I’ve always known that stigma exists.
Since Joe died and I chose to speak about his overdose publicly, I have learned not to be shocked by the hateful and insensitive comments on social media about those struggling with addiction.
But what I experienced today took it to a whole new level.
After reading an article in the Orange County Review where I shared Joe’s story, a man came into my workplace to speak with me. He shared about losing his daughter in a car accident. About how the pain of losing her has never lessened even though she has been gone for a very long time. I listened – totally understanding that this kind of loss can never be fully healed this side of heaven.
But then – he began to speak of my son.
He said “Doing drugs is pretty stupid”
I agreed, “Yes it is”
“Well,” he said
“I think maybe that’s nature’s way of weeding out the weak ones”
I’m glad I was in shock because if not, I have no idea how I would have responded.
Apparently, because it was drugs that killed my Joe and not a car accident – or a disease – his death wasn’t as tragic – wasn’t worthy of our reflection and sorrow.
So, if I were to apply his logic:
We should be thankful people die in car accidents because that helps get all the bad drivers off the road – right?
We should be thankful people die of disease so they don’t pass along their “weak” disease prone DNA – right?
No one would ever believe those things – yet, we do when it comes to addiction.
How does someone reach the conclusion that they don’t deserve to live?
I believe it happens when we lose sight of our most basic human mandate:
LOVE one another.
So, to that man who told me, to my face, that my son’s death of a drug overdose was “nature’s way of weeding out the weak ones” . . . . I have something to say to you:
I say thank you.
When I am being swallowed by my grief, I will think of you.
When I am weary, I will think of you.
When I doubt myself, I will think of you.
When I am discouraged, I will think of you.
Thank you for reminding me of why I do what I do.
Thank you for reminding me there is still so much work to be done.
Thank you for giving me clarity as I walk this path.
Thank you for giving me more courage, more determination, and more will to continue on.
Thank you for reminding me to dig deep and find the good in my pain.
Thank you for reminding me to see you through the eyes of God.
Thank you for straightening my spine and helping me remember why I’m here.
Thank you for reminding me that I am strong, and will not be diverted.
I am praying for you.
I pray that the love of our Heavenly Father overwhelms your heart and your mind, revealing to you that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, sought out the weak in His flock and carried them – carried them! close to His chest.
So, for me, I choose weakness. Any day. No Question.
For me, I choose LOVE.