I Can Swim!

Seven months ago I made a home purchase and for the first time in 25 years I am no longer a renter. This is a MAJOR change in my life and one that I didn't think would ever come my way again.  And for the amount of a 4-1/2 year car loan, I will be a homeowner in less than five years! 

This move was preceded by a conversation I had with Cliff when I began to think about moving.  I didn't make this decision in haste, as was often the plan of my past.  I deliberated and prayed about it for several months, trying to figure out a way to gain back not only money but time.  My commute to work was nearly an hour each way no matter which route I traveled and my odometer clicked at least 40 miles a day for that task alone.  So in my chit-chat with Cliff, I informed him that I would be looking to make a move soon, paused, and then said "and you are not invited to come along".  GULP.  That one was so, so hard to say. 

Cliff's life had dramatically changed from that day in prison when he had a conversation with God about removing this addiction from his body and a promise to change his life.   While on parole, he lived life to the letter of the law and most things pertaining to his former ways were gone.  What he battled however, was changing his pattern of life.  He had new friends, who were not in his prior circle at all but they still lived life as if they had not a care in the world. Soon old routines crept back in such as late, late nights and sleeping half the day away on the days he didn't work.  Then he tried to stay up with his pals and still get up for work. You can probably imagine how well that was going.  His routine was totally contrary to mine. Oh,  I tried to caution, fix, warn and threaten Cliff with a plummeting future if he didn't step away from these "friends" but my words were not welcomed. 

Realizing that my old patterns and habits were beginning to creep back in caused me to re-examine my own life style and choices I was making.  Being an enabler, I thought that giving Cliff an opportunity to get on his feet was a good thing. And the intent was exactly that.  But slowly time proved otherwise and what was intended to be a hand up ended up being a crutch and I began to feel oppressed again and extremely resentful.  "NO, NO, NO THIS CAN"T GO ON" I screamed inwardly. I had come way to far in this healthy living to step back one inch. 

So, with a month paid of reinstated service on an expired phone plan in his pocket, a packed lunch and $50.00, Cliff went his way and I went mine.  I paid his bus fare for a one-way ticket to a city in another state as he was invited to try and find his way in life there.   For months he would call and give me the updates of slow progress in his life and quipping that 'since he was kicked to the curb' he was doing the best he could.  I reminded him that he had 3 years notice that the curb was waiting for him and he could prepare for change  or ignore it.  Feeling overwhelmed with any life change Cliff chose to ignore it. 

Over time Cliff has now found his way in a new location, making new friends who are working hard for a living or getting an education of higher learning or both. Cliff has been forced to dig down deep in his soul and pull his big boy socks up and face the world, as my dad would say. He has realized that he is able to live his life in an adult way and hold his head up high.  In a more recent conversation Cliff said "I guess I had to see if I could sink or swim.  I always thought I would sink but I found out I can swim!"  Sounds a little cheesy but to Cliff this was a milestone for sure. His statement stunned me all the while I was listening as I thought to myself "whoever told you, you would sink??"   A twinge of sadness shuddered through me as I wondered why he never believed in himself before. 

Cliff will soon celebrate five years of clean living.  He is in a completely new place and has accomplished this on his own merit.  While most families would be seeing these results in their adult children at the ages of their late teens and early 20's, I celebrate every step of the way with Cliff. I am so thankful that he is having these results and I get to be part of it instead of visiting a cemetery and laying flowers on a marker every so often, which would possibly have been the result of an unchanged life if God had not intervened when He did. 

And, as I've changed my lifestyle and standard of living, most of my family relationships have improved greatly too.  So if you are a parent, sibling, child or friend of a substance user/abuser I want to share with you what God has said about this: 

"So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up, or quit"  
(Galatians 6:9 MSG).

Be encouraged!!

Pic via Google