“I had tried everything!” she said. “Treatment programs, alternative therapies, and 12-step groups. It seemed there was nothing left to try. I had lost count of the times I had been in detox, but this time was different. I found hope in a simple, compassionate gesture. Finally, I had discovered enough of what I needed to begin my journey of recovery.”
This is a common thread in recovery stories which have been shared with me: one act of simple kindness pushed open the door to healing.
However, for those who have loved and supported a friend or family member, it is also difficult. They have shared the rollercoaster ride focused substance use brings. Grandparents, parents and partners have spoken of their feelings of desperation. They felt they had done all they could to support their loved one, and were isolated with few resources or little support. What many people may not realize is that sharing their family story of substance use to friends and extended family is very difficult. Parents, partners and grandparents too can be freed through simple acts of kindness.
Luke’s gospel tells the story of the disciples’ attempt to separate the “little children” from Jesus. He is very clear that exclusion of the children is not acceptable. In a simple act of kindness, the “least of these” are given hope. Jesus uses the moment to remind the disciples that acceptability and inclusion must never be dependent on social or political power.
In his meditation on the twelve steps, Richard Rohr, author and Franciscan friarwrites that Alcoholics Anonymousunderstand the power of powerlessness. “People mustbecome as a little child ready to have God do the work”, he says. “It is a negative capability that creates space, desire, and momentum, like a stretched rubber band.” In other words, when we relinquish control and open space for the Holy Spirit to work is when we can incorporate health, hope and opportunity.
Faith communities have a long history of viewing substance use as a “moral sin” or a sign of weakness. We now know addiction is a health issue. We know substance use is compounded by generational and/or situational trauma. However, when we come from a place of vulnerable compassion and inclusion, the gospel itself takes on a new vibrancy. Perhaps a Naloxone kit can become a symbol of the baptismal commitment to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving one’s neighbour as one’s self. This is a life saving act of compassion. It is telling the acronym for the instructions in the kit is S.A.V.E.M.E.
The arguments against involvement with substance abusers pale when we acknowledge that this saves lives! Truly, powerlessness becomes freedom and opportunity. I believe that we as people of faith are called to (re)discover the power in powerlessness. Jesus told stories and parables where the myths of status and power were challenged. We are charged with removing ourselves as stumbling blocks for “these little ones.”
What can we do?
- Ask the question “how can we help?” Connect with agencies who serve and support people with Addictions
- Connect with agencies who serve and support people with Addictions
- Have yourself, church leadership and clergy become trained in the use of Naloxone kits
- Acknowledge that no family, no faith community, is immune from substance use.
- Develop relationships and supports for families impacted by substance use.
The Reverend Canon Nancy Ford, Deacon, is the Anglican Director of Deacons for the Diocese of British Columbia and Deacon to the City of Victoria out of Christ Church Cathedral.
You can read more articles on our interfaith blog, Spiritually Speaking, HERE