Prior to getting married, Nazari was in a men’s group through our church. It consisted of men of all ages that met weekly, many of whom had struggled deeply with loss and addiction.
There was one guy in particular who really stuck out to Nazari. Over the months of meetings, they got to know each other pretty well and became good friends.
One evening found them lost in deep conversation. This man, we’ll call him Jim, trusted Nazari enough to share with him his story.
Jim had a wife and three kids. The key word there, unfortunately, is ‘had’. You see, he was recovering from a very serious addiction to pornography. It got so serious that it started to take over his life. His wife eventually found out and it brought her tremendous hurt and placed a vast barrier between them. There were tears and ultimatums and each conversation between the two ended with Jim promising he would change.
But he didn’t stop. He just tried harder to hide it.
Things improved for awhile, but eventually, all that he was hiding was inevitably discovered. The walls between he and his wife grew higher, the barriers wider, and trust became all but non-existent. His addiction demanded his time, as well as the attention of his eyes and heart. While he was pre-occupied, his family began to slip away, right there in front of him.
One day, his wife walked into a side bedroom, only to find him there, consumed with the very thing he had promised to stop.
Right there, she decided her heart had broken for the last time. She placed the final brick into the wall that had been building up so high for years. It was finished. With a cold distance, and ice in her heart, she pronounced that this was it.
It took losing everything he held dear to an empty addiction for Jim to finally seek help. All the while he was healing, his heart and soul ached for his family. He wanted them back. He wanted his life with them back.
So he began, for the first time in far too long, to fight for them. He tried to pursue them, and love them. Flowers. Picnics. Showing up to birthday parties and school events. Sweet notes. And on and on.
But in their story, it was tragically too little, too late.
He shared with Nazari that some days he would go out for a walk by himself. And he would stick his hand out, and adjust his fingers just so, to mimic the shape his hand would form if he was holding his wife’s hand. He would imagine her next time him; her hand in his. And tears would run down his face, as he reminisced on his love, lost.
Nazari shared this story with me about a year into our marriage. We were out for an evening walk on a cool night, and he was overcome with sadness. We sat down on a nearby curb and tears filled his eyes. After finishing this man’s tragic story, he held my hand, looked into my eyes, and proclaimed,
“I am Jim. Jim is me, just twenty years in the future.
I did this to you and our kids. I lost it all. Everything.
But God has given me a second chance with you. He has rewound time to this very moment. This life here with you is my second chance.”
While, obviously, Nazari is not in actuality Jim, he informed me that he does want to live every day as if he was. Each day, strive to live out his God granted second chance to get it right, and not take for granted the gifts and lives that are right in front of him.
In a world that so often lives for impulsivity and instant gratification, behind the mantra of "Live Like You're Dying", I was taken aback at how differently life looks with this alternative perspective.
It may not be a serious addiction, but many other things can build up and tear us apart over time if we aren't careful. Things like responding negatively. Being disrespectful. Secrets. Not carving out time for one another. Not continuing to pursue each other. Laziness.
As we enter into a new year full of hope and resolutions, we pray we are able to consistently have this outlook. To not miss the gifts right in front of us. And approach our time, our tone, and each task, conversation, and relationship as if it truly is our second chance.