Yesterday I wrote a blog and promptly deleted it-the piece felt off and I used too much foul language. While I excel at four letter words, that is not who I am in Christ, and I want to do more work for him, the creator of my universe, the master of my domain. I also want my words to comfort, not condemn. If there is a biblical story I relate to, and there are many, the story of the prodigal son is one that hits home, hits me right in the solar plexus, if you will.
I remember sitting in a rehab facility, alcoholics and drug addicts alike,, circled to create the illusion of a bond. The social worker asked each one of us when we began our drinking/drugging career-about 5 or 6 people answered, leaving me to ponder if I should tell the truth, or lie………..
“Age three…….,” I mumbled underneath my breath.
“Come again?,” he replied.
One evening, my father was up in his bedroom, taking a shower after a long week of travelling. My mother was the perfect wife at the time. She channeled Mrs. Brady each and every Friday, and not only would she prepare a gourmet meal, she would have his gin martini (pickled onions please-no olives!) iced glass and all, ready for him upon his return to the living room.
“Mary Lou?!!!! Did you drink my martini? The glass is empty.”
Of course, I only know this story because it was repeated to me at least one thousand times while growing up. Apparently, I drank that 8 ounces of gin (daddy liked it dry, no vermouth) in one long gulp, as my mother hadn’t done it and our golden retriever was on the wagon. I was told I became extremely giddy, extremely wobbly, and then passed out. My mother promptly called Dr. Shultheis and he laughingly told her to give me a baby aspirin and call him in the morning. What disturbs me is this: have you ever tasted gin? Why didn’t I spit it out, throw up, cry…….? I firmly believe that I enjoyed the Harry out of that martini, although I never drank gin again-it reminded me of my dad’s near death experience at the hands of bloody alcohol.
According to my parents, I remained the perfect child (straight A’s, nurse to mother’s hangovers, housebound and chaste) I didn’t rebel until the age of 22, which coincided with my father’s pancreatitis and ensuing coma as a result of alcohol withdrawal. At Villanova, I was the designated driver. We all piled into my father’s baby blue Cadillac (bought from a Mafioso-which we discovered on a trip to the shore, when we were shot at while driving underneath a bridge) and my gal pals would party the night away, while I sipped ice water, and the occasional beer. One night, while at a frat party, overcome with heartache at my daddy’s plight, I drank a cup of punch, not knowing it was spiked with grain alcohol. What followed (oh, the escape! the bliss of numbing oneself to the point of oblivion!) was twenty-four years of outrageous and dangerous behavior. I hurt everyone I came in contact with, and my marriage and relationships were falling apart.
One evening I awoke in a hospital room, my wrists bandaged and head aching, surrounded by nurses, social workers, my long suffering husband and a stone faced police officer who watched my every move. I had tried to end it all, and when I heard my husband tell the doctor that I had threatened him with a knife over a bottle of wine? A tiny little voice, from somewhere deep within, whispered words I didn’t want to hear at that time: “Come to me, I have been waiting patiently.”
Slowly, I began the healing process. Having run from emotional pain my entire adult life it was now time to put it all in God’s hands, and never look back. One by one Jesus has taken my broken places and turned them into a tangible testimony, one in which I will tell you that forgiveness, grace and love have prevailed. I did not earn that mercy. I had done things (stolen pain pills, crashed the jeep while abusing OxyContin, lied to all who knew me) that kept me feeling guilty, ashamed and unworthy.
“If you’re lost and wrecked again, come stumbling in like a prodigal child……let the gates of mercy open WIDE.”