I stopped by a table outside our local Hy-vee grocery store on Saturday. I don’t normally stop at tables, but I had a sense that the three men who manned the table had a story to tell. They looked to me to be anywhere between 20-40 years old, and their speech polite as they told me why they were there selling t-shirts, bracelets, and woodwork in addition to handing out pamphlets. What they didn’t know was how closely I could relate to the power and devastation that addiction to drugs and alcohol brings, not only to those addicted, but to the family and friends of an addict.
I grew up in an alcoholic family, my father addicted to alcohol. Pictures from my childhood most often depicted my dad holding a can of Grain Belt beer in his hand. To this day, the smell of beer takes me to a place I’d rather not revisit. My dad tried to overcome his addiction, but he died of cirrhosis of the liver. I will never forget my mom waking me in the middle of the night to tell me that my dad had died, that he did not make it through surgery. I was just 12 years old, but the effects of alcoholism and the resulting dysfunction didn’t die when he did.
Praise God, however, that I found ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) and counseling while in college. Many years of therapy and countless meetings brought healing and validation to the trauma I had experienced. But true healing, lasting, life-changing healing didn’t happen until I met Jesus Christ. That’s when my life really changed, when I finally had a perfect Father, God. The more I came to know God through His word, the more I understood what love really was, what forgiveness and freedom truly were.
The men at the table in front of Hy-vee told me about LifeChangers Outreach, a 12 month faith-based residential facility for those who struggle with addiction. It’s a new resource I hadn’t heard of before. I shared with them that I currently have a loved one living as an active addict and that it’s been many years, years filled with hope and disappointment as my loved one would seek help and live “clean,” only to turn back to using. I know the powerless feeling of watching a loved one self-destruct, of seeing drugs and alcohol take away their health and well-being, turning them into a mere shadow of who they were before addiction stole their mind and body. I pray daily for them. I pray that addiction will not be the end of their story. I pray that recovery will win, that the truths of God’s word and His presence would sink deep in their heart and that freedom from addiction would result. I can’t change my loved one’s addiction, but I can share resources. I can share hope. I can love like Jesus. I pray this resource helps whoever needs it.