Teen Challenge New England | OUTSIDE In
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It’s around 8:00pm and I’m going to the grocery store with my wife to grab a couple items that we need for the next day.  outsideinPersonally, I like to be in and out of the grocery store, so I look like Hussein Bolt gunning for the tortilla chips and salsa in pursuit of my favorite snack.  Looking for the best deal,  I happened to notice a young girl, maybe early twenties, with a baby boy around three years of age.  Not that she looked dirty, but she wasn’t well kept, her hair was a mess, her face fatigued and it seemed as though she has had a rough couple of days. Then I looked at her hand and noticed the needle marks.. My blood began to run cold, I have to fight tears every time I see this situation, and it happens more and more.

Then the thoughts come rushing in. At this point there is no judgement or criticism, it’s purely compassion. A lot of people are naïve to the addict; she has probably been able to hide her addiction from many because they were not sure what to look for or what they might be seeing. However, I instantly realized I was looking from the outside in. Instantly I realized that I was looking at her from the outside in; I had a certain perception of her.

Perception controls a lot of what we think and how we feel especially when confronted with certain circumstances. Perception can makes us think “All addicts should die”, “They get what they deserve”, or “How could you be such a horrible person?” As a Bible believing Christian, my theology agrees with all those thoughts, but not just for the addict, but for the sinner. Christians recognize that it’s a relationship with Jesus Christ and his grace alone is why any good happens to us, for both the believer and non-believer.

As I continued to meditate on this, I realized the need for compassion for the addict, but I’m not talking about the passive type of compassion that enables the behavior and prolongs the addiction. I am talking about compassion that reaches out and tries to change the individual.  This is what America needs, this is what our communities need, and this is what each addict needs. Compassion is what we need to fight addiction in our country.  The media has been all over this topic lately, and we see politicians (not to be critical) trying to get funding for “xyz” but it’s not the government that’s going to win this war (at least not alone), it is people, it’s citizens, family members, neighbors, and the church.  We have to unite and rely on one another to fight this war.

From the outside looking in, we often don’t know how to approach the situation. I would plead that you consider the person before you and realize that on the inside there is much turmoil, bitterness, and hatred towards one’s self.  Maybe you hate an addict for something they have done to you personally. Rev. Martin Luther King said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”