Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Ugly Side of Grace

I haven't written in so long that I am not sure that anyone will even read this. I have been writing a lot in my journal which I think has lead to me not blogging at all. I need to find some kind of balance between the two, or I need to learn to pick out of the journal and blog about some of it. Today, though, I need to pour out some junk. I just feel like putting on the paper is not enough.

There is a great deal of angst inside of me. This angst has been rolling around in me for months, every since I found out that my brother had relapsed. So, I have plugged Seether into my ears and I am going to type until I feel like I have let it all out. I don't know how long it will be or what all I have to say. Hopefully, there is a bigger reason for me to type this than just to purge it out.

Just a little back ground. My brother has battled a crack addiction for the last 10 years. He has had good seasons and really bad seasons. Things have gotten really dark at times and at other times things were going so good that we thought the dark seasons were over. He ended up in jail a few years back which led to a long stretch of good with a couple minor relapses. He had a really great couple of years. There were some small rough spots, but the general direction was forward and up. He had a really great job that he absolutely loved; he had unbelievable favor with the bosses. He had his own apartment and was paying his bills, saving and giving a lot. He had really built up a great library of books and bible study tools, and was studying and learning a lot. He had even began to take responsibility for a lot of past mistakes, even making amends financially to people he had stolen from. He was beginning to admit the truth about a long list of lies he had lived by. During this last year we had really began to get close and be like a brother and sister instead of enemies. I spoke to him almost daily on the phone. He was at my house weekly. We shared what we were studying and struggling with. We had really moved into having a close relationship. I wasn't distant or annoyed by him anymore.

About 2 and half months ago, things came unraveled. They started to unravel slightly, but I just kept praying for him and believed that things were going to head back in the right direction. To my horror things did not go back; they continued to unravel very quickly and deeply. I had no idea that things were going to completely come unraveled. I was totally caught off guard b/c I really thought that we had gotten far enough down the road of recovery and restoration that he wouldn't turn back. The savings went, then the job went; slowly he sold all of his belongings off; then the apartment went. He stole from my mom out of my house; he totaled his girl's car; he was held captive and beaten by drug dealers. He is now homeless and had lost everything. He is sleeping in bus stations and behind grocery stores. I even found a rehab for him, which he left after just a couple days.

I have gone through all kinds of different stages during the last couple months. At first, I was just very angry. I felt angry that he would choose this path again. I felt totally shocked; I really can't understand why he went back to that. I have been hopeful, believing that he would grab a hold of the sides of the pit and stop the descent. I have been overwhelmed with fear that he would die. I have grieved the loss of our close friendship and despaired that it would be once again close. And I have cried and cried and cried. This has hurt so much worse this time than it ever has before. In the past, I could just write him off and feel nothing toward his stupid decisions. We weren't close. Now, I cannot do that. My heart is ripped in half. Sometimes, I walk around with a lump in my throat for days and it feels like the grief and fear are going to choke me. Then someone strikes the right nerve and the tears come hard and deep and cleansing. Sometimes I feel like my guts are hanging out dragging behind me. I literally have a stomach ache b/c the grief is too much for me to take.

He showed up at my house yesterday. My first gut response was anger. I was angry that he was at my door like that and I knew that he had no where to go and would be asking for money. I also knew that I couldn't let him in b/c then he wouldn't leave and would probably steal from my mother; he always steals from her if given the chance (when he is on crack that is). I didn't speak to him or go out. I sent my husband out to deal with him. I just felt angry and couldn't go talk to him. I didn't realize until this morning that the anger was only a cover for what I was really feeling. It is how I protect myself from the torrent that is really inside of me. He ended up going to Starbucks where there are many people who know and love him. They talked to him and fed him and did what they could for him. As I pulled into my Starbucks this morning to get my coffee and saw those who had seen him the day before, the torrent was released. I had seen a glimpse of him through the slit in the blinds that I looked through to see who was at the door. I cannot get the image out of my mind. My precious D, my beloved brother, emaciated, all his belongings on his back, defeated, overwhelmed, hot, tired, feeling completely alone and hopeless. This morning, as I pulled up and saw my fellow barista and lover of D, the look on her face broke me. The grief bubbled up out of me threatening to break into a tsunami totally out of control. I choked in back, though. " I can't talk about him, right now," I said moving passed them. I walked in to see my boss, also one who loves D fiercely; the cracks in the dam holding back the flood began to leak; the tears began to spill, but with some control. Then the next face, lover of D, approached knowing the my heart was broken and threatening to give way; the sweet friend who had spent the day before at the Starbucks with D, feeding him, trying to reason with him. As she hugged me, the dam broke; I gave way to the sobs and lost control. My heart split open lying on the floor for all to see. We had to walk out of the store b/c the dam had given way and control was no longer possible.

I feel so sad and so confused. Why go back? Why won't you do something, Lord? I know what you did for me. I didn't want to quit drinking. I told you that you were going to have to change my heart and make me want to stop- that I would keep drinking until you took it away. And then one day, you took it. One day, you made me want to be free and I took you hand; you have led me down this path of sobriety from alcohol for the last 2 years. You have kept me from falling when I was tempted and given me the desire to let you change my heart. It has nothing to do with me. You did that for me, Lord. Why won't you do that for D? Why won't you take it away and make him want you more than he wants the crack. When will it end? Surely, you won't let him die this way. I have cried and prayed and cried some more.

I know you are good, Lord. I know you love him immeasurable more than I could ever love him. I know that you are in control of the universe and that you have a plan. I know that none of this is a surprise to you.

Grace looks so pretty in my life. It is an easy thing for me to hold to your sovereignty and delight in your grace. Trusting you is easy for me, b/c my life has been far more blessed than I ever imagined it could be. You have poured grace upon grace upon grace in my life. I have not suffered loss. My children are healthy and well adjusted. My husband adores me and provides for me. My house has electricity and running water. We have two cars and far more food than we can eat in our house. Grace is easy for me. Being thankful is easy for me. But what about grace in the lives of others? What about mothers who have to bury their children or care for desperately ill ones? What about the widows who don't have food to eat? What about D? I don't like the way grace is packaged for him. I don't see beautiful grace in his life. I see devastation and suffering. I see a hurt, hopeless little boy who grew up without a dad and just wants someone to show him how to be a man, to hug him and tell him that he is loved and that they believe in him. Forgive me, Lord; I don't see it. I don't like it. I am eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, labeling things with no true knowledge of the whole picture. I know that I see such a limited view and you see the whole thing beginning to end. I want to stand in the place of creator and judge deciding what is grace and what is not grace.

Kisses from Katie says it so much better, this idea of eating from the tree. Read about it here.

I have grieved and struggled and all I know to do is to keep preaching the gospel truth to my self. We serve a loving God who knows all and can only give grace to us. We don't always like the package that grace comes in, but it is always a gift from God and it is good. He loves D and knew this was coming; it did not catch him by surprise. He knows how this all ends as well.

He used Elizabeth Elliot to say to me, "When it's finished, you'll see." We can't see the whole picture so we don't understand, but when it's finished, we will see.

I was singing in church this morning, "Savior, He can move the mountains, our God is mighty to save, mighty to save. Forever, author of salvation, He rose and conquered the grave, Jesus conquered the grave." As I sang, I heard Him, gently say to me, "I am writing his story. I am still writing his story." So no matter how the grace is packaged and no matter how much I dislike what it looks like. It is not my story to write. I am not writing this story. God is writing D's story. God is writing the story of Jesus in D.

And somehow, in His amazing faithfulness and providence, God is sanctifying me and changing me to make me more like Jesus through D's struggle and my struggle to walk through it. My loving Father is writing my story and D's story and weaving it together into a beautiful tapestry of grace. I can't see it with my eyes, but I choose to see it with my faith. The grief and pain are signs that He is healing me and causing me to be able to feel. The pain is a sign of life and growth and love. Being open to love means being open to pain and somehow that is also beautiful and it is grace.

July 18th, 2011

A little addition thanks to my great friend Sean who encouraged me by pointing out grace in my brother's life right now via text message.

"Grace is that, unlike several other addicts, he falls in direct sight of a Christian community that loves him. Grace is that he knows people that pray for him. Grace is that he is alive."

What comfort from a brother in Christ. It was just what I needed. Straight from the mouth of God to my ear through the mouth of a beloved brother- answer to the questions I prayed aloud in my blog.

Update : Dec 26th. God has moved in D's life. He has 4 months sober, a job, and lives at the 24 hour AA club downtown. He is on the mend, moving forward, pressing into God. He spent the first overnight at our house since the unraveling on Christmas Eve. Our relationship is on the mend. God is healing and showing us how His grace was and is woven into the whole situation.


  1. I am moved by this. both by the hardship, and mainly by the love. love is hard. In every form. not loving is easier. To read you wrestling to love well instead of love easy is inspiring. hold on to him. grace is not grace if it isn't needed.

  2. wow, praise God! Thank you for sharing this, I pray the Lord will use it in other people's lives who may be walking this same path! We have been able to witness recovery this past year in one of our close friends and it s a very beautiful thing!

  3. I just read this again with tears in my eyes. Dawn,you express this so beautifully. This last year was really a rough one but I would walk through the rough just to have the blessing of seeing God work in my family the way He has. To spend Christmas eve and Christmas with my family and no harsh words. Just laughing and joy. What miracles God has wrought in my life. I am truly a blessed woman.

  4. Quite possibly the most moving and raw blog entries I have ever read. . . ever. I am praying for your brother and I will probably never stop so long as I live.

  5. I, too, found you blog moving. However, I have another side if this story. His addiction has affected my granddaughter is many profound ways. I don't know if you know all of the circumstances, but you might ask him. My husband and I pray that some day she may have a normal life--which would not include enabling his addictions.

    1. I don't know if you will come back and read this reply; I hope you do. I do know all the circumstances. I know how hard is has been on her and your family. I cannot imagine!! I have said that if Alicia was my Ally, D would have disappeared and I would have repented later. (Thankfully, God has more grace for each of us than, we have for ourselves or others). I have prayed for years for them and this relationship. I have prayed for God to move and set them free from the toxicity. There have probably been few days since him and Alicia first met that I have have not prayed for both of them. I pray for God's will to be done and for His beautiful redemption to be revealed. I don't know what God's plans are; I have begged Him to help Alicia to just walk away. I have begged Alicia to just walk away. Things are what they are; I don't know what is going to happen. But I know the one who does know and I speak to Him daily about this situation. I know He uses pain and suffering to make us more like Him and that He knew every detail of both of their lives before they began and knows how to make it all beautiful in His time. I know that none of this has ever surprised Him or caused Him to despair even as it caused us to despair. I am sorry for the pain you have had to watch them endure. I pray for deeper measures of His grace b/c that is all we need for everything.