Please Know...

As I come to know these fine people, they share with me more of their personal and sensitive stories. Their collective story is what I am trying to share with you as my way of breaking the stereotypical beliefs that exist. "Blog names" have occasionally been given to me by the person whose story I am telling. Names are never their actual names and wherever I can do so, I might use the opposite pronoun (his/her, etc.) just to help increase their privacy.

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Addicted, Homeless and Walking Into Walls

In the quieter moments of my work as "Your Helpful Neighbor", I often listen to Amazon Audible books.[1]  Steve Arterburn's book Walking Into Walls: 5 Blind Spots That Block God's Work In You provides AMAZING insights into my own broken way of doing life.  It also sheds light on so much of the agony experienced by my friends in Emerald City and its surrounding bridge communities.  

Some of the opening words from this book:

Too many people live needlessly in defeat, immobilized by their own mistakes or the mistakes of others. They repeatedly walk into emotional walls that block the work God wants to do in them. It does not have to be this way! No matter how broken or hurt, every person can discover the way to healing, hope, and a new way of living. Walls of pain erected by past traumas need not be the obstacles they so often become. Getting past these walls means seeing them for what they are, finding the lies they present and the truths they hide, or finding the door in the wall that will allow us to move on. The important thing to remember is this: no matter how big or impassable your wall seems to be, there is always a way to get past it. Always. There is a way around it, through it, over it, or there is a way to take the wall down. Walking into walls may be inevitable, but staying stuck behind them is not. You can get past your wall, and that is what this little book will show you how to do.[2]

It would be wrong of me to sit here and tell you, if you are running into walls in your life, that you can get beyond your walls if I'm not willing to offer myself as an example of me trying to get beyond my own walls.  So, somewhat nervously, here it goes…

Before becoming involved in ministry to and with addicted and homeless people, I wrote the following in an unpublished blog on October 21, 2016:

Before I write anything here, I want you to know that today is my 55th birthday.  According to societal standards, I am officially old.  Other than a few aches and pains that I didn't have a few years ago, I'm no different than I was years or even decades ago.[3]

Years and decades ago...  Hhmmm...  That's when it all started.  In my younger days, significant people in my life called me retard, pea-brain, Elroy (From the Jetsons cartoon because they felt I was a space cadet), idiot, stupid, lazy and the list goes on.  In recent years, a clergy person with no licensure to make a diagnosis, told me that I demonstrated signs of Aspergers Syndrome and therefore did not have the wherewithal to fulfill my calling in youth ministry.

Now let me stop there and ask you to listen to today's short message from Dr. James Dobson.  I heard this as I was listening to John Yoast, the morning host, on WBYN today as I was waking up deeply saddened as I realized that my life has gone essentially nowhere professionally.

Dr. Dobson summed up my issue.  Having been fed all these hideous one-liners throughout my life, I've taken them on as absolute, factual, unbeatable, unavoidable, non-workaroundable reality.

To all those people who called me those horrible things: You poisoned my spirit!  You broke me!  I'm sickened that your path and my path ever crossed!

Shortly after hearing Dr. Dobson's message this morning, I received this email from Dr. John Townsend.  I'd emphasize the part where he says this:

"Your support system. We truly are as confident as our relationships make us. People are the fuel of our lives. Their care, interest, attunement, and encouragement are often the difference between success and failure. We “internalize”, or take into our brain’s hard wiring, the ingredients of what others provide for us. When you call these people to mind or some helpful thing they said to you, it makes us believe more that we are up to the task."

Having grown up believing in the reality of a boatload of hideous labels, I developed an extreme sensitivity to hurting people, people who themselves have been hurt by the people around them.  That ingredient, when added to poor choices of my own adolescence, led me into youth ministry.  Even within that realm, the labeling continued and my belief in the accuracy of those labels strengthened in my spirit.  The end result is a person writing these words to you now who has not been involved in my calling out of the knowledge that I WILL screw it up.

But wait...  Could it be that God is doing something in my life?  Earlier this year, a person told me: "You're a great listener and you've brought me closer to God."  Listening to people share their stories has always been something I've been good at in spite of all my apparent defects pointed out to me by some of the most significant people in my life.  This person's words have become my goal number one on my resume and my life!  Let me make this clear, this person didn't give me the goal.  It had always been there.  This person gave me the Twitter version of my lifelong mission!

So where do I go from here?  Where does an apparent mental defective go to fulfill their mission of being a good listener and bringing people closer to God?

To be continued......

Jump ahead to today:

Since writing that blog, I have listened to the stories of the men and women in Emerald City and its surrounding bridge communities.  I have also read  Walking into Walls…, I've come to realize that what Steve Arterburn discusses in this book may be the missing ingredient(s) that I discuss in my blog Between the Sin and The Cell. 

Many, most or maybe all of the men and women of Emerald City, its surrounding bridge communities and all similar settings across our city, state and nation are walking into walls as they go through life with their addiction.  We can't erase what has been said and done thus far but we can change what we are saying and doing now and into the future. 

If you are addicted and homeless or the loved one of such a person or if you are a person who serves these good people, I would highly recommend reading or listening to Walking into Walls and paving your new path with whatever fits your life. 

That's what I'm doing.

[1] I'm one of those people who will listen to the same book over and over again. 
[2] Arterburn, Stephen. Walking Into Walls: 5 Blind Spots That Block God's Work In You. Ingram Distribution. Kindle Edition. 
[3] Maybe a tiny bit wiser…

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