Monday, January 17, 2011
Aren't We All "The Least of These?"
Recently, I went to visit my Dad's last surviving sibling, my uncle. He is 92 years old. He has memories that I wanted to learn before the opportunity is lost. It is so interesting to visit an uncle or aunt after your parents have passed. You see them and while they may be very different, there are those family similarities that you might have forgotten about. A certain look, mannerism or the voice that sounds so familiar. It is like seeing a little piece of your parents. It is a reminder from heaven.
I wanted to learn more about my grandfather, Henry. I wanted to get a picture of the kind of man he was. I wanted to understand how his addiction played out, day in and day out. Lately, I've been hooked on "Celebrity Rehab" and "Intervention". My family was initially very uncomfortable with my obsession over these shows. But for me, it is a study. My mother's passing made me keenly curious about death and heaven. Now that is a difficult subject for study. No one who has ever had the experience of dying has been able to come back and tell us about it. As for heaven, I have always thought that if we really knew about it, no one would ever want to live.
I visited my uncle who was thrilled to have the company. He was so happy to tell stories. But, every time that I asked questions about Henry, he seemed to go off subject. I am sure that it was difficult. I also think that during the time of his youth, they chose not to talk about that subject. But, I did learn a few things. For one thing, the face of addiction remains the same regardless of the cause of addiction. It is selfish and fights to support itself above all else. It still tears families apart and shortens the addicts life span. It makes the addict look like a monster.
I love "Celebrity Rehab". At first, I thought that these were selfish, soulless people. I thought that there was little hope for these folks. I thought that many of them were only seeking attention by being on this show. I thought the show was just another ridiculous "reality" show. But, what I like most is how Dr. Drew explains these awful behaviors. I like how he is able to peel back layer after layer until by the end, you see this wounded soul. Initially, I was rooting for a select few to make it. Now, the ones that I liked the least are the ones that I am pulling for most. These are the most wounded folks who sought to find relief from their pain in perhaps the only way that they knew how.
God creates us each and everyone with unique gifts and talents. When we are little, we are unafraid of expressing our hopes and desires. We boldly state that we want to be a great artist or astronaut. As we get older and our sinful world starts to give us a very skewed perspective of what we can do or what we should do, we stop listening to the longing of our hearts. We start turning down the volume of the voice of God. We start thinking that we are the only ones in control. We start relying on only ourselves. We will never be happy this way. We will search high and low to fill the void. We may try to use food or drink. We may use drugs. We may spend too much money. We may try to have a lot of possessions. We may try to be the smartest. But, until we strip all of that away and get to know the person that God created us to be and lean on him and his understanding, we are as lost as the addict is. And, most of us can't even see that. Most of us (including me) sat in judgement of the folks like my son.
Al Anon has taught me so much. It teaches me first and foremost, that I am not in control. That took some time to accept. But, once I did, it is such a relief. Then it taught me to take care of myself. It taught me to allow God's will in my life. It taught me to take a moral inventory of myself. It taught me to make amends for the things that I can change. It taught me to realize that God is the only one who could restore sanity in my life. This is a very simplified version of some of the twelve steps. The person responsible for these steps was an alcoholic who professed no religion. I find that fact so fascinating. I have learned more about living my faith from an alcoholic than from any lesson in church. Now, that is not to say that I haven't learned a lot in church, because I have. But, before we judge people, before we dismiss them because of a weakness that they have you'd better look a little deeper.
Jesus didn't really hang out with the popular guys. He didn't smooze with the really rich or famous. He didn't only associate with the incredibly holy folks. So, if we are to emulate his life, why do we avoid "the least of these" so much? Why do we always assume that they don't have the capacity for change? Why do we think we're better than them? I daresay that an alcoholic from Akron Ohio helped more people than I ever will. Bill W. (the alcoholic from Akron and founder of AA) got a vision one night. It was a vision on how to help fellow alcoholics. I think it was the voice of God. He listened. He didn't look at the fact that he was a floundering alcoholic. He didn't think of how little medical or psychological knowledge he might have. He didn't worry about all of the details he'd have to work out to carry this message to those most in need of his message.
Today, my prayer is that my son and all of you will start to discover who God created in YOU. I pray for the healing of souls. I pray that my son will discover the healing power of God. I pray for those souls who died without the benefit of recovery, most especially the soul of Henry.
Posted by Hattie Heaton at 11:22 AM