A Brother In The Night
- 2005 9 Dec
It all started when my father died in 1996. A tremendous loss for me - a loss so painful I stuck it in a box and chose not to deal with it. Even after 25,000 hours of counseling others about the importance of going through the grieving process, I didn't heed my own advice. Forty-eight hours after burying my dad, I was on the road again, ministering to families.
To cope, I stayed busy and added more stress to my life. I made a major career change. I took a strong stand for integrity and lost tens of thousands of dollars. I got caught in a conflict with my extended family. All of these issues were swirling around in my head during every waking hour. I couldn't see straight. I couldn't think straight. I couldn't keep my work straight.
Fear. Pride. Insecurity. When I did a gut check, I was struggling with them all.
Before I knew it, I was experiencing full-blown depression. I lost 25 pounds. I was sleeping 14 to 16 hours a day. And I was hiding. Despite the fact that I met weekly with an accountability group, I found it hard to talk to anyone about what I was going through.
That's when a close friend of mine stepped into my pain exactly when I needed him. Steve Farrar is a man I share the platform with several times a year at men's conferences. More importantly, he's a man I share my life with. Our weekends together are filled with camaraderie, encouragement and a shared purpose.
And we check up on each other often during the year. One day in the midst of my depression, he called. I told him I would call right back. I didn't do it. He's my best friend and I avoided him - I knew he would want to "go there" with me, and I didn't want to go. Three hours after he didn't hear from me, Steve got on a plane in Dallas and flew to my house in Des Moines. When he arrived at 7 p.m., I was in bed sleeping. The next morning when I woke, my wife, Barb, told me Steve was in the next bedroom.
I went out in the hall and there he was, standing in the hallway in his boxer shorts. He looked at me and said, "Rosberg, I'm not leaving until we clean this up... I'm here for you."
To be honest, I was ticked off at him for coming and at Barb for allowing it. I didn't want to make a big deal out of what I was going through. I figured if I just had a few more days I could clean it up myself.
For four days, Steve stayed with me and forced me to talk. And he listened. I initially struggled to open up to him - fear, pride, and anger held me back. But one night, everything changed. He asked me three questions I couldn't deny:
• "Gary, you feel like God has taken His hand off you, don't you?"
• "You feel like you'll never be able to preach again?"
• "And you even feel like Barb should've married someone else?"
Three questions and he nailed me. I knew at that moment he knew what was inside my heart. All pretenses were gone. All denial was gone. I was known. I sat weeping for the first time. Steve gave me the security and freedom to express my pain because I knew he understood me, he was committed to me, and he believed in me.
The counsel he gave me that night proved to be turning point in my battle with depression. I'll never forget what he said: "Gary, one thing I've learned is that God doesn't fully use a man until he breaks him. God is allowing you to experience this pain as he prepares you for an even greater work. He hasn't taken His hand off you. You will preach again. And yes, Barb should've married someone else." (We laughed through our tears on the third one.) "God is breaking your heart and bringing you into a deeper relationship with Him. But you've got to walk through the pain."
Steve reminded me of the hope I have in God. I realized that God had provided me with Steve and other brothers who were willing to strap on the armor and fight the good fight with me. I just had to allow them in
That week with my accountability group, I shared with them what I was really going through. I felt this strange emotional release as I just sat there with my friends, weeping. They listened, they prayed, they showed up.
Guys, we need each other. This thing called Christianity really is a team sport. We weren't meant to do it alone. You have a wife, children and brothers who want to get close to you. When you self-protect, you break their hearts. You also break the heart of our Father.
Accountability begins with Christ, spreads to your wife, and flows out to your buddies.
My experience during my depression changed my life and my perspective on what "being a friend" really means. It's about more than pats on the back, high fives and occasional lunches to catch up on each other's lives. It's about real men trying to finish well - men who have the guts to dive under the waterline and share their hearts with each other. To deal with the real issues in life and get to the bottom of them.
Let me push on your chest today and challenge you to do a "heart check" on what's going on below the waterline in your life. Next, let a few guys get close enough to know what you're really feeling. Are there issues to be dealt with that you're running from? Chances are, they know it and you know it, so why not let them in? Last of all, be sure you're investing in your friends during the daylight hours so when nighttime falls and you need them, they'll know your voice.
I think I'll give Steve a call and check up on him.
Portions of this article were adapted from 40 Unforgettable Dates with Your Mate, Copyright 2002 by Dr. Gary and Barbara Rosberg, all rights reserved. Published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., www.tyndale.com. To order this resource or to find our more about America's Family Coaches, visit www.afclive.com or call 1-888-ROSBERG. For more information about the Divorce-Proofing America's Marriages campaign logon to www.divorceproof.com.