One of the prostitutes to whom my wife and I ministered over the years once told us, when we picked her up from jail, that she hated her life but she didn't know how to get out of it. We shared with her about how she could live better, healthier, and wiser. But what struck us most was when she mentioned what she really missed most about life. She said she had lots of "acquaintances" in her business, but very few meaningful relationships. With all that she had been through, the sex, the countless clients, the life of such degradation and despair, what she missed most was having a real friend who cared about her—not her body or what she could do for them, but her.
The human experience requires healthy relationships. And in the absence of healthy ones, we will develop and cultivate unhealthy ones. It is that simple. It is how we are wired. What our prostitute friend was saying is that the real broken place in her was the part that connected to people through friendships, not fees. The more mistakes she made, the more she shut off the real part of her life from other people. She had to do that in order to survive, she thought. But it also proved detrimental to real relationships in her life. The chronic life she led kept her from reaching out to others, until all she had was a set of meaningless encounters that said one thing on the surface and absolutely nothing on the inside.
She was created for relationships—beautiful, whole, meaningful relationships. But when life turns in on us, sometimes we will grab hold of whatever relationship we can and then hope that this one might mean something.
One of the worries of the chronic life is a series of meaningless relationships. This is not normal. God has something better in store.
Worry Number Two: The Accumulation of Mental, Relational, and Emotional Garbage
SHANE: Not far from where my family used to live was a large landfill. The community had dealt with this section of town for years. Not only was it unsuitable for building, many considered the chemicals and waste harmful to the health of those who lived in the area, especially the children at the housing project nearby. Eventually the city responded and discovered that the years of accumulation of garbage, rubbish, and other thrown-away materials not only had made the grounds unstable but also had seriously impacted the environment. The community was forced to dig up the garbage, clean out the landfill, and re-soil the area with lime in order to kill any harmful toxins. But even after the land had been "cleaned and restored," still, no one would purchase the property or agree to build. The point is that garbage has as much a mental impact on our community as a physical one.
I have watched friends who have spent years accumulating mental, emotional, and relational garbage in the corners of their lives. They never intended for their lives to be so full of dangerous toxins and effects. But at the end of the day, they are full of rotten, unsafe materials, promises, relationships, patterns, and attitudes that have made their lives almost unbearable.