I wish I remembered the quote exactly. I read it in the hallway of the Titanic Exhibit in Las Vegas. It was at eye level just before I entered the room where I would find out if I (or the passenger I was assigned to be during the tour) survived or perished. The plaque explained that someone's husband told his wife, just as he was sending her to a lifeboat unaccompanied by him: Be brave. Whatever happens, be very brave.
I'm sure it's not the exact wording or situation, and the sentiment would be so much more meaningful if I could remember the full story of the man credited with the quote. But, at the time, I was overcome by the spirit of courage and bravery, crying at the harsh beauty of that moment.Though it's not an exact quote, the meaning is still very much what I wanted to convey in this post.
I have written before on this blog about the ravages and glories of trying to help family members through addictions (of any kind). In fact, I'm still working on a book that tells my family's story from my own perspective. It's a story that, in embryo, was all about fear, and worry, and feeling like a failure, but blossomed into full-grown, battle-worthy, courageous and mighty being(the story, not me) who found not only a way through, but thrived in the midst of the war...and addiction is a war. My story has no end, because...well, there is always struggle, but the things I learned this past year were healing, and calming and took the raw and broken parts of me and molded them into a kind of courage I hadn't believed possible.
There were many tiny, daily acts of courage, and also Goliath-sized ones like telling one son to leave our home, and another he couldn't return. In my mind, it was Joan of Arc level bravery. (Not everyone agreed with me.) It gutted me for a while, and then broke me open to receive what would eventually start to heal not only me, but the people I loved, and was trying to help.
I told you all of that to tell you this: the power of a brief, but daunting act of courage can end in a beautiful pathway to healing for hopefully many to follow. I don't mean at all to be boastful, for it was not courage I created, but courage I accepted as a gift from God. And I didn't follow promptings but more accurately was compelled forward by powers higher than my own who had a mission they wanted to accomlish.
Well into the year that nearly did me in, I found some helpful direction from a couple of different counselors. My acting on their advice started to create change in both myself and my struggling loved ones. And to find support in places I hadn't known existed. I felt a powerful need to share it. More accurately a formidable inability NOT to share it.
But I was scared, and it didn't feel like it was my place to do what the Spirit was telling me to do, which was to meet with my church leaders and share what I'd learned. It felt a little like I was telling them what to do, or maybe pointing out what they weren't doing, which was totally not my intent. In fact, my intent, and my nature, is mostly always not to step out of my comfort zone at all. But the Spirit had other plans, and was vigilant in its promptings. It took some time for me to gather up the skirts of my bravery and ford my own personal Sweetwater crossing to their doors.
I had researched, fasted, prayed, experimented, journaled and attended meetings. When I finally felt like I had a little knowledge under my belt, I called for an appointment.
I love and respect these men so much and had no reason to be afraid to visit with them, but I was. I felt anything but brave. But I also felt compelled. Through much fasting and prayer, I finally came to a place where I felt like I could just tell my story—what was working for me and my family—and then leave the information, and the outcome, in their hands. It was their stewardship, after all.
They were gracious, interested and grateful while I met with them, and assured me they would look into the things I told them. When I left their office, I felt a sweet peace, but felt no need to follow up...to press them to action. I trusted them, and more importantly I trusted the God who sent me; the God to whom they listened and obeyed. That was several months ago.
Yesterday, I received the news that they were moving forward with things I had shared with them. It's news that is not mine to share yet, but trust me. No. Instead trust the Spirit that moved me, and them, that if you are a family struggling with addictions...help is on the way.
And because it is, you will have stories of your own acts of courage. And all our courage gathered together just might change the world!
"I believe that what we want to write wants to be written. I believe that as I have an impulse to create, the something I want to create has an impulse to want to be born. My job, then, is to show up on the page and let that something move through me. In a sense, what wants to be written is none of my business.
-Julia Cameron, "The Right to Write", p. 18, par. 2