Matt Coker | @BackRowOnline
Before joining the leadership at my church’s Celebrate Recovery program, I was a small group leader at a Celebrate Recovery held in a different church in town. I lead a group called “Integrity of the Mind,” a group of men who want to build up their sexual integrity and develop a healthy view of women and get a handle on any sexual habits or addictions.
When I took the group over, the group had four people in it, and it had been that way for the better part of the two years or so that the group has existed. But after I was asked to share my testimony, we quickly rose to having 15 people in the group.
The leaders of that Celebrate Recovery had really been pushing this group, because they felt lead that this was an area that many men in the program found themselves in. And it had taken hold of many people, who were deciding to be real men.
About a month after I gave my testimony that year, a man walked into the group and sat down. As we do with each new person, we asked him to tell us why he feels he needs to join our group. He told us of his womanizing, his objectifying of women, and so on, and that he finally came to a realization that this is hindering his walk with God and his happiness in life.
Then he turned and looked at me and said something I didn't expect.
He said, “When I heard you give your testimony, I’m gonna be honest with you, I didn’t like you. I was mocking you with my friends and making fun of you.”
It hurt to hear that. I consider myself a likable, sincere guy. But of course, I made some terrible mistakes and I am honest about them when I give my testimony. And there are just some things that people are going to dislike. My addiction was one of them for this guy.
“But,” he said, “When I realized that I had the same problem, I was like ‘Whoa.’ I was wrong and I just wanted to apologize to you for that.” He reached out his hand and I didn’t hesitate to accept it.
This guy was a big guy. Intimidating. But he humbled himself to apologize to me for something I never would have known about had he not told me. That was honorable. That was respectable. That was the right thing to do.
That is a part of the road to recovery: making amends. Both asking for forgiveness from those you’ve wronged and forgiving those who have wronged you, whether they ask for it or not.
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32 KJV
It’s freeing. It lifts a burden off of your shoulders. It helps you to move on.
To me, this man’s apology was humbling. It showed me that God was using my testimony and using this small group. When I was sitting in prison, there were times I thought God would never use me ever again. I never thought he COULD use me ever again. But He did. He does. I can’t wait to see what else he has in store for me. And I’m sorry for ever doubting him.
Matt Coker is the Ministry Director of The Back Row. He is married to a beautiful woman he met when they were both in youth group and they have one mischievous son together. Matt collects Funko Pop figures, loves time travel movies, and enjoys jerky meats. You can contact Matt via the contact page or on Twitter at @BackRowOnline.