The ladies I get to work with at a local in-treatment facility are nothing but statistics (at least in the world’s eyes). They’re the broken ones, the addicts, the relapsers, the drains on society. Early in ministry it was too easy for me to smugly judge them for messing up their life while on my way to my next Bible study (Good Samaritan, anyone?). And then I got to know them. The outcasts, the broken ones, the failures. I got to know their names. More importantly, I got to know their stories.
Here’s what I’ve discovered after working with recovering addicts for over a year now: there’s a story behind every tragedy. One of the girls that came through was a smart one. She grew up in a good home. She had a solid upbringing. She was raised in church. But now she’s trying kick her meth habit and get life back on track. If you saw her now, you’d be tempted to shake your head at a life of potential gone to waste. Shame on her. But you wouldn’t know her story.
I do, because I asked her. She had mentioned to me that life went south at the age of 19. So what happened when she was 19? She got pregnant out of wedlock, and her parents were more concerned with her losing her sports scholarship at college than the unborn life inside of her, so they forced her to get an abortion. She obeyed her parents, and her world came crashing down around her. Fast forward fourteen years, and she’s sitting in rehab after spending the last decade trying to escape (through drugs) the shame and guilt that she can’t seem to shake for a decision she intensely regrets. Years after the abortion she got married and got pregnant several times but always miscarried. She had to have surgeries and now has lost the ability to carry a child. She feels like God is punishing her.
On the outside she’s just another drug addict. Just another screw up. On the inside she’s a broken woman unable to move past a devastating choice forced on her by her parents. And now she has the shame of a decade lost and even more regrets piled on. She doesn’t know if she’s worthy to be on this planet. The next time your tempted to simply shake your head at a tragedy, realize there’s probably a story behind it.