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Wasted2Cor4

Christ Following Mom–Heroin Following Child

Shadow War

How could we not have known? Seven years of wasting away. At age 13 when people asked us if she had that “teenage attitude” yet, we would say no and assure them it wouldn’t happen to her. She was active with church activities, music lessons, and loved being with the family; but by age 15, it felt like we had lost her.

We knew there was a problem, but we couldn’t nail down the source. There were odd physical ailments. She had lost interest in the family, music lessons, sports, and church youthgroup. She didn’t enjoy anything she used to, and seemed to be getting depressed. She wasn’t openly rebellious; she didn’t miss curfew. She had good grades, and we knew her friends and their parents (the ones she let us know). We tried to be supportive and understanding. We took her to the doctor, a child psychologist, and a church counselor. The experts must have known, but they were not allowed to tell us what the actual problem was.

So we continued to fight an unseen enemy. Something we couldn’t touch, but we could feel, the shadow of which dimmed our home. I began fasting and praying regularly for protection of our family and freedom for our daughter. I prayed Isaiah 58:6 to reach God’s heart:

Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke?

After a year of serious prayer it seemed that the heaviness was lifted from our home. A lightness returned, and we were able to joke around again and enjoy each other’s company. The constant tension was relieved for my husband, son, and me, but not our daughter. She spent more and more time out of the house. When we tried to search her room or double check her location, things seemed to check out ok. We were throwing blind punches in the thickening atmosphere separating us and our child. That sounds melodramatic, but now the light of truth has revealed the full situation, it doesn’t even remotely describe the critical battle that had been going on for years.

My husband asked her several times point blank if she was doing drugs, but she denied it and it seemed unthinkable. Heroin is cruelly deceptive. It is cheaper and easier to get for kids than alcohol, and you can’t smell it on the breath. I never saw her red-eyed, just sleepy, and she had so many little physical problems she took medication for, it masked it.

With no evidence of her wrongdoing, I felt like maybe I was the crazy one. It  was a shadow war. My assumptions and attempts to help my daughter were sightless grasping into a dark pit. I couldn’t take the anxiety of trying to be a detective, so I had to settle on the Lord’s omniscience. My prayer became, “Please reveal what I need to know when I need to know it.” God answered this prayer. The times that circumstances came to light were not when I was frantically searching for clues, but out of the blue when I was at peace.

In some ways the ignorance was a blessing. Even now I think our attempts to brake her addiction would have been futile. She had rejected our lifestyle and us, and she was determined to go her own way.

If you are bewildered and wondering how you didn’t know about your child’s addiction, or if you are frustrated and terrified you won’t be able to save your child, please determine to settle into God’s omniscience and omnipotence. You are not smart enough or strong enough to fight this shadow war alone.

-For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Eph. 6:12-13 (Our battle)

-We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. 1 John 5:19-20 (Our battle)

 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Heb. 4:13* (God’s knowledge)

Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite. Ps. 147:5 (God’s power and knowledge)

-In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;  and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Rom. 8:26-28 (God’s knowledge)

-and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God…But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; 1 Cor. 2:4-5, 7 (God’s power trumps our persuasive words)

-For indeed He was crucified because of weakness, yet He lives because of the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, yet we will live with Him because of the power of God directed toward you. 2 Cor. 13:4 (God’s power over death)

*Several references above were compiled by thoughtfulfaith @ wordpress.com — https://thoughtfulfaith.wordpress.com/2010/03/10/ten-bible-verses-god-is-omniscient/#comment-8172

New American Standard Bible (NASB)Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

 

 

 

 

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Devastated

You never know what goes on behind closed doors. This is what people say when kids from good families go bad. I was naïve. A year ago I would have put my arm  around the shoulder of a devastated parent and told them it wasn’t their fault, but somewhere in me I believed it was. I needed to believe that because it meant it couldn’t happen to me.

When I see a gruesome crime on the news, I am secretly relieved if the perpetrator is a relative of the victim. It’s horrible, but something in me says, “that can’t happen to me.” If your child is not an addict, you can skip my blog. You can keep telling yourself it can’t happen to you.

But my false security blanket of belief has been pulled away. Our daughter, cherished by her family, reared in the love of Christ, is a heroin addict. Even now I know some are looking for the chinks in the walls. Some are thinking, “I can tell already you are overly religious and controlling.” Some are thinking, “You must be hypocritical and permissive.” I know people need to blame us.

But I know the truth. We did our best. We played and did crafts. We went to the library and the zoo. I stayed at home and then worked part time when she was in school so a parent would always be available. My husband worked full time and was always home for dinner. We attended church and volunteered for ministry regularly. We studied the Bible at home.

I don’t say these things proudly. I can’t. I am forever cloaked in the humility only the feeling of a devastating failure can bring. No matter what we did right, I failed to rear a law-abiding, moral child. The thing I have dedicated the last twenty-one years of my life to, I failed at.

I know there are others like us—Christian families with children who have chosen to rebel. I guess I hope this blog can minister to them. I will try to always end with an encouraging thought. Today I will try to embrace the humility of my failure—

Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. James 4:10 (NASB)

The Lord mocks the mockers but is gracious to the humble. Prov. 3:34 (NLT)

Seek the Lord, All you humble of the earth who have carried out His ordinances; Seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden In the day of the Lord’s anger. Zeph 2:3 (NASB)

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Col. 3:12-13 (NIV)

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My Prayer Problem

I have been praying for my child since she was born, and even before. I prayed she would love and follow the Lord. I prayed she would make good friends and good choices. I prayed her mind and body would be protected. I prayed for her future spouse, that he would be a kind, Christian man.

God’s answer to my prayers, at least up til now, has been ”No.” I am having a hard time with this.  I was not praying for material things or selfish things, and I truly believed that God would answer this prayer in the affirmative.  If I was on the other side of this I would say, “There is time. God can still do a miracle” or “Someday she’ll have an incredible story and give God glory as she helps others.” These things might be true, but for now her life has been the complete opposite of all my prayers.

It’s hard to pray now. I have said it all. There is no more compelling or articulate way I can touch the heart of God or stir His hand.

A friend of mine died Monday of ovarian cancer. Up to the very end she was sure God was going to heal her physically. She had more than a mustard seed of faith. No one could have believed harder.

And so I find it hard to pray. Not the talking to God about it. Prayer has always been my first, not last, response to life. But now it is hard to drum up the correct emotion to carry with me after my prayers are off my tongue. I cannot muster up enough expectant hope that God will do as I’ve directed to put a smile on my face. I cannot say with confidence that it’s all going to be ok. For any parent, this, and everything that can follow, is not ok.

I have through prayer and supplication made my requests known to God. A certain amount of peace has followed, but it is surrounded by grief. Our family has lost a lot. For now I’m settling on resignation. I’m trying to grasp the fact that I am not in control, and though God is, what He allows may hurt.

Why should I take my flesh in my teeth
And put my life in my hands?
“Though He slay me,
I will hope in Him.
Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him. John 13:14-15

Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Is 41:10

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:6-7

*“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.” (www.lockman.org.)

A Decent, Depraved Life

I had hopes of my child living a normal life—high school, college, job, marriage, children. It would have been enough for me. If she wanted to move to Nashville to give music a try or move across the sea to devote her life to teaching, I would have been able to accept a slightly, out-of-the-box endeavor. Like any parent, I just wanted my daughter to be happy. It would have been enough for me, but not God.

It makes me think of the incident at the tower of Babel. As a child I puzzled over this passage. When the people united to build a great structure, God intervened to ruin their efforts. It sounded as if God was afraid of us and what humans could do– The Lord said, “Behold, they are one people… and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city.Gen 11:6-8

Now I understand, God was not afraid of us, He was afraid for us and where we would end. He knew if humankind was totally satisfied with this temporal existence they would never seek Him. At the end of their comfortable life they would spend Eternity separated from God. In His mercy He said, “Don’t settle. Don’t spend this vapor of life on physical accomplishment, and find you have nothing in the end.”

What if God is doing the same thing in this lost and addicted generation? Looking good on the outside has never been enough to satisfy one’s soul, but the addict especially has no allusion of success to hold on to. There is no thriving career, no perfect family, no flourishing bank account to lull him into false security. Maybe this is a mercy. Maybe these low and humbled people can be the blessed ones.

Following Christ has always begun with admitting that you are not good enough on your own to earn forgiveness. I am not good enough. No one is good enough. The Bible says, all have sinned and fall short. (Rom 3:23) Only God can bridge the gap of perfection—the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 6:23)

God is reaching out to these struggling, needy people and allowing the pretense of perfection to be stripped away. In His mercy He is making it plain they cannot do it on their own. He is reaching into jails, and group meetings, and psych wards, and gutters, and He is saying, “Turn to Me, The True Higher Power.”

Sadly, I must admit I might have been satisfied if my child had lived a decent, depraved life—a law-abiding, productive existence, void of spiritual depth. (I make no judgement of anyone’s spiritual condition. This is only a statement of what I might have been satisfied with.)

I must be thankful that is not enough for God. He is not satisfied with looking good on the outside, not for me, or my child. He wants to build a beautiful life from the inside out. He wants to start with a pure and forgiven heart in each of us, and add to that what is true and lovely.

-Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.
Ps 139:23-24

 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. John 1:8-9

-“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.
19 “If you consent and obey, You will eat the best of the land.
Is. 1:18-19

– But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matt. 6:33

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Gal. 5:19-24

-Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” Matt. 7:26-27

New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

Anonymous

In this world of open letters and “keeping it real,” why be anonymous? For me there are 2 main reasons—

  1. Our daughter asked us not to share her personal information. I agree. It’s her story to tell, not mine. I can speak to my journey, but no one else’s.
  2. We have younger relatives that wouldn’t understand and older ones that couldn’t handle it. Our close family and friends know there is a problem to pray about, but not the details.

Aren’t you glad God keeps your worst thoughts private? Not the medium-bad thoughts that you might admit to a trusted, closed group, but the worst things that go through your mind, the kind of thought you would never admit.

for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. 1 Chron. 28:9, b

 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Heb 4:13

I am glad to be known that well by Someone, but it’s fearsome too. You can’t fudge it, explain it, or give it a different spin. God graciously allows our thoughts to be private.

Heroin removes the veil too. The addicted person often acts on their worst thoughts. They are laid bare. Things they wouldn’t even admit to themselves cannot be denied if they want to recover. The opportunity for the Gospel is enormous– But (God) gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6

But the Church has a way to go as we learn to embrace these humbled people and their families. Recently at an NA meeting at a local church a lady said, “If you want to know who your friends are, let them know you have a heroin addict in the family. They won’t even want you to visit.”

I have not found this to be true, but for now, I am the emotional alto in the second row of the choir, or the small group leader that takes a break from teaching, or the couple in class with a perpetual, urgent “unspoken” prayer request. I think this anonymity is actually representative of what is going on in your congregation. I have been told more than 1 in 50 people in church are struggling with this issue, and numbers are growing.

A humbling in the Church is a good thing. It reminds us who we are apart from God and who we are in Christ–  nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. 1 Cor 6:10-11.

Pray with me because God is on the move, humbling His people and drawing them to Himself. We need it!—

You (God), even You, are to be feared; And who may stand in Your presence when once You are angry? You caused judgment to be heard from heaven; The earth feared and was still when God arose to judgment, To save all the humble of the earth. Ps 76:7-9

Bitter

Proud pics of your successful teens on facebook make me sad. I had to cut out the social media sight. Happy moms and kids in the grocery store make me cry. I can’t look at them. I took down pictures of my daughter at work so I wouldn’t get emotional. I can’t watch children play at the park. It’s too painful.

If I’m not careful I will be that bitter old woman who appears to hate kids. Maybe I should have more sympathy for her. Maybe she had a family tragedy too that makes watching other sweet, family moments intolerable.

It reminds of Jacob in the Old Testament, the father of the tribes of Israel. On his deathbed he paraded each of his sons into his room and told them their faults (Gen. 49). They were big faults, but that’s not what I want to focus on in my last thoughts. But I could feel myself sliding that direction. All the happy memories our family has had have been so shaded in my mind. I was so angry at the betrayal. Our daughter didn’t just rebel against our family rules, she actively rejected everything I hold as important in life.

I know most parents are as heartbroken as me when they find out about their child’s addiction, and all the accompanying atrocities. Most parents probably want to respond by holding their child tight, getting them in detox and recovery, but they want to keep them close. I was the opposite.

I was so hurt and astounded by the life she had brought upon us, I could hardly look at her. I was glad that we could only see her 2 hours a week during her time in detox, and I absolutely wanted her to do inpatient residential treatment somewhere far away. Everything she had done, and everything she had ruined was ever present in my mind. I’m sorry this was my response. I guess we each experience grief in our own way. I know I can’t judge anyone else’s response, but mine was not good.

Recently my bitterness has been evolving to sadness. I know that’s good, but it hurts more. I think anger was part of the shock process of my grief. It kept me from experiencing all at once the intense loss. It feels like my daughter has died, but no one is bringing our family casseroles and offering kind condolences.

The thing I wish to take from this part of my journey is to remember to weep with those who weep, and offer comfort to those who need comfort. I am hoping that I can connect with other parents grieving the loss of their child to addiction through this blog. If you are going through this, I am just so sorry. It’s a massive grief.

weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Rom. 12:15b-16

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. 2 Cor. 1:3-5

As they were reclining at the table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me—one who is eating with Me.” Mark 14:18

-Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Heb. 4:14-16

Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Cor. 13:11

 

New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

 

 

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