Broward & I-95

panhandler

He said, “I’m from Broward and I-95”.

One time, when someone said they were from New Jersey another called out “what exit?”. Another time, one of the new men announced “I’m from New Jersey, I’m Puerto Rican and I don’t carry a switch blade.” Most of the time, the new men who are asked to stand and give us their name and tell us where they’re from do just that. They say, “I’m Michael and I’m from Michigan.” “I’m James and I’m from Long Island.” No one ever says they’re from detox or prison or under the bridge, even if that’s their last place of residence. But He did. Sunday morning at the beginning of our worship gathering he stood and said, “I’m ___, and I’m from Broward and I-95.”

He was referring to the intersection one block from this Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC). The intersection we’d seen him holding his sign. He’s not new to our ARC. Earlier this year he was part of the community here. He had a clean bed to sleep in, three good meals a day, purposeful activity and counseling. He could wear clean clothes every day. He was given fresh clothes, a suit and good shoes. And like so many, he left. One day, he walked out. Before that week was over I saw him at the intersection with his sign. I knew it was him before I slowed my car for the light. My heart sank. You traded clean for dirty? Food and safety for begging? Order for chaos?

That is addiction. Alcoholism. It trades truth for lies. Lies offering relief, escape, power, control. Seduction in a bottle.

He spoke the truest words today. He isn’t hiding from anyone. We know his journey and that the map he follows leads to dead ends.

photo credit: Gavin Yeatts
photo credit: Gavin Yeatts

Not coincidence Henry’s message today was about direction. We look for signs and guidance and when it’s in front of us we look the other way. We don’t want to go that way but our way. A shortcut. An easier way. This time will be different. But I am trading truth for lies, diamonds for clay.

I have believed the lie I can do it myself. I have believed I can be in control. I have believed it’s not as bad as what she did. I have settled for mediocrity when God wanted my best. Turns out my best is letting Him be in control. My best is letting Him lead my life.

For one it’s alcohol and another heroin and still, for another, it’s power. Or work, or money.

For all of us it’s grace. If we accept it. That is truth that leads to life.

 

 

5 Comments

  1. WOWZA, this is 5-Star powerful truth and grace. I too have said, “I can manage by myself, I’m tough”–and said it with Pride (yep, that’s a capital P). Add on the arrogance that I didn’t drink or do drugs, or other “Big” sins. Good grief–I’m so glad I’m learning to take His direction now! God bless you BIG, Debby! (And I’m praying for those guys–must be so heartbreaking.)

    August 26, 2013
    Reply
    • Debby said:

      So much learning, Caddo, I have far to go but I’m trying to listen. It’s all the guys still making it that keeps us going. God surrounds us with good people, encouraging souls like you 🙂

      August 26, 2013
      Reply
      • I’m curious what the ratio is–the guys still making it vs the ones who fall back. Is it more encouraging than not?

        August 26, 2013
        Reply
        • Debby said:

          It’s very hard to track because some people stay sober for years and then relapse. But, the ratio is not good. I think AA estimates 20% at the most (though they can’t have hard stats either) and ours aren’t any better. My conservative estimate would be 15%. All I can say is God enables us to focus on the positive. There are rough times but at the end of the day, we rest in His care. Prayers are always welcome! I use to read Chaz blog. He knows all about it. The good and bad parts.

          August 26, 2013
          Reply
          • Well you always have my prayers, count on that. Is Chaz still around? I love that guy–very real, doing his best–and seemingly pretty successfully. I had no idea the AA stats were so low–I just assumed it was THE program. I have a brother (estranged) who’s been an AA-man for long years with good success (last I heard). I’m certainly not in a position to make judgments, as I don’t know what it’s like to be addicted to a substance. However, I’ll be frank about my former decades of depression with multiple attempts to end my life–there are still times when the temptation to “give up” are strong, so I’m guessing that’s pretty close to relapsing with alcohol/drugs/eating disorders. As my faith grows stronger, I’m better at saying, “one bad day does not mean all the rest will be bad”. God is GOOD.

            August 26, 2013

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