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This past fall I woke up to a message on my phone with a picture of a beautiful baby boy who had just been born into our family. The text was from one of my family members whose daughter had just given birth to this precious child. But what I wasn’t prepared for was the text that followed:
“Please keep her and her son in your prayers; she is being arrested because they found heroin in the baby’s system and her baby boy is being placed in protected custody. In the meantime he will be kept in the hospital to wean him off of the drug.”
I know this is a pretty heavy story to share but this is the kind of stuff I grew up with all my life and I still hear small glimpses of these types of stories from my family and many other families.
Please take notice that I said “small glimpses;” I have to be very careful of what I allow into my life or what I am willing to listen to. I can’t control everything I hear but I know from experience the repercussions of being absorbed into the family’s dysfunction from addiction: reliving the trauma and wounds to the degree that would prevent me from moving forward. And I desperately want to move forward.
I grew up in abuse and neglect, surrounded by addiction from the time I was born. With a father who was incarcerated and a mother absent because of addiction, I wasn’t even aware that my needs weren’t being met. It was just the way things were.
I ended up pregnant at fifteen years old and initiated into a Hispanic gang because I longed to be accepted into a family. School was a struggle; I was placed in special education classes and various behavioral programs until I was kicked out of school and sent to an alternative education program.
As an adult woman these things still plagued me as I tried to get a job and found myself reading at a third grade level. I was addicted to cutting myself to relieve the pain and confusion that was in my body and I was very sick from my eating disorder.
At one point I felt so alone and isolated I tried to take my life. A friend told me about Jesus and this gave me hope that someone might really love me. She told me that God had a purpose and plan for my life. Even then, it took years for me to receive the deep healing I needed.
What I’ve Learned
When you have a loved one who wrestles with an addiction you tend to feel like you need to fix it. Or if you are at all like me, you may have an underlying anxiousness that you’re not even aware of every time your phone rings or you receive a text message, hoping it’s not a call on the other end with the news that something devastating has happened to your loved one.
I’ve lived with this kind of fear for a very long time due to being raised in addiction. And now I’m watching the generational patterns run through the veins of my siblings, our children and myself.
I know that we all have different stories and circumstances but I would like to share what I’ve been learning over the last twenty years.
I’ve had to learn to trust God with the people in my life who struggle with addiction, even in the hard times when I think I should be doing something to help, even when things don’t make sense. I believe God wants to take all of us to a deeper level of trusting Him, not just for ourselves but also those we care about. We are called as believers to lean not on our own understanding but in ALL our ways acknowledge Him.Here's the thing about addiction... it doesn't make sense and it will never make sense. It's not your job to fix it, control it, cure it or make your loved one stop using. Click To Tweet
Here’s the thing about addiction… it doesn’t make sense and it will never make sense, so don’t drive yourself crazy trying to figure out why your loved one keeps going back, even after all the overdoses or times in jail. It’s not your job to try to figure it out, nor do you have the power to control it, cure it or make your loved one stop using. I understand everything that research says about the neuron pathways, chemical dependency and using a substance to numb your pain, but even with all this noise, put your little investigator brain away and quit trying to figure out the WHY.
What SHOULD I do?
So Paula, are you telling me to give up? Just let my loved one die?
I get all the questions that go through your mind. I asked myself these same questions, too. But I believe God wants us to get to a place of true surrender, to know that He has our loved one’s life in the palm of His hands. All of it… the good, the bad and the ugly.
I could go on and on and share so many stories about how addiction has affected my life—the incarceration, suicide, overdoses and homelessness, and much more, but instead I want to spend this time helping you understand there is really nothing you can do until your loved one is ready to get the help they need.
It’s time for you to rest. Rest in Him. God. The creator of the heaven and earth, who loves your loved one more than you do.
This is not your weight to carry
Addiction is no respecter of person. It doesn’t care what type of background you have, what degree you carry, or if you had praying parents. It affects so many people today in so many ways. Addiction comes to kill, steal and destroy and it will never make sense.
Even so, God wants you to have perfect peace in the midst of your loved ones battle. He wants you to know and feel His love as you place them in the palm of His hand.
How to keep yourself in perfect peace
Here are 3 simple steps to help you find the rest and peace you long for:
- Set Boundaries – What is a boundary and why do we put them in place? A boundary is not a wall, it’s something we set up to keep things out of our life that don’t line up with our values. It may take time to figure out what your boundaries are as you slip back and forth. Be patient with yourself as you learn how to put these new boundaries in place. A boundary doesn’t mean you don’t love the person who is struggling. It is just a tool to protect your heart from getting weary.
- Pray– Prayer is a powerful tool that God has given to use. It helps us to release our loved one and their decisions into the care of God’s hands. If you are not sure what to pray, look up prayers on the internet in regards to addiction and protection for your loved one. Ask God for a verse that you could personalize and pray.
- Surrender– What does surrender really mean? It’s getting to a place of fully believing that God is who He says He is and understanding that He loves your loved one more than you do and knows what’s best for them.
Scriptures to help you on this journey:
- Proverbs 3:5-7 Ask God what you should do
- Jeremiah 17: 5-8 Put your hope in God
- 2 Timothy 1:7 Fear is not of God. He wants us to live with peace.
I wish I could tie up this post with a pretty bow and tell you everything is going to work out the way you’re hoping it will. It’s lonely, I know, but if you look closely, you’ll find traces of His fingerprints in the midst of the mess. He’s there and He’s good.
Paula Jauch is a motivational speaker and writer dedicated to helping others break free from life-controlling situations such as, eating disorders, self-harm, self-hate, drug and alcohol addictions, unplanned pregnancy, depression, anxiety, and sexual abuse. She loves encouraging her audience to live a life of freedom in Christ. She is in the process of writing her first book about her own healing and recovery process to offer hope to the hurting.
Paula speaks and shares her story with women’s groups, medical professionals, pastoral staff, counselors, Teen Mops, Mops, Crisis Pregnancy Center, Juvenile Detention Centers, at-risk schools, and recovery programs.
She enjoys being active, spending time with her family, and traveling. She is a happily married mother of four and a proud Nana. Paula currently lives in West Michigan.
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