I have lived the struggle and subsequent blessing of heroin addiction in my immediate family. The heartaches and terror of it could fill volumes. Yet, the blessings and lessons learned are equally numerous. A beautifully restored relationship with my son and God’s faithfulness and absolute provision shine through the wreckage even today. God was and is the Peace amidst the pain and suffering.
One life saving provision and blessing for me is the gentle and practical AL-Anon Program. The meeting structure, a safe, complete-acceptance, no-judgement setting, allowed a place to release my terror and trauma so that I experienced firsthand the healing power of sharing an unfiltered story. The “no judgement and no advice policy” allowed The Good Shepherd to be my primary teacher. Hearing others’ raw stories (their experience, strength and hope) showed me how dysfunctional my behavior had become. The practical, effective tools instructed me how to move forward in the current and upcoming mine fields. And a strong, experienced sponsor, who walked step by step with me as I set long over-due, difficult boundaries, gently reminded me – “yes, it will likely get harder and could end in early death – that’s why you must cling to your Savoir”.
As I reflect on the blessing of hard lessons learned, I can say that the Lord taught me bit by bit, and at times abruptly, these refined and precious jewels:
It is wise to learn about the addiction-disease much like one would learn about a rare cancer-disease afflicting a family member. I learned my son was ill and he was not out to hurt me.
It is essential to approach all situations, especially those involving sociably unacceptable, and thus shame-ridden, diseases with unconditional love, to lead with deep compassion and a patient, sincere desire to understand and to check my judgement at the door.
God taught me to let go of what others think, worldly trappings and accomplishments and to seek authentic living with Him and others.
He showed me that He would carry me as I set clear, tough boundaries. Boundaries allow a broken relationship to heal.
He taught me that I could not control this disease much less another person. I can control the words I speak to my adult children (and others) so I must choose my words prayerfully and wisely.
I’ve learned to choose connection and respect over judging, lecturing and preaching; it may provide an opportunity to influence.
I came to understand that when I isolated and withdrew, my shame grew and I got sicker.
He showed me that I had relied on myself for our survival more than Him and that my children had become mini-idols.
Finally, I learned to put my son and his disease in His loving, all-powerful hands and to place it back there when I pick it up and worry.
At this point in my journey, I wish my son had not experienced this horrible struggle. I am grateful for the resulting blessing of being desperate for Jesus. It was in the desperate moments that He sustained me and our relationship deepened. When we call upon the name of our Lord and Savior, when we seek Him, we find Him. And in Him, we find peace, comfort and assurance. Now, I want to help others suffering from the socially unacceptable addiction-disease.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4