No junior higher should ever have to ask God a question like this. But that is exactly the question one middle school student asked when given the opportunity.
“If you could ask God one question, and knew that He would give you an honest answer, what would you ask?” One student’s response:
“Why is my mom a crackhead, and why does she choose drugs over me?”
As I often say when talking to students at camp, I hesitate to speak for God. But I have a hunch as to how He might answer this heart-rending question. I believe that He would say this:
There are many, many kinds of addictions — alcohol addiction, food addiction, pain killer addiction, pornography addiction, sex addiction, nicotine addiction, gambling addiction, so many others — including, in the case of your mom, drug addiction.
And the two things that absolutely break God’s heart about addictions are these:
1. Every single addiction causes things to break. Broken lives. Broken relationships. Broken hearts — your heart, and God’s heart. And once the pieces of our lives, relationships, and hearts lie broken, it’s so hard, if not impossible, ever to put them back together.
2. Addictions are so, so, so easily avoidable. No one is forced to become an addict. Meaning that countless lives, relationships, and hearts are so often broken needlessly.
Think of it this way: No one is born an addict. Your mom was not born a crackhead. Addictions were never a part of God’s plan for her life.
Addictions always begin in the exact same way: A person (your mom) made a choice. A seemingly innocent choice, or so it would seem at the time. A small choice. An apparently insignificant choice.
Of course, I don’t know the specific back story about your mom. But I do know, and over the years have met, scores of people with a variety of addictions. And so far as I know, every single one of them at some point in their past made a fateful choice.
Your mom was either at a point of desperation in her life, and thought that smoking or swallowing or inhaling or injecting a substance into her body would dull the pain for just a few precious moments. Or she was with a group of friends just out to have a good time. Her friends were making choices. And they somehow persuaded her to make the same choice. So wanting to fit in, while in her mind minimizing the consequences, she made a choice.
In either case, she made a choice that had disastrous consequences.
Disastrous because one choice will usually lead to a second, which will then result in a third, that then becomes a fourth. And as is true with every addiction, she eventually passed a point of no return. At some point, she yielded the control of her body to a foreign substance or improper impulse, something that God never intended for her to do.
And the result is a broken life, broken relationships (including her relationship with you), and broken hearts (including God’s and yours).
I say all of that to say this: It’s not personal. Your mom is not choosing a drug over you. She never did choose a drug over you. Please read that again because I want you hear that. She is not choosing drugs over you.
I have no doubt that if your mom could turn the clock back to the split-second before she made her first disastrous choice, she would make a different choice the second time around. Never have I ever had an addict tell me that they are thrilled that they became addicted, and that if they had it to do all over again, they would become addicted again. Never. And that “never” applies to your mom as well.
Now, I know that none of this can repair a broken life, broken relationships, and broken hearts. But it can do the following:
1. You need not think about your mom’s addiction in terms of acceptance or rejection, as if she is accepting drugs and rejecting you. Please believe me: It is not personal. If someone could wave a magic wand and release her of her addiction, your mom would jump at that opportunity. But as you’ll learn in life, there are no magic wands.
2. Your mom needs you now more than ever. Even if she seems to be pushing you away. She needs you to show her the highest form of love in the Universe. We call it unconditional love. The same kind of love that God has for you, and for your mom.
God loves your mom no matter what, addictions included. I mean, if anyone should feel rejection, as if your mom is choosing drugs over Him, it’s God. But He “gets” that it’s not personal with Him either. So in spite of her addiction, God loves your mom. You now have a golden opportunity to learn to love her in exactly the same way that God loves you. God will always love you, no matter what. As I learned a long time ago,
“People need love the most when they are the most unlovely.”
So does your mom.
3. Every time you feel the pain of your mom’s addiction, this can be your most powerful reminder and motivator to be very, very careful about the choices that you make. Choices about what you do with your body, and what you put into your body. Especially when you are tempted to think that you can get away with it, that you will beat the odds. The four deadliest words that I know for a Christ-follower are these:
“I can handle it.”
“I can handle it if I just take one drink.” “I can handle it if I take that one drug.” “I can handle it if…” I beg you, beg you to be very, very careful about what you do with your body, and what you put into your body. Because it’s a devastating thing to become a slave to any addiction.
I leave you with this. A simple instruction which, if your mom had read this and taken it to heart, would have protected her life, her relationships, and your heart from being broken. It may be too late for her; it is not yet too late for you.
The Apostle Paul was thinking of dear, precious people just like your mom when he wrote this:
Some of you say, “We can do anything we want to.” But I tell you that not everything is good for us. So I refuse to let anything have power over me… We are not supposed to do indecent things with our bodies. We are to use them for the Lord who is in charge of our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:12-13, Contemporary English Version).
If you will make a choice to live according to 1 Corinthians 6:12-13, then out of the ashes of your mom’s addiction will result the beauty of your God-honoring life.