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Category: Testimonies
Topic: When the face you see',' is a face you know.

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My husband of 17 years became addicted to heroin two and a half years ago. He had had a struggle with alcohol in his twenties and thirties, and gone into recovery about ten years prior to the herion addiction. In the intervening years, we had put our lives together and were living a good and peaceful life.

After about a year of Charlie bouncing in and out of various programs, he is now homeless. We are now divorced because legal consequences of a drug life will affect the families.

He lives in our local Rescue Mission. I am a ministry worker in the area and have contact with the various agencies and social services. I not only see his face when I am driving to work, but hear about him from different people who ask me if I am related to him. God did not give me the luxury of not having to see what is happening to him or being unaware of the kind of day to day life he has.

When I do see Charlie, I can't give him so much as a dime because once I give him any money he begins to hoard it to use on drugs. About two or three times a week, I get a call from him and drive down to the mission with a cup of coffee and a yogurt parfait from McDonald's. Sometimes when he gets in my nice clean car, the stench is unbelievable. Some days he is doing well and the light of hope is in his eyes. Some days he is not doing so well and he cries and wants to come home. He hasn't seen our son for about three months, sometimes because I won't let him, sometimes because Charlie knows it would scare our boy.

Charlie and I were deacons of our local church. It was a small congregation mainly made up of older folk. Many of them were very kind, although the addiction was a puzzlement to them. But every so often, I would have someone ask me if Charlie is really saved. And then, God help me, I wonder in the depths of my heart if they are.

Many times as I drive to work and look at the faces of people who are on the street, I now wonder, whose son, sister, wife, daughter, husband or father did you used to be? When did the misery of life become too much for you to handle? How did it become impossible for you to maintain a life of dignity?

And then I wonder if someone sitting next to me in church is in danger of succumbing to their inner pain in the same way that Charlie did. And I wonder if I would notice if they were, and would I help or turn away?

This book is for me a sad and horrible glimpse into my husband's daily life. It was hard for me to read. I thank God that it was written.


Posted: 2005-09-17 09:02:00

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Although my story is different from yours, I experienced similar feelings when I read Under the Overpass. My son accepted Christ as his savior at a young age and happily attended church with us and his brother and sister. During his late teens and early twenties he little by little started separating himself from the Church and then eventually “let go” of his Christianity altogether. (He has some legitimate reasons and he has some excuses, which is a topic for another day.) It wasn’t long before we saw that his lifestyle was messing him up. We tried many times and in many ways to help him until we finally had to admit to ourselves that it what we were doing wasn’t helping him. It was easy for him to continue to live a destructive lifestyle while we “paid his way” and so we had to tell him that he could no longer live at home. Kicking out our son was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.

Last year he went out to CA and through a series of events ended up on the streets. He met some “travelers” (it is what they call themselves) who reached out to him and he ended up joining them. He traveled with them for about six months and we heard from him only occasionally. We worried, wondered and prayed…a lot. We invited him home for Christmas and to our joy he said he said yes, but would need to save up some money. (We don’t give him cash anymore. You understand.) We waited and waited hoping to get a call saying he had gotten together enough money to get home and finally, just a few days before Christmas, he called to say he was coming! I was so happy!!

But Mary, when I picked him up at the bus station I could hardly believe my eyes. My heart was relieved at last to see him after being away for so long, but it was breaking at the same time. He was dirty, smelly, had matted hair, ripped clothes, mismatched socks, a back pack tied together with rope, someone else’s shoes that were to big, etc. It was awful. On the way home I noticed he was itching like crazy...he was also teeming with lice. I could hardly believe it was my son sitting in the car with me.

On our way home I silently cried out to God, "Lord this is my son, but it is as if I have picked up a stranger!" It was truly like a bad dream. Then the Lord gently and tenderly spoke into my heart the verses from scripture that say...when I was a stranger you took me in. When I was thirsty you gave me something to drink. When I was hungry you gave me something to eat. He didn't stop there, I also heard him say, and when I had lice you cleaned me up. I knew at that moment that with God's help I could do all He asked me to do for my son, the stranger. He stayed for a while, moved, got a job and lived with a friend for a while. We hoped things were turning around, but his traveling friends showed up and he left with them to travel. It is a choice we don’t completely understand.

Under the Overpass opened my eyes to see another layer of my son’s present life and the hardships that he probably faces everyday. The Bible tells us that God's love is the thing that draws men and women to Christ and so I pray daily that God will bring people across my son’s path that will show and remind him of the love of Jesus. The book also opened my eyes to the "travelers" that I personally pass each day. I even find myself looking for them!! Recently, while eating at a restaurant, a homeless man asked my husband and me for money to buy something to eat. I immediately wondered if this mans mother might be praying the same prayer for her son that I am praying for mine; that someone would show him God's love. Needless to say, that man had dinner! Who knows, maybe I was an answer to some mom's prayer! In retrospect, and after reading Under the Overpass, I wish I would have asked him to JOIN us.

I call what is happening with my son the sorrow of my heart. I am almost certain my son is becoming (if not already) an addict to some sort of substance or substances. Sometimes I can hardly breathe thinking of it. My husband and I have asked ourselves the question every Christian parent asks when their kid goes astray..."Where did we go wrong." We know that there are no perfect parents and we are the first to admit that we weren’t. If we could have a “do over” we certainly would do some things different, but we don’t get a do over so we do our best to not carry around forgive sin in the form of guilt. God graciously reminds us that although we didn’t do EVERYTHING right, we did MANY things right. So, we trust...and we pray...we sometimes grieve…and we wait… and we never give up hope. We know that God holds our sons life and soul in His powerful hands and that our Savior never slumbers or sleeps. What a comfort.

God has used this sorrow to change me in so many ways. Most importantly it has moved me into a deeper relationship with Himself. Here is how I describe what he did (and continues to do). God asked me to give him my pain. It took me a while, but I finally put it in his hands. Through my tears I couldn’t see what he was doing with it, or why he would want it in the first place! But what he was doing was infusing my pain with his love. When he was all finished, he dried my eyes, opened his hand and that pain had turned into the most beautiful gift. God is awesome like that.

We love our son so much. We do our best to keep the lines of communication open and to help when we can without enabling. Our prayer is that someday our son will "come home" and so we keep watch in case he comes walking up the street. And if we see him coming, we will take off running to meet him before he can hit the porch!

Thanks for your honest post Mary.

A Michigan mom

Posted: 2009-08-22 17:12:43

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