Jumping Off Trains
I follow this Facebook site called The Addict’s Diary. Thank the Lord, I’ve never suffered with addiction nor does anyone in my family. But for some reason, every day I read the stories. Most are recoveries, some stories are losses.
Evident suffering always makes a person seem real to me. It’s the point where there is no hiding it. When an addict is detoxing – there’s no hiding it.
I had no experience with the detoxing process. I hadn’t even watched a documentary about it. Watching her, it was evident. Her fight was apparent.
She was real. She didn’t seem real. She looked like an actress plucked right out of a suspense thriller – with bright blue eyes, tan skin and blonde dreads. I never learned her name. I just remember thinking – she looks like a girl who would jump off a train. Not even sure what that means, except she had an edge about her. Guarded. Tough. Didn’t say much.
I’m pretty sure I looked like I jumped off a train at this point. I sure felt like it.
She stayed in her room most of the time – trying to sleep. Occasionally, she would sit outside with us. Sitting with her arms propped on her knees, she rocked. She fidgeted. She scratched her arms – the ones covered in cigarette burns and scars. She chimed in periodically, but wouldn’t make eye contact. I liked her sarcasm.
Thinking about her from time to time, I wonder if she did jump off the train. Maybe one day I will see her recovery story. I’m not sure if I would recognize her, but then again I remember faces well.
So earlier I lied. I know the reason I follow the addiction site. It’s the comments. I like a great overcomer story as much as the next guy, but what I love is the comments. There is where it lies. Compassion, encouragement and life giving words are abounding. There is communal grief and brotherly love. There is celebration in small and big victories alike. There is hope in one day at a time.
You don’t see these kind of comments on other sites. There’s the political news. I don’t have to tell you. Hate spews straight off the screen and healthy debate is no longer plausible. It’s nothing but divisive, downright ugly words being thrown around like confetti (more accurately like grenades). There’s a lot of complaining and more problems added to the rhetoric, but a major shortage of solutions.
It’s a war with words.
Honestly, the parenting articles aren’t any better. There’s stay-at-home verses working debacles, breastfeeding moms pitted against formula feeders, and then there are arguments about education. One thing is certain, you will get shamed even if you are Mary Poppins.
Especially if you are Mary Poppins.
I follow a lot of Christian sites too. I like to read others’ redemption stories and I enjoy learning about the Bible from people who understand it way better than me. The comments on these sites are by far the worst. You’d think Christians could come together. Nope.
There are daggers and arrows thrown in full force. And I’m not talking about cupid’s arrows. There is always the expert Theologian who knows the Bible better than anyone else. She will point out how you’ve interpreted a verse completely wrong.
Have you even read it in Aramaic and Greek first and considered at least five different versions before using it?
The Bible becomes a weapon and not the good kind of one.
They light the torches and come out with pitch forks discussing the role of women in the church. Just like with any other controversial topic on the internet, the well-to-do outstanding citizens tend to be really good at pointing out your wrongs. They don’t even know the person for goodness sake.
But. They end it with the praying hands emoji– attempting to remove the log from their eye. (Matthew 7:3)
Not that I’m adding to the feeling of community when I call out the grenades, I mean well-intentioned remarks. I just can’t help but notice the stark contrast in the commentary between an addiction site and a ministry one.
It’s like light from dark, but the true light seems to be tucked away in a little dark corner.
If that even makes any sense.
Maybe it’s the whole they will hate you because of me thing. Again, I am no theologian.
The comments are exhausting. Nauseating. And I’m ashamed to admit this, but sometimes very entertaining.
I can’t wait to read the comments on this very post.
I usually don’t comment. Not because I am better than anyone else. I have several splinters in my eye, so much so the right one is legally blind. I actually enjoy a healthy debate, just usually in person. Online, I’m more of a stalker observer.
When I do comment, it’s usually just a heart emoji. Sometimes I get a little wild and put three heart emoji’s. I mix it up and try different colors too!
Even those little personality smiley emoji’s can be misinterpreted, so I wimp out and walk the line.
I use the universal graphic of love, because it can be used in grieving situations, celebrations and everything in between. So yeah, I play it safe.
So why do I see so much heart in the Addiction community?
Suffering tends to bring us together. The Latin root, compati, which forms the word compassion actually means “to suffer with.” Not to get all theologian over here, but suffering is a constant throughout the Bible. In the suffering, many -- not all draw closer to God.
In my own suffering, I became closer to God.
After all, it is because of His suffering we come together as one. His sacrifice wrapped in compassion is the very reason we Believers will one day live without sorrow.
Without pain. Without tears. Without addiction.
Without addiction. Have you ever noticed how a soul that no longer feeds his addiction, always refers to himself as an addict? There is never a past tense in the introduction, even if he has been sober for years.
It’s always, Hey my name is Billy, and I am an addict.
I don’t see it as a punishment. Instead, it is a powerful reminder. Suffering exposes vulnerability. Acknowledging your weaknesses equips you better for the fight. And sobriety calls for a battle every day.
As Believers, we could learn a lesson from sobriety warriors.
Unlike addicts, our title can be stripped from us. Our journey is full of derails. So it’s important to refer to yourself in the present tense and expose your vulnerabilities.
So, repeat after me.
My name is ________ and I am a Believer. And some days, it’s a real battle. But it is Worth. The. Fight.
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? (Matthew 7:3, ESV)
You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matthew 10:22, NIV)