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You know, sometimes when you don’t have a particular vice, it becomes so easy to look down your nose at others who actually do suffer from an addiction. It happens everyday to lots of people, and most don’t realize that they’re being snooty or condescending about it. You look down your nose and think, “Ooooh, I wouldn’t do that!” Then you pat yourself on the back and think, “What a good fella am I!”
Kenneth smoked cigarettes for 40 years, and I looked down my nose at that. I didn’t do anything half as vile as smoking. In fact, I secretly knew he was determined to kill me by second-hand smoke! Yep, I was snooty about that. I was way above such stinky things as cigarettes! Kenneth also liked his beer, and I was way snooty about that! I was way above such smelly things as a beer belch! I didn’t have a wretched habit, hobby, or vice as smoking or drinking! I was above such awful things. The worst thing that could be said about me was that I was an opinionated chew-a-holic. I always have had a penchant for bubble gum! Also, Kenneth has a temper of the bow-legged variety, and I, well, of course I have to defend myself, don’t I? Enough said about tempers, and that’s a good thing.
Yesterday, I had a very rude awakening. It hit me right between the eyes, and knocked me for a loop. There was no way to get around it, the truth was staring me straight in the eyes – right there in blue and white. My addiction was exposed, and I was ashamed, so ashamed! On Google, the headline read, “Woman who drank a gallon of Coca Cola everyday dies.” A gallon a day. I thought well good grief, that’s way too much for anybody. I only drink three drinks a day, three 20 ounce. SunDrops! DO THE MATH! And then it hit me. I had a gallon a day habit that I needed to kick! Oh my! Is that what my tombstone will say? “Here lies Margaret, we told her she ought to stop, but she was ‘dying’ for one more SunDrop!” After a restless night my mind and my conscience cleared, and I decided that if that was the worst thing my kids could say about me – mama didn’t like water, and she drank a gallon of SunDrop a day, there are other things that could be worse. That’s a very good thing!
My father had an addiction to alcohol. That’s a bad thing. I wasn’t snooty about that – I was mortified, embarrassed, and ashamed. That’s a very heavy load for a child to carry, but carry it I did. Every time he headed out in the car, my mother would worry that my father would come home inebriated, chancing an accident while driving in his condition, causing harm to someone else. Many’s the night I was awakened at all hours while my mother tried to get my father settled down and back in bed.
Not only was my father addicted to alcohol, but he used that to chase down the tranquilizers to which he was also addicted. That, my friend, is a wild combination! Those days were not happy days for me and they lasted for me from a very young age until my father passed away on my birthday. Happy Birthday – right? That is an emotional scar that I carried for many, many years because you see, I had wished my daddy dead just a week before he died. To an emotionally damaged child, it seemed I possessed the power to personally whisk away someone else’s life! Imagine that! It scared the life out of me! So, what did I do? Well, I carried a ton of guilt for years, of course. That is until I could finally wrap my mind around the fact that at the age of 17 I was just not that powerful a person, and what I had lived through was life at its worst.
Looking back what I should have been doing was praying for my father’s salvation, instead of crying my heart out and wishing him dead. That’s a child for you though, and I had no idea that I really did have a special power – not the kind to make someone disappear; instead, I had a greater power, which could lead to a complete metamorphosis. I had the power, which could have meant positive change. I held the power leading to salvation. If I coulda, woulda, shoulda have a do over, that is something I would do differently. I’d PRAY, and that’s a very good thing.
I didn’t start this out to have you feel sorry for me, and I am not sitting here having a pity party. I am just remembering earlier days of my life. I was driving out to baby Cooper’s house to babysit and let his little mommy have some sleep time, and I heard a song called “Seein’ My Father in Me” by Paul Overstreet. This song related the changes a boy goes through on his trip to becoming a man, and the young man finally realizes he is seeing his daddy in himself. I thought of Adam and his daddy, and Cooper and Adam. I thought how good it will be when Cooper realizes he can see his daddy’s fine traits in himself. That’s a good thing.
I know that Tyson is often recognizing that he is indeed his father’s son when he catches himself saying, doing, or thinking of something the way Kenneth has done it. That’s a good thing. And then, I thought of my daddy, and thought, “Gee, I hope others DON’T see my daddy in me!” That’s a bad thing. It is a sad commentary on life indeed. I feel sure there are people out there who knew my daddy in ways I never knew him. I just really only knew him my way though, and I didn’t want to be like him. I was fortunate to have a loving well-grounded mother whom I would be delighted if people recognized her qualities in me.
Now, you can call me snooty if you want, but I have reached the point in my life that I do look down my nose at behavior like my father’s because I have come to realize that as his child I deserved so much more from my father than I received. I deserved his unselfish love. I deserved to grow up in a peaceful and secure home. I deserved to be a carefree CHILD, and I was not allowed much of that. Am I angry? Not anymore.
But, I do have an empathy for children today who are walking in my footsteps – children who aren’t sure if home is a place they really want to go today after school – children who don’t know if they will be able to sleep through the night without some turmoil – children who may wish one or both parents would just go away and die. There are just too many children out there today who deserve so much more in their young lives than what their parents are giving them. They deserve parents who have their act together. That’s a good thing.
They deserve to grow up realizing they see the good things about their parents in themselves. That’s a good thing. They deserve to be proud of their parents! They deserve the unconditional love a parent has for his/her child. That’s a good thing. They deserve to be children NOW and not jerked-up youth. They deserve a good family, one spent together in church learning about the good life that awaits them. They deserve a good home here and a better one for eternity. That’s a very good thing.
Our church, Tracy City First United Methodist Church, has an awesome youth program! We run buses and have somewhere between 80 to 100 children there on Wednesday nights, and that is a good thing. I have worked with these kids in the past, and I have heard some prayer requests that will melt the coldest hearts. I have heard the sweetest, most humble prayers from some of the children. That is a very good thing. Children know what they want, and though almost everyone of them will eagerly yank a piece of candy right out of your hand while decapitating the person next to them if he gets in the way, they also know without a doubt the one thing that is most important to them, and that invariably will be family! That’s a good thing, isn’t it?
Did you know that many of those children are humbly and earnestly praying for salvation for someone in their family? These children are learning to reach out and grasp that power I spoke about. Our kids are learning about the power of PRAYER! That’s what’s going on in our church on Wednesday nights, and that’s a very good thing indeed!