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Loving with Open Hands . . .

I dropped a beautiful woman off at detox the other day.

She called me in the evening wanting help. She knows that there is more to life than what’s been happening in hers. I immediately reached out to one of Beneath the Shade’s board members. My board member was able to get ahold of a colleague at a facility that could handle the specific type of detox my friend needed even though it was late in the day. She had a bed booked within a couple hours for drop off the next day.

I picked my friend up just after lunch. She had enough energy even in her fragile state to give me a hard time when she saw me and joked a little bit on the drive.

My friend is smart; she is funny as all get out; she is such a creative thinker. When she asked me how things were going for Beneath the Shade, I started talking about something I needed a solution for and she immediately started spitting out [even in her suffering] some amazing ideas.

She is a spectacular human being!

After we got on the road she curled up with a blanket she had brought with her and reached over to grab a handful of my tank top as she quietly shook and cried. Going through detox can be a horrible experience. She felt terrible AND she knew what waited ahead for her.

She wasn’t just experiencing the physical effects of the drugs in her system, she was (and is) also scared of the unknown. The pain of our present is at least something we know. It can be so very frightening to let go of the horror story we are living for something new -- even if everyone tells us “that something new” will be GOOD.

Those of us on the other side of the chasm know there is hope, there’s growth, there is beauty. Of course, those things come with a lot of work and we experience pain on that journey, but we can see the good.

She can’t. Not right now.

That’s what community is for. To be a light for each other when all other lights have gone out.

I felt like I was on holy ground as I drove that hour to our destination. I felt like I was on holy ground because God suffers WITH US. That is the story of Jesus coming to earth as a baby, as a human, and going to the cross on our behalf—he chose to enter IN to our mess. He was in my car on that drive, in the things that make my life messy and in the things that make her life messy.

The women I know who are in recovery or who are fighting a battle against addiction (even if they’re still in it) are some of the bravest people I know. Addiction destroys pretty much everything as it progresses in someone’s life. Inside spaces— physiological, emotional, mental and outside spaces—relationships, job, community, family. It takes such courage to even consider walking a different path.

I can only love her. Her path after detox is up to her . . .

This is hard. Loving with open hands. The most miraculous thing is that God models this for us. Offering us help over and over and over again, picking us up, watching us run from him, and still pursuing and waiting with incredible love.

“Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to the place where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, and broken. But this is not our spontaneous response to suffering. What we desire most is to do away with suffering by fleeing from it or finding a quick cure for it. As busy, active, relevant [people], we want to earn our bread by making a real contribution. This means first and foremost doing something to show that our presence makes a difference.

And so we ignore our greatest gift, which is our ability to enter into solidarity with those who suffer. . . .”

-Henri Nouwen

***Shared with my friend's permission.

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