Another Kind of Closet
“Come out of him.” – Luke 4: 35
In Newport, Rhode Island, the local radio station advertises that anybody can come directly to the fire house for free support if addicted or using drugs. In many cities, “sanctuaries” are developing in and around churches for drug users. These kinds of programs not only say with Jesus’ authority, “Come out,” but they confront the devil with the same kind of love.
What is love under the circumstance of opioid or heroin or alcohol addiction? It is learning to sing the song on the right beat. First beat, acceptance, second accountability. Sometimes the accountability beat is first, acceptance later. Some of us live on the self-blame, judgmental, even shaming one/three beat, the one that slows the song down instead of building it up. The better beat, the two/four, refrains from judgment, aware that the person asking for help or even noticing their deviltry, has taken a huge step. The two/four beat moves the song along.
Many argue that addiction is the refusal to ask for help. It is the loss of hope.
In the harm reduction world, there is often a hidden shame and blame. If you promise to have more willpower than you do, we’ll try to help you.
So many of us help in unhelpful ways. I, for one, have a Ph.D. in that kind of help. I can’t seem to stop myself from giving advice or wondering why the person doesn’t help themselves. After all, say I to myself, God helps those who help themselves. I am wrong. Jesus helped even those who didn’t or couldn’t help themselves.
That adage is fundamentally true, right after we accept the acceptance of God.
Release us, O God, from all that binds us. Help us to come out. Amen.
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her most recent book is I Heart Frances: Letters to the Pope from an Unlikely Admirer.