The sound of your text message. A sound you hear on a regular, daily basis. You hear the notification, pick up your phone, and decide if you want to message back. That’s the beauty of messaging, you don’t have to respond. If you don’t want to respond, you don’t have to; and if you want to, but not right now, you can respond later.
Messaging has major benefits!
One of the habits we encourage at Pure Desire is making weekly phone calls. It’s a part of the group experience and part of the homework each week. Phone calls? Really?
When I hear the word phone call, I think of the old phone mounted on the wall with the twisty 30-foot cord attached between the mount and the phone. Each time you hit a button a loud beep rings. There were those families whose phone didn’t have buttons: you had to put your finger in the number and twist all the way back to the end, wait for the dial to twist back, then move on to the next number. As long as your number didn’t have many 9s or 0s, it was fairly simple.
Phone calls are outdated, right?
Why yes, yes they are. But just because something is outdated doesn’t mean it’s lost its value.
Why are we encouraged to make phone calls each week and not just message or text? If I am going to make phone calls, when should I make them? And, if I really do pick up my phone and press a few buttons and hear a voice on the other end say, “Hello?” how should that phone call proceed?
These are questions I’d like to address with the next 8 minutes of your life.
The reasons to make phone calls each week are simpler than you might think. There are three main ways that making phone calls is valuable to your life:
As we go through our day, it’s easy to keep our head down and only think about what is right in front of us. We aren’t very alert or aware of what is going on during our day. This can cause difficulty when working to recover from addiction or create health in our lives. Phone calls create that weekly break from the day-to-day. We can talk to another live human being about their day and hear their thoughts, feelings, and actions. Phone calls allow us to be more intentional with being alert and aware of our daily flow and how to best maneuver through our day.
One of the major reasons why messaging can be inviting is that it allows us to communicate “from a distance.” We’re hiding (in most cases) behind a keyboard. We can hide tone or real emotions in our standard “I’m fine” message response. But we can’t exactly do that during a phone call.
If I call you and ask how your day is going and you respond “I’m okay,” I can hear the sad tone you used and press in. Through messaging, you can put up a good front, but when you’re hearing the voice, tone, and word choice of others, you’re more likely to pick up on what’s really going on.
Pursuing health, in any arena, is not something we should do alone. Community is a large piece of pursuing health in life and becoming more like Christ. We not only need to be in community, but we also need to “be” community. We need to invite others into our life. When we give them the keys to our lives, we are giving them a channel where they can speak truth, encouragement, or rebuke. This can’t be done without connecting with one another on a regular basis. This is another reason why making weekly phone calls, connecting with one another, is so important.
Let me describe a conversation I’ve had many different times.
Person 1: “How did making phone calls go this week?”
Person 2: “Eh, I didn’t really make phone calls.”
Person 1: “Oh ya? How come?”
Person 2: “I got off work late and figured Johnny was having dinner, so I didn’t call.”
Person 1: “Totally get that. What about the other guys?”
Person 2: “Well, I had time Saturday morning, but I assumed that Doug was probably sleeping in or having breakfast with the family.”
Person 1: “So, did you call anyone this week?”
Person 2: “No, I didn’t.”
I’ve been both of these people at different times in my recovery. I’m quick to assume that people don’t have time to take my call. I’ve also sat by my phone wondering if a group member was going to call me that week. There have been weeks where I relapsed; in that moment, if I would have just called a guy in my group, it wouldn’t have happened. But, because I didn’t reach out, I didn’t take the steps necessary to handle the weak moment. If I would have reached out, things would have, could have, gone better.
The simple answer here: make phone calls when you need to make phone calls. If you feel triggered, make a call. If you feel temptation creeping up on you, make a call. If you’re feeling good after a victory, make a call. If you’re thinking about a group member, make a call. If you’ve just had a really tough conversation with your spouse or your kid, make a call.
There is never a bad time to make a call to a group member. And from my experience, you’ll never regret making that call.
I’m one of those people that likes to know all the details before I walk into or try something new. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to know what these phone calls should look like.
I’ve learned this from other group members, group leaders, and Pure Desire staff:
When you make your weekly phone calls, checking in on where you’re at on the FASTER Scale is a great habit. When your group member asks you where you are on the scale, it forces you to slow down and think through your day and the emotions you are carrying around. This is simply just asking, “Where are you on the FASTER Scale?” This is an easy but very impactful habit during your weekly phone calls.
At the end of group each week, we are asked to make a commitment to change. Choose something that you’d like to work on for that week. This is an area where we keep each other accountable. In this phone call, we should ask about the group member’s commitment to change and how they're doing with it. This will force us to evaluate our goal for the week. This can create accountability, encouragement, and a better partnership between group members.
One quick caveat I’d like to make: accountability is more about partnership than policing. What I mean––moral policing is not true community. Shaming and harshly rebuking group members when they are slacking on their commitment to change is not a good look. It doesn’t help you, your group member, or your relationship. You should view yourself as a partner, one who brings encouragement and prayer with you as you walk alongside your fellow group members.
The further along we are on our healing journey, the more we tend to overlook our weekly victories over sexual addiction. Whether it’s a whole week or a month free of relapse, or a daily victory when you felt triggered, identifying weekly victories is a big part of establishing sobriety.
Our phone calls should always include identifying victories for the week. These victories can be the smallest thing and can be the biggest thing, but identifying them is so important to maintaining traction in our healing journey. Don’t miss the opportunity to identify the “win” from the week. Weekly phone calls are a great way to identify victories and share them with the other members in your group. Using the momentum from these victories can be a real game changer for many people working through their healing journey.
Making phone calls takes energy, intentionality, and focus. We have to work at it if we want to make it a habit. If we don’t work at it, we unintentionally create an unhealthy habit of isolation and avoidance. This never helps anyone on their journey toward healing. Growth takes work and weekly phone calls are a practical tool for facilitating growth.
There should be no excuse now for why we can’t make phone calls. We now understand the why, the when, and the how.
Let’s turn the ding-ding into a ring-ring.
Trevor is the Marketing & Communications Director at Pure Desire Ministries. He has been in ministry leadership for 8 years in the areas of Worship and Student Ministries. Trevor has a bachelor's degree in Psychology and is passionate about people understanding that sexual and emotional health is possible.