A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
Being a recovery mentor is not easy. Being in recovery is not easy. I suspect even if we had a perfect childhood, good careers, the perfect spouse, children and house and a great education… life would still not be easy.
To be mature is to accept the realities of life and fight back against the broken things of this world and press into bringing heaven to earth in some manner each day. Escaping through drugs, alcohol or lust or becoming an adrenalin junky just looking for his next play date is not maturity – it is perpetual childhood.
Each day we are given the opportunity to leave this world in a better state than it was when we woke up.
Whether it be tending to a garden, working on redeeming a failed social condition, to win the respect of your trusted peers, to bring a smile to someone who had none, to physically, emotionally or spiritually lift someone up who desperately needs to know somebody cares.
These are all good things, and yet sometimes they still aren’t enough. A person’s hurts can go so deep or the damage they have done to themselves physically or the choices they have made have come with such consequences that their suffering must continue.
And sometimes, their physical ailment can be so significant that their body gives out or thier emotional pain run so deep that they give up and take their own life. Either way, no matter how much we pray or attempt to come alongside, we seemingly lose them to whatever path they were on.
I didn’t sleep much last night, I got the news that my neighbor Clarke, who has been in an ugly relapse, was found dead in his bed yesterday. I didn’t know him well, but we had been close for the last couple weeks.
I had seen him around since he moved in several months ago but only in passing until one night he came to my door asking if I would go to the store to by him some alcohol because he was too weak to drive.
I just happened to be off of work so instead I put him on my couch and settled in to help him detox. I quickly realized he was much sicker than I thought and I took him to ER at 3am. The doctors said he would have been dead in a few days had I not have brought him in. Internal bleeding and infections, kidney and liver failure, severe dehydration, malnutrition and a host of other conditions.
He would be in the hospital for nearly a week but when insurance and other factors came against him he was released and sent home. I met with him several times and we worked out a recovery plan that he “sounded” like he wanted to pursue, but again I realized he was not willing to go to meetings, go to his doctor, or keep appointments with social workers.
So after 2 weeks of him trying to do life his way something in him gave out. He was found peacefully lying on his bed with his hands folded across his body. No note, no alcohol remnance, the house was clean and neat. We don’t know yet what took him, but he is gone.
So as someone who works with people in recovery the hardest question is always “did I love him enough”; did I love him the right way”; “did I really love him at all?”
Some have said that I did what I could for him and that I went way above and beyond what anyone would expect of another person in that situation; that I carried a burden that was not mine to carry. But honesty I question, did I do enough?
When he got out of the hostpital and I realized he was not taking any positive actions towards his own recovery I pulled back. I wasn’t going to chase him down and force-feed recovery on him… but I could have.
For those of us in recovery, we must never forget that we are in a daily life-and-death struggle; our disease is progressive and Satan wants to take us out with it. We must always be working the program and stay close to elders, peers and those we can help both in the church and recovery circles.
I’m so grateful that God’s ways are not mine and we are not meant to understand the how and why of everything He does. I don’t know if I was aligned with God’s will for Clarke or simply delayed God’s plan to bring him home, but I trust God’s hand was in this and prayerfully Clarke’s life had impact and meaning.
37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
So the question becomes, how can we have kingdom impact on the life of another today?
Love is sacrificial, who am I willing to sacrifice for today?
Father God, I pray that Clarke is in your presence and his suffering in this life has been redeemed. I also pray for my own soul and for those brothers and sisters who are working throughout the world to impact the lives of another… that they may be protected from the voice of the enemy that says they should be doing more. And for those Lord who aren’t using their talents, time and treasure for whatever calling You have placed on them, may they feel the sting of conviction that this life is not about us. Love is sacrificial, it is not about what we can get; it is about what we can give. Forgive me Father for the selfishness that draws the line and says “that’s too messy” and then turn a hardened heart to the plight of another. Show us this day Lord how our lives are to be a pleasing sacrifice for Your glory.