I knew the topic of the sermon before I entered church, “Finding Hope in Addiction”, yet I wasn’t prepared to be preached with. I have listened to sermons for too many years about how to bring up children in the faith, how we need to set the right example, make them come to church even when they don’t want to. Sermons that led me to ask the pastor afterward, but what about us? With gentle eyes and a quiet recognition, we would hear that yes, we have done all we could. Still, we sat in the chairs and listened and felt judged as the message out loud was that we must have done something wrong. Our son’s struggles with addiction, our frequent trips to rehab and ultimately his arrest and incarceration meant we were different. We continued to share during prayers and concerns and many members prayed faithfully for years alongside us. They celebrated our joys in his recovery. They ask about him. They care genuinely. Then yesterday happened.
By focusing solely on addiction and our roles as believers, Pastor Chris blazed new territory in our congregation. He spoke so directly to my heart, I couldn’t stop the tears. As my little Plum lay between us, hubby and I clasped hands, soaking up his words. As he challenged the congregation to see the addicted differently, to no longer judge the families, I looked down at this sweet child between us. This child born to two using parents, who has been through more trauma and turmoil than most of the congregation put together, this sweet child who loves and laughs and brings such joy. This child who spends most of his time with his grandparents and always has, to escape the challenges of young parents trying to grow up and establish their lives. I looked at my husband, exhausted after only 2 days back at work, the rest from a vacation erased by the late-in-life parenting that we are doing and the worry we carry at all times about our son. Pastor Chris talked about the brain chemistry, about the hostage -taking, the thought process of the addicted. He discussed the pain and isolation of the families of addicted. Then he went further to share what we as the body of Christ can do. It was beauty. It was soul-embracing. It was real understanding of us. Our life, our struggles.
Maybe this week , many people couldn’t relate so well to the sermon but all were included. All were reminded that as believers, they can pray into our chaos with earnest. They can stay alongside us in this long journey. And they can leave the judgement behind.