Hope by John Stevens

hope-heroMy daughter asked me where I was going this evening. I said I was going to “Celebrate Recover” meeting to give a talk on HOPE.  She asked, “what are you recovering from dad?’  I told her” My name is John and I am a recovering parent.”  She was rather amused.

Hope. When all is going well and the world seems to be heading your direction… you maybe don’t need hope or think about hope very much. If you do it might be rather superficial as in “I hope I get to work on time”. Personally, right now, “I hope I can get through this talk on hope.”

When life puts you through a trial by fire and all seems hopeless in the eyes of man, when all is burned away such as pride, selfishness, lust, ( insert your favorite hang up here)… all that is left is hope and faith. For me pride evaporated. I had and still have a bumper sticker which says “Proud parent of an O’Leary Junior high student.” The bumper sticker has faded into near nothingness now but it is a reminder of what was left for me. Hope and faith were still standing tall. Pride faded into the past and hope refreshes the vision of the future.

Hopes in our past are probably gone or maybe faded like the bumper sticker. We must look for new hope from Jesus’ words and His life. We must base our hope on Him, live in Him, trust in Him and never give up.

Most of my life, I have been the type who could fix things. Then the reality that my youngest daughter was broken and I could not fix her nearly shattered my life. As hard as we may try we can not live someone else’s life for them. Alcohol and drugs had apparently triggered bi-polar tendencies and she went from a straight A student to a total failure in a matter of months. It was very difficult to understand or even accept that this was happening to our family. For some time the guilt factor was rather great. Where did we go wrong? Why is this happening to OUR family?

The next two years spun totally out of control. Counseling and therapy seemed to make the situation worse. I remember saying in one session, “I feel as if she is on the other side of a glass wall. There is a door in the wall but there is no handle on my side to open it. As I pound on the door, she is bleeding to death and she will not or can not open the door and let me in to help her.” I felt helpless and there was little hope. Life as we knew it was slipping away and it would never be the same again.

Skip forward to May 6, 2003. At work, I received a call from a credit card company and they ask, “did you make such and such purchases? No.” They put a stop on all activity on the card. I went home and found my card in my daughter’s room. I told her to get dressed we are going to take a ride. She got some clothes on and we went down to the Sheriff’s office. A couple hours went by as we sat on a bench and waited. Our hearts sank as we watched her taken out of the sheriff’s office in chains to juvenile detention.

This was the turning point of hope. It was going to be a promise of new hope or a train wreck. It all depended on the decisions she would make in changing her life style. There was a light at the end of the tunnel and I hoped it was not an oncoming train. After 20 days of detention and another 30 days house detention, we made a trip to the Walker Center where she would spend the next 30 days. It was not an easy 30 days and there were some very tense moments. About 3 weeks into the 30 days, there were three intense days of family sessions. On the second day of the family sessions at the Walker Center, we were on our way home and for the next two hours, I felt compelled to write this piece. I could not stop writing. It just flowed out of the pen from the interaction with parents and our children.

“My Name is ______.
I am a Dopeless Hope Addict.”

Life seemed to suck.
The pain seemed so real.
The drugs seemed so easy
To change what I did feel.

At first it seemed to help
To cover up the pain.
But the sucking sound I heard
Was my life, down the drain.

The hole I found myself in
Got deeper by the day.
Hope seemed to fade from me
That help was on the way.

The help I sought and found
Was the “friends” who got me here.
Those who had the pot, the meth,
The drugs and the beer.

The family I once had loved,
Seemed distant from me now.
My love had turned to hate
By the love of drugs somehow.

The hole caved in on me
From a distance I could hear.
“We loved her, Oh so very much”
“We failed her. Somehow my Dear.”

They pulled me from the darkest hole
I, myself, had dug.
And took me into their arms
To rescue me from drug.

The days turned into many weeks.
My head began to clear,
To see the ones who really love me.
My hate was not so near.

A cloud of doubt and guilt rained down
For the things I had done.
Soon love returned to fill my heart
Where once the drugs had won.

Forgiveness came from those who loved,
To me, for the many years.
For the pain and sorrow I had caused
To them, through many tears.

A group of families gathered ’round
With love so great for me.
I soon discovered through the tears
Their abundant love was free.

I felt the love of those who care.
I learned to love again.
To care once more for what I’d lost.
To trust and live within.

When temptation comes to my door
To offer me a high.
Let Love instead answer the knock
And with Serenity say – goodbye!
——————————————-

This story has not ended. It will continue for a life time. Life is about choices we make on a daily basis. It dictates what we will possibly do tomorrow based on what we do today. Life is built on choices. The end of the story will be written when we meet the One who loves us unconditionally. The One who died on the Cross for us.

Love triumphs over adversity when God is in it. In the vernacular of Lola of “Charley and Lola “Never, never, never, ever give up” must be the words to live by. Progress is made even when there are two steps forward and one step back. Thank God for the progress. Hope lives on in the hearts of those who trust Him.
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A strange feeling set in during the time she was in detention and a ward of the court. We could sleep at night. We knew she was in a safe place and not running in the drug culture. It meant we would not get a call in the middle of the night to identify her body. It was the first time in a long time we could breathe.

On Father’s Day that year, my daughter wrote me a two page letter, a beautiful letter saying she understood why we did what we did. I treasure this letter. Tough love does not get any tougher. It was very tough on us. Most every night the last few years when I go to bed and she is awake, I hear this little voice as I pass her bed room, “Goodnight Daddy, I love you.” “I love you too, Sweetheart.” It melts my heart every time.

As I lay my head on the pillow my thoughts most every night are, “thank you Father for this day. Thank you for my daughter, thank you for letting us be her parents.” And with that, all is well in the world.
Faith, hope and love. The greatest of these is love. Without love there would in all likelihood not be very much faith and hope hanging around. God’s love for us is so great, how can we not give our love to our children and each other, unconditionally, as an extension of His love for us? The story of the prodigal son was ever on my mind. A story of never ending love and hope on the part of the Father.

My hope is in the eternal Jesus who has promised to never leave me or forsake me.

I can not imagine living my life without hope. I can not imagine living without the love of God.

Spring of 2002 unraveled for a friend of mine. His wife got sick, his mother came out to help them and she had heart failure and died in the hospital one floor below where his wife was located. A month later his wife died, he lost his job, a vertebrae in his neck deteriorated, his insurance evaporated. It was Job all over again. We spent many hours of many days trying to make sense of his situation. It seemed pointless. Absolutely hopeless. I can remember a cold fear pouring over me. There was nothing I could do to help him.

I wrote a piece called “Hope for Tomorrow” a couple months later that reflected his loss and my loss when my mother died 1991. Writing is therapy for me. Writing puts on paper a reminder of where I am at that time. The words of this piece points to the loss of a loved one but the thoughts can translate to any loss.

Hope for Tomorrow

My heart was so heavy
With sadness and sorrow.
The day was so dark
I could not see tomorrow.
Hope seemed so dim
Through the tears that I cried.
I could not see You Lord
The day that she died.

I remembered Your promise
To be by my side.
For always You’re with me
In You I abide.
In the midst of the darkness
Your hand touched my soul.
You drew me so close
And made me whole.

There are times that I cry
Alone with just me.
When the silence comes crashing
Like a storm-troubled sea.
There are times that I laugh now
When I remember the years.
That we shared together
Through the good times and tears.

The peace oh Lord
The memories You bring.
Fills my life with hope
Make my heart strings sing.
Draw me close to Your side
And lead me gently on.
Give me hope for tomorrow
Till the dark turns to dawn.
———
Open my heart Lord
Let out the sorrow.
Pour in your spirit
And hope for tomorrow.
I need Your touch Lord
On my heart this hour.
Fill me with Your love
With Your healing power.

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I hope these thoughts I have shared with you have been an encouragement to your heart. I hope you will have a renewed resolve to never give up but keep taking baby steps forward as you make your journey with Jesus through this life. Now from the words and wisdom of Lola, “I will never, never, never, ever give up Charley.”

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