Jacob Marley, a key figure in Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, has a lot in common with me and the men I work with every week.
Marley’s ghost appears to Scrooge to warn him, wearing a heavy chain. Scrooge asks him “Why the chain?” and Marley explains he forged it all his life, through selfishness and greed, and that Scrooge was doing the same.
There’s the common element. Men don’t come into my office because of a bad decision they made. They come because of hundreds, even thousands of bad decisions, linked together to forge a chain they, like Jacob Marley, gird and wear of their own free will.
It usually starts with a discovery. Some act – the use of porn, a sexual fantasy, whatever – delivers impact. Deep impact, which the brain carefully records for future reference. Then, when the man is either bored, or angry, or lonely, or uncomfortable in some other way, the brain reminds him of the impact the sexual behavior delivered.
So he repeats it, then the repetition becomes a pattern, the pattern becomes a dependency, and a chain is forged.
Nice Chain. Was it Expensive?
As someone who’s worn that chain, I can attest to how light it seems but how heavy it actually is.
Light, in the sense that it doesn’t seem to be interfering with anything, no consequences seem to be coming, no obvious toll is being taken. God is amazingly patient, giving the man some time to consider the secret sin he’s entertaining and walk away from it before it becomes an
Too many Christian men are going about their church and family business looking fine, but privately forging their chains and mistaking them for light jewelry. They’re in for a terrible wake up call.
That’s because the weight of the chain grows without the wearer really catching on. But from the moment the links are forged his mind is being darkened, his heart hardened, his integrity drained. Since those are internal rather than external consequences, they, like unseen high cholesterol or blood pressure, are easy to ignore until the stroke or heart attack
It’s Christmas. Get a Clue
Yet it comes. In your case it may already have weighed in, and the secret’s out in the open. Scary, and horrible to go through, but necessary, because at least now it’s being dealt with.
Or maybe it’s still coming, as inevitably as Scrooge’s death, and there’s still time to release the chain before it exacts a price you can’t afford. If you’re smart enough to recognize the inevitable, then you’re smart enough to do something about it.
You can tell someone.
You can distance yourself from the chain, by whatever means necessary.
You can look long and hard at how much it weighs by examining the internal damage to your mind, heart and spirit.
Then you can give yourself the Christmas present of new freedom, a fitting way to celebrate the One who came here promising that who He sets free is free indeed.
A Christmas Carol reminds us that as long as there’s still breath in the worst of Scrooges, there’s still potential for a happy ending. Yours is waiting, wrapped and paid for.
Just this once it’s a good idea to open the gift early.