Journal/Pray:
- Are you living parallel to other Christian men or are you integrated? Who are you closest with?
- Are you attending church to check the box or be a part of what the church is doing?