Ever read something online/social media that leaves you incensed? Of course you have…opinions and thoughts are everywhere today and inevitably you’re going to disagree with someone. But what’s also rampant are those that sit behind the keyboard and spew…yes, spew…their opinions, insults, insinuations, judgements, and ugliness as fact.
This post showed up on my Facebook feed this week…
DRUG addiction is a choice. It is not a disease. Before you stuck that needle in your arm or popped those pills in your mouth you did not have an addiction. You created a habit that became habitual and now you’re dependent on the drugs. Addiction is a choice, allowing addicts to believe it’s a disease only enables them and gives them an excuse to feel sorry for themselves and continue doing what they’re doing. You don’t have a disease, you have a weak mind. You have no self control, all you have is your drugs. I don’t feel the least bit sorry for any of you. Tough love is going to make America great again.
Where do I even begin?
To be completely honest, when I first read the post, a wave of shame came over me. Yes, of course, THERE IS something fundamentally wrong with me. Why do I make, have I made, choices that are harmful? And why did I procreate and raise children to face and fail at the same choices? Why did I even get out of bed today and show my face to the world? Shame on me. Shame on my choices. Shame, shame, shame.
Then I got angry – as one commenter of the post put it so well “would it be inappropriate to tell them to f&*k off?” – unless you have walked in my shoes, you have NO IDEA of the reality of my life. And you know what…I don’t need your pity nor your brand of tough love.
I’m not science minded enough to get in a conversation about whether drug addiction is a disease. I was also inclined to just let this go and chalk it up to ignorance and bias…but really, the more I think about it, the conversation is so much bigger than drug addiction…so here we are in a conversation about choices, generational consequences, spiritual health, and the love of humanity.
Yes, we all have choices. And yes, of course, some choices are worse than others. But when was the last time you made a bad choice? Probably within the last 24 hours. And the thing about choices is that they tend to build on themselves – one bad choice leads to another leads to another and then before you know it, you are in a hole. Y’all – this has been going on since the beginning of humanity…
For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 1 Corinthians 10:23
We all love our “ability to choose” but not all choices are beneficial. We all suffer from self-centeredness, the desire for instant gratification, the resistance to the uncomfortable, the need for self worth.
Look around – the mounting debt, the growing obesity, the opioid crises, divorce rates – or even in your own little circle – people are suffering all around us – and if you look close enough you will see how their life choices have a played a part in their trouble today.
But maybe you don’t…there are those of us that have gotten away with some of our bad choices…
I’ve used drugs – I’ve drunk myself into oblivion
I’ve had unprotected sex
I’ve driven under the influence
I’ve texted while driving
I’ve walked to my car in an unsafe neighborhood, at night
I’ve stolen, lied, cheated
I’ve had horrible, terrible, uncharitable thoughts towards all y’all
I speed on a regular basis – and I’m a very self-centered driver – all about me
I’ve eaten many a whole pint of ice cream
I’ve spent money on credit cards that I didn’t have in the bank to pay back
And I could go on and on…
Choices have consequences we cannot foretell or judge; the choices we make within this hour may have unforeseen dire consequences even after we have ceased to be…or no visible consequence at all.
I’ve only paid a fraction of the consequences for my many life choices…some of the payment has lasted my lifetime – others were less painful – but I can promise you, overall, there has been minimal payment and I am in no position to judge you.
What I can also tell you is that God can take the good, the bad, and the ugly and turn them into something wonderful and beautiful. I don’t know a single human being that has made only good choices. Most humans have a level of brokenness – turning to God and allowing him to take my brokenness and use it to reach others has been the greatest honor of my life.
More than eight million children have at least one parent who is addicted to alcohol or drugs. This number includes 14% of children younger than two, 12% aged six to 11 years old, and 10% of youth between the ages of 12 and 17. That number makes up 12 percent of children in this country. (HHS, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA], Office of Applied Studies, 2009).
I had two. One could argue that genetics played a part in my own wandering but I’m not here to argue.
I will implore that we cannot deny that the families we are born into play a part in our own journey. The town, the country, the economics, the mental health of our caregivers, the generations before us…they all play a part.
Can we use that as an excuse? Sure we can. Might not get us very far but many of us do. The point is that we are not all born on a level playing field. “Life is unfair” to you and me living here in the states has a much different meaning for a mom living in war torn Syria.
We have a tendency to look at people through our own lenses, experiences, thoughts, beliefs…rather than looking at them through their journey and where they come from.
What is a malady? A disease or ailment.
A spiritual malady can be defined as a hole in the soul…a lack of wholeness, uncomfortable in your own skin… A hole, that as egotistical, self-seeking humans, we seek to fill with what the world offers rather than realizing it can only be filled by the Spirit.
Some of us are born with gaping holes while others not so much. Some fill the hole of the soul with drugs/alcohol…others with food, shopping, sex, work, religion.
Not one of us is immune to this – but it is a spectrum. There are those of us that are functional OCD – my spaces are orderly and aligned but while it might bother me, I can usually let something out of order slide. But there are those of you that don’t even see the out of order and then there are those that have to take medication to function in this disorderly world. It’s a spectrum.
Until you address your spiritual well being, the hole in your spirit, you will seek and choose choices that are less than beneficial. But rather than assume people know how/where to address their spirituality – be the light they seek.
Love of Humanity:
I would not be sober today if not for the men and women who have gone before me and walked with me during my early recovery. I would not be writing this entry from a fairly stable frame of mind if not for the other parents that continue to walk with me as I parent/walk with my own children. I would not know God as I do without the friends, family, leaders, writers, bloggers and other brave people that have lit the path. I have been blessed with love.
When we point and judge, we diminish other HUMAN beings – AND ourselves. Life is not a simple black and white equation. It is made up of thousands and thousands of thoughts and choices…the good, the bad, and the ugly.
And what if…what if…as a matter of general principle, we make a habit of extending a graciousness, a love that assumes people are doing the best that they can with the skills that they have? Because I can assure you, most people, most days, wake up with the intention of good choices.
So where do we go from here?
There are those that will go to the extreme after reading this entry. Do we love and give a pass to the crazy psychotic killers of children that may or may not have had a schizophrenic parent or two. Take a deep breath and know that’s not what I’m talking about.
What I do want to do is to encourage all of us to take the angry finger pointing judgement out of our interactions with each other. Rather than write people off as weak-minded losers, judging though my human lenses, I want us to see them as God does – through his lens – through his love.
I want to be the light and never ever forget “but for the grace of God there I go”
Blessings and love – DM