Chapter 37: Overcoming & Peace

“There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer; no disease that enough love will not heal; no door that enough love will not open; no gulf that enough love will not bridge; no wall that enough love will not throw down; no sin that enough love will not redeem… It makes no difference how deeply seated the trouble may be; how hopeless the outlook; how muddled the tangle; how great the mistake. A sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all…If only you could love enough, you would be the happiest and most powerful being in the world.” (Emmet Fox)

“Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (I John 4:4)

I have been a believer almost every hour of my life. My favorite game as a child was to turn the white vinyl footstool on end and use it as my pulpit. I would pull all the dining room chairs around so they faced my pulpit, and seat my dolls and stuffed animals in them. I preached to my captive audience, served them communion and prayed. When I got a little older than two or three, I found it delighted my grandparents to attend “Judi’s church.” I also learned then how to pass the offering plate. Smile. They were what the good book calls “cheerful givers.”

It has been many years since I was baptized by my father (I was nine, and it was Easter Sunday night). I was on fire for God as a junior high school student. And you know the rest of the Mary Poppins story. I know beyond doubt that I have been snatched from the jaws of death many times. I love God and adore His Son, but would still not call myself one of the “crazed-again” Christians. I am human. I still stumble. I still question. I still cry out to God (mostly in the car or in the shower, when I feel most alone) and ask WHY? “Why must I carry these ugly, hideous scars? Who is ever going to love me again or find me attractive? Am I supposed to live all alone my whole life (after Olivia leaves home, which is happening much faster than I ever dreamed it would)? Why didn’t you just take me home all of the thousands, or at least hundreds of times I could not breathe, or my heart pounded above 220 times per minute? Why did I have to be a drug addict? I would much rather be a politician. (But I inhaled.) Will I ever be able to work again? Will anyone ever invite me to speak to teenagers again? Am I here on earth simply to help others die? I know you gave me a reason to live, but remind me again what it is!”

Quietly, over the months and years, I got my answer. I have so often described myself as The Lone Ranger. I even have his watch. I’ve also called myself “the woman at the well.” Too long I have felt alone, and this is true only because I isolated myself from people and from the flow and dignity of life. I have tripped too often on this particular stone (no pun intended, honestly) and I am sick to death of it. I may trip on others and certainly will stumble; but never again will I fall into addiction. This I have FINALLY overcome.

I may still be the woman at the well, but today I drink from those waters in the company of millions of others who have recovered from this deadly, evil disease. Today I am one among many standing at the well. Today I have company.

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends….” (John, ch. 15: 13-14) I always thought I’d have to give a kidney, or be Sidney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities to display this great a love to others. Today I don’t have the life I always thought I would have. I have set aside that dream, that wrong direction and having survived the war, let God lead me to share myself HONESTLY with others. Now I understand that for me, laying aside my Mary Poppins costume and face and being real is the greater love. Today I pray that young people will NOT emulate me; but rather, will be saved from pain and degradation because I told them the truth about drug addiction. It is a far more powerful message than Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No.” I’m sorry if that offends anyone. But the people who “just say no” have clearly never tried drugs. They simply don’t know what they’re talking about. Teenagers know this, they have an uncanny ability to sniff out deception. When I am privileged to share my story with them, they listen and sometimes cry and always ask me a boatload of tough questions. I answer them honestly. It is not easy. That is, for me, greater love.

Today I try to be a blessing to others. Some days that is a much tougher goal than others. Like you, I’m sure, I have days when I am absolutely inspired to simply give what I can, be it hope to a weary sales clerk, or a sandwich to a hot, skinny person standing with a hand-lettered sign on a corner in my city, or a few dollars to one of my sisters who has multiple children and massive grocery bills. I was recently able to send a check to one sister and leave some cash beneath the pillow of another. Of course, they both wrote and thanked me generously. That is not the point. The point is to give because Olivia and I have received so much we just HAVE to give back. God is kind to us, especially when I am notably kind to others in a quiet way.

Today, I am healed. I am delivered. I have experienced the unmerited favor of God in the form of Grace. My family has forgiven me and begun slowly to trust in me again. Olivia no longer wishes she slept somewhere else, and sometimes wants to sleep with me not because she’s afraid I’ll die in the night, but because she is a little girl and she wants to be near her mama. Today I find joy in that and allow her to do so, though I know I’ll be kicked several times and rolled into and be without covers much of the night.

I am certainly not perfect. I still take the hamster turds of life and turn them into mountains of elephant dung. I rarely flow with too much traffic. But today I am more inclined to be patient with myself and that makes me kinder to others. I count to ten before raising my voice to Olivia. Sometimes I have to count to ten times ten. But living with a drug-free mom with foibles is certainly better than living with a drug addicted mom who notices almost nothing.

I have dwelt too long in darkness; today I walk in the light. I am safe. I am loved. I am a child of God. I am healthy and living my life, not hastening its end. Through the love and power of a God I cannot yet understand, I was and am saved. Today I have hope. I pray that as you read this testimony, you feel the power of hope return to your life, no matter what or who around you is caught up in addiction and destruction and death. No matter how hopeless you feel, may you reach up from your own unique pain and take the hand of the only true source of strength and power and love, and may you run and jump into His mighty arms and remain there forever, close to me.

Back in Samaria: “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit; and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. The woman said to Him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am He…’ So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city, and said to the men, ‘Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?’ (John 4:23-29) There she was, a woman, a sinner, not born into wealth or position or prominence, and she went on to be one of the great champions of the Savior. He touched her life and made her whole. I know this to be true; He also touched mine.