Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Sacrifice

I'm giving up processed sugar because my brother is giving up drugs.

Let me explain.

By birth, through my family lines, I have a younger sister, Kimberly. We are two years, three months apart. She is one of my favorite people in the world, and I never feel like I get enough time with her and her amazing family which also includes her dear husband and her 5 (FIVE!) boys.

And then, God gave me a "brother". John.

I met John years ago because he was dating a friend of mine, and I loved everything about my buddy Kelly; therefore I loved John right when I met him. He grandfathered right in to my circle of friends. After they had been dating a few weeks, Kelly confided in me that John was an ex-heroin addict. I was shocked, and impressed, that he had transcended that life. And, if I'm honest, I was a little proud of myself for being so open-minded as to associate with an ex-IV drug user. Aren't I bold?!

Through a long, drawn-out, Dr. Phil-show-type story, here is the bottom line: John did not stay clean for long. And he played a part in introducing Kelly to opiates. And for a while they destroyed themselves together. And it was the saddest thing I had ever seen (the bits of it I did see; drug users are really good at disappearing if they think you'll see through their lies).

If we fast-forward a year or so, we get to the part where John and Kelly go to detox, separately, but still together. They struggle. They break up. And, for some reason, my dear husband and I let John into our home, and told him he could stay with us while looking for work and a place to live.

And so began six months or so of having a roommate. One who had demons I had previously only experienced on "Intervention". One who had such a shady past that he struggled finding a job. One who didn't know anything about a normal home life, with home-cooked dinners and bickering spouses and a budget. And we loved him.

Stash, my dear husband, and I have marveled plenty of times at the twists life can take. We believe God wanted John in our lives. That we are blessed to know, and love, this man. I began calling him my brother when he moved in; he referred to me as "sis". "Brother" was easier than "my friend's ex-boyfriend who's trying to clean up" when I was introducing him. Besides, who would actually CHOOSE to have this shady individual in their life? When I say he's my brother, people get an understanding look in their eye. It usually says something like, "Yeah, don't we all have a black sheep in the family? Don't worry Brigitte, the sketchy brother won't change the way I feel about YOU."

I was always the black sheep in the family. It was weird to transfer that onto someone else.

See, I believe that John becoming my brother was God teaching me a real and big lesson. Don't we all know God loves everyone? And yet don't we all stick our noses up at someone, thinking they're not good enough for us? God loves John. He loves the drug addicts, the dirty homeless people, the crazies that talk to themselves. He loves the girls looking for love in all the wrong places, the alcoholics that try to numb themselves with their booze, the liars, the cheaters, the faithless.

Everyone. Even me. Even John.

I have had an opportunity to show my brother the way that God loves us, as imperfectly and as humanly as I can. I am privileged to have John in my life. He has shown me so many truths...and I have experienced a humanity to the addiction story that I never expected.

I'd like you to meet someone. This is my brother, John. He's 26, with a receding hairline (shhh, don't mention that!). He always offers to help with the dishes. He loves baaaaad reality TV. He takes the garbage out at the coffee stand for me anytime he's there. He can giggle for hours with Joseph playing on YouTube. He yells at Cami for snuggling with her boyfriend. He loves Mike N Ikes. He sleeps with his mouth open. He never puts his t-shirts in the dryer. He should pull his pants up when he's walking (or maybe buy a damn belt!). And he's part of my family.

John slipped up, fell off the wagon, whatever cliche means he's getting high again. I took him to detox yesterday, and he'll be doing inpatient rehab for the first time once he's done. When I was driving him to the detox unit yesterday, I told him that since he had to give something up, I would too. I'm giving up candy, sweets, processed sugar. It's my heroin. He's lived with us on and off for over a year; he knows how much I love my candy. This meant something to him. And when I crave peanut m&m's, I'll remember my brother, kicking something even harder.

Will you pray for us?

I need to go buy some fruit.