I was 15 the summer I offered my best friend $40 for the 2 Felix the Cat tabs of acid I’d seen her buy at the party the night before. I didn’t want it, I just didn’t want her to have it–I planned to flush it down the toilet. Unaware of the street value of LSD, I hoped my offer would be persuasive.
It was not.
She refused to sell it to me. She told me that it was for her sister, and that she wouldn’t use it while I was there visiting her. She lied and then lied to cover her lies, and in those last 12 hours with her, my heart broke, as our friendship completely disintegrated.
Just like that.
I left her house earlier than originally planned. I didn’t know how to be around her. I didn’t know how to act like nothing had happened. The last time we had been together before that, she hadn’t using hallucinogenic drugs. She became a stranger to me. I didn’t know how to love her.
That was the last time I saw her.
Drugs scared me. The idea of intentionally taking something that could cause me to lose control of myself terrified me. At 15 I was naive enough to still believe that “bad people used drugs”. A “graduate” of the D.A.R.E. program, I knew that drugs were dangerous, illegal and only used by homeless people in back alleys.
My best friend didn’t fit my stereotype. She lived in a beautiful home with two parents and a pool. She was stunning and vibrant . In every possible way, she bore no similarities to the sketchy characters that I’d seen in the pamphlets about what a user looks like.
I had no category for gorgeous, wealthy, acid-tripping girls my age.
It turns out, I didn’t know anything.
Disillusioned and disappointed by my inability to fix her, I packed my bags and went home.
It’s been a long few weeks around here. One of my kids is struggling hard with some things and he doesn’t fit the category in my mind for kids who struggle with the same things he is dealing with. I haven’t known how to handle these recent developments. In my weaker moments, I haven’t wanted to. I’ve wanted to run far away. I’ve made foolish wishes when I should have been praying. I’ve been impatient and insistent when I should have held my peace, offered a hug, or simply walked away.
I don’t know why this story about my friend keeps bobbing around in my head, or why I’m even sharing it now. I’ve held on to it for a long time, unsure of how honest I’m willing to be here about who I’ve been. I don’t know what it has to do with anything except that retelling it (reliving it in my mind) has revealed a bit of disappointing truth about myself.
I want to fix people.
I can’t fix people.
People don’t fit in categories. Life is a series of outrageous interruptions. Sometimes, grief needs to run it’s course. Even if it’s from old, scabbed over wounds. This struggle with my boy is a scratching at scabs.
Sometimes, when it’s pitch-black-dark, I forget to look around, what’s the point?, I say to myself. I then wear myself out trying to BE the light I need. I strive and work and contort my life in an effort to generate hope from myself. I forget that I am NOT that light. Light burns in the dark places, but you have to open your eyes to see it. Christ remains present when our friends struggle, when our families suffer, when our world shrinks and squeezes the breath from our lungs. I knew this, but somewhere in the middle of the mess I became busy with the fixing, refusing to look at the darkness. Remembering this story has helped me to open my eyes.
Opening my eyes, I see hope–I see Christ present.
The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5)
I’ve long outgrown the girl I was at 15. I’ve seen and lived moments that have altered me without my permission, without my preparation, without my ability to fix them. I’ve learned acceptance of the reality of struggle, of sin, doesn’t mean approval. It’s simply a willingness to admit it’s there. To admit it’s real. To confess my weakness, my prejudices–my own sin. (1 John 1:8)
I’m making peace with the truth that I’m not called to fix people, but instead to walk with people, to come alongside, to offer light in their darkness.
I am not that light, but I can reflect it.
I can share it.
I can stay, even when it’s hard.