Jesus sets counsellor free from emotional adultery
W struggled with being single and found comfort in her deepening friendship with an older non-Christian co-worker, as opposed to her other friendships, as a result of unresolved father wounds. Since repenting, she has been able to draw clearer boundaries for her heart. Praise God!
I had been struggling with a crush on an older non-Christian man.
I have wanted to date and marry for a long time, but the timing never seemed right. Due to the uncertainties around my work, I didn’t know where I would live or settle so I always felt like I couldn’t date.
After I moved to Hong Kong for a job, I found it difficult to meet Christian men I felt comfortable I could connect with, even as friends. So, the thought of dating felt out of reach.
My work was stressful, and I have always been worried about financial stability and security.
I met a non-Christian man at my workplace. For the first year, I thought of him only as a distant colleague. He had just begun divorcing his second wife, and because he is senior to me, I never thought of him as my “type.” Neither did I think that I was his type.
Because of crises in my workplace, we had to work together to solve problems.
He came across as a fair person. Because of that, I grew to feel safe around him. My workplace became a better place as a result of the steps he was willing to take.
Over time, I became more relaxed around him because I felt respected even though I had less experience, and I enjoyed talking to him because of his sense of humor. We eventually developed a casual friendship that led us to occasionally talk over lunch outside of work.
Later, because neither of us had family in Hong Kong, we celebrated festivals together in small group dinners.
I was drawn to him because he is a very open person and shares stories quite freely with everyone. In contrast, many have described me as “reserved” or “hard to get to know.”
Over the years, I became very guarded as a way to protect myself. To me, listening to stories and sharing my own stories is rare and intimate. Before I knew it, my emotions became far too involved.
Before I moved to Hong Kong, my Christian fellowships had many men who were genuine friends. As I grew older and my friends married, things changed. Even though I have good women friends, I felt like there was a hole in my life that I didn’t know how to fill
My own relationship with my father was distant and tense.
Even though he always wanted to provide for his family, he failed. He was also not a believer, and was under bondage to occult ties and unhealed wounds. The family became fractured because of all the stress, fights, anger, and unacknowledged grief. Growing up, everyone was angry at everyone, and none of us was happy.
No one in my family wanted to know anything about my work, church, friends, or hobbies.
I found myself telling this man about many things that no one else found interesting.
My parents provided food, clothes, and a basic education. But life became all about studying, making money, and keeping money in the bank, because my parents struggled financially for so long. My adult life is similar; it is very hard for me to relax and trust God to place me in the right job and to provide for me financially.
In my family, no one ever asked me about my day or asked me if I had stories to tell, so I never learned to tell anyone about myself. I have always been surprised that I even have friends because I think of myself as dull and quiet with not much to say.
After I left the home, I learned to ask people questions to get them to talk about themselves and noticed that people tend to feel good around me because I was an attentive listener.
But this also allowed me to avoid sharing myself.
As a teenager, I didn’t want to tell my friends about my family’s struggles because I felt ashamed, and felt they were ashamed too even though we didn’t talk about it. I wanted to protect my family. But this became a habit that is still hard to break; it’s easier for me to complete tasks than to relax and chat with others about myself.
So, it seemed like a miracle to me that the hours flew by like minutes when I was with my colleague. He left Hong Kong but we continued keeping in touch over WhatsApp until recently. Even this felt like another miracle because the distance didn’t seem to affect our friendship.
I was, and still am, afraid that I would never find another man like him again.
Despite everything I know biblically, I couldn’t seem to escape from the strong emotions I felt. Hence, I asked a couple of friends who are also prayer counselors to pray with me because I felt stuck in certain ways.
I especially benefitted from the counsel of my friends who I know seek God earnestly in their own personal lives. All of us read the Bible, pray, and fast on our own regularly. I seek God daily on my own, and I do hear from Him when I ask Him questions. Despite consistent prayer and fasting on my own, I felt led to ask my friends to pray with me.
Clarity can come when we pray with others.
As we prayed, my friends gently brought up the topic of adultery. It looked like the Holy Spirit prompted them with the word, but they were hesitant to mention it at first because they didn’t want to offend me. Even though I never crossed the line physically, I had given this man more of my time, emotions, and affections than is normal for a friendship.
A few days before the prayer session, I had glanced at a Christian book that wrote about spiritual or emotional adultery. I had ordered it because I was interested in emotional healing, and the book explains why even well-meaning Christians can sometimes fall into adultery.
I hadn’t told my friends about this book, but when they brought it up, I was convinced that I had to repent.
I had previously thought of my emotions as “just” emotions, but these emotions can lead us to deeper bonds that don’t honor God. In my case, I justified my emotions as “only” emotions, but these emotions led me to attachments that I have not given to other men, and that I may need to reserve only for a husband.
For example, if anything important happens to me at work, I would share the news with him first, and we share jokes or stories that I may not even share with my female friends.
After repenting, I felt more able to step back from this man.
My friends encouraged me to not be hard on myself if these emotions resurface again. When they do, I can quickly ask the Holy Spirit to help me renew my imagination and I don’t have to indulge in fantasy.
I am now quicker to cut off thoughts about this man when they arise, and I am willing to ask Jesus to help me take my thoughts captive.
I don’t try to suppress the emotions I feel, but when I don’t indulge in thoughts such as “What is he doing now?” or “Is he happy?” or even something simple like, “Is the weather hot or cold where he is?” the emotions do become weaker.
I have also refrained from messaging him or replying to his messages.
“Emotional adultery” is a pitfall for any Christian because we may be tempted to share and connect with someone who is not our spouse.
Adultery—either physical or emotional—can often be traced back due to unhealed wounds.
I suspect that it has been hard for me to release this crush because I may not have healed completely from past father wounds. I will continue to seek God’s revelations in this area.
I can also renew my relationship with God as a single person. This is an area of struggle for me because the pandemic has made it difficult for me to meet up with friends and family in person. But despite all these challenges, I can ask God to show me how He means to bless me even now. My frustrations are an invitation to ask God what He wants to do in my current situation and how I can pray.
The enemy twists what I see to lead me into despair. My challenge is to focus on what God’s doing instead.
In the process, I continue to learn humility.
When I look back at recent months, God has actually placed godly, married Christian men around me to provide fellowship and encouragement within healthy boundaries. There are times when I feel frustrated because I don’t have single Christian guy friends, but it is part of walking in surrender and trusting that God knows what’s best for me.
The Bible is clear about not being unequally yoked, and I know that as I grow in spiritual maturity, I cannot share my experiences of God with this man. In fact, there have been many things I have not been able to share with him in the last few years as I experience God’s healing and provision.
2 Corinthians 6:14 ESV Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?
Deep in my heart, I have always known that a friendship this close with a man who is “just a friend” was not right.
But men do see and respond to the world differently than women, and I wanted that interaction. If I had a healthier relationship with my father, maybe it would have been easier for me to trust that men can make right decisions, and then let down my guard around men.
I do struggle with the fear that it’s “too late” now as there are fewer single men of my age in general, and in the church. I’m also still learning how to be open and welcoming to new people, so meeting people is difficult for me. There are days when the future feels overwhelming and all I can do is cry with God. I wish I could say at this point that I’ll never cry about being single again.
I don’t know how to stop the pain for Christian singles like me.
But Jesus also cried at the Garden of Gethsemane, and His heart was ripped apart when He hung on the cross. Right now, I am trusting God for enough grace to get through each day. I spend a lot of time reading testimonies and books by men and women of faith, and each one goes through their own wilderness.
No Christian is free from suffering. Sometimes, they have to grit their teeth and hang in there for dear life. But each one says that when their time of testing ends and when it is over, they experience greater faith and closeness with God. Each one says that worship, while we wait for God’s breakthroughs, is what transforms us.
That’s my hope too, and I want to find my delight in God.
Ironically, a week after I was convicted of emotional adultery, I decided to fast from television for a week because I knew television had become a way to fill my loneliness. On the last night of my fast, I had a dream where God gave me everything that I had ever wanted, and it was a sweet feeling.
The next morning, when I looked at the notes I took in the middle of the night, the last line was, “But nothing compares with the sweetness of being with God.” I laughed because I do continue to struggle with loneliness. But I also remember being convinced in my dream at least, that nothing is sweeter than walking with God.
God’s breakthrough may mean marriage for some. It could mean singleness for me.
But even when I don’t know how my story ends, I respond with worship. Instead of watching an hour of TV, I can sing along to recorded worship sessions, read the Word, and spend time in God’s presence.
Worship as I’ve experienced it rarely looks like the cartoons of serene angels sitting on clouds and playing their harps. We don’t worship because we feel like it. In fact, we need to learn to be honest with God about our fears, doubts, and desires.
But even when our hearts feel like breaking, we can offer a sacrifice of praise. Because that’s where we find God.
Hebrews 13: 15
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.
But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.
Worship doesn’t change our situations like magic. Each time we praise God, our courage grows a little. Our love for Him grows a little. And His love for us becomes a little more real and a little more present too.
(PS – When Moses asked the Israelites to seek the Lord with all their hearts, it was before they entered the Promised Land, not after.)
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