I’ve seen them in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Blonde hair, brunette, blue eyes, green. Tall, short, slender, chunky. I’ve seen some of them hesitate and I’ve heard some of them spew. I’ve watched their shaky hands wipe the tears before they drip off of their chin. I’ve watched as others have pushed back the lump in their throat and pushed forward their thick skin. And I smile a soft smile while I break for them on the inside. Empathy isn’t really my thing. But when I look at these, I see myself…
Blue eyes, thick dirty blonde curls, and a girl trying to keep it all together. I’m strong, after all. But this trial, it came with a price, and I’m still paying my dues. And it sucks. But it’s brought me to this place. This place where in the brokenness, light shines through.
I never go looking for the ones like me. We find each other. At times over the years, it’s been girls on horseback. While I’m out there teaching them how to sit a trot, post on the correct diagonal, and feel a lead, they tend to tell me how their day is going, what their dog’s name is, and the latest school drama. Sometimes I hear about stuff at home. And I mean, who doesn’t have stuff going on at home? I want my kids to have a safe sounding board about all of our mess as they navigate life too.
Over the years there has been a handful, who keep it hidden quite masterfully, who open up and tell me about someone close to them dealing with addiction. My first words are, “Me too”. And the same thing comes over their faces, a look of shock. “Mrs. Lindsey, you too?” They would have never thought it. Instantly, I go from someone who they thought was unbreakable to a woman who has been broken in the darkest parts of my being. We get each other.
You know what else happens in that moment? They know that they can make it. That they can cause a shift in their tree, a change that I pray lasts generation to generation. Because I have made it. They know the tears I’ve sobbed. The questions I’ve asked until I was blue in the face. The blame that I’ve heaped on my own shoulders. All the ways I’ve tried. All the times it failed. They know. They know the trials, affliction, and distress.
None of us would have ever chosen this path. If we could, we would stand in the road and beg the next one to turn around, or just run us over. We would take one for the team. We’ve already taken enough as it is. But we can’t. We’ve been tossed and scattered, and landed in places we would have never been otherwise.
Meanwhile, the believers had been scattered during the persecution. -Acts 11:19a
Persecution: a pressing, pressing together, pressure, oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress, straits.
So, here I am. The daughter of an addict. Somewhere I never dreamed of being. But I have this hope. And this braveness that is really nothing to do with me. It’s Him. His power.
And I get to look into water filled eyes of girls. Girls just like I was. And say to them, “You can make it. You can break the cycle. If I can do it, so can you.” I fight back the tears that are welling and whisper, “You are not alone. I am right here. I’ve got you. And I get this mess.”
When the believers were scattered due to the trials they were facing, they took with them the Gospel. The Hope. And it spread like fire.
Years ago before I was a mom, when my business was just a round pen with weeds growing up the side, I met this little girl. She had dirty blonde curls too. She was at my barn every time she had the opportunity. It didn’t take me long to realize that she wasn’t living the fairy tale life. When her mom entered rehab again, she didn’t want to change schools, so several nights a week she slept on my couch. The other nights she stayed with another family from the barn. She and I went to group therapy for family members of alcoholics, I would drop her with the kids and head over to the adult room. She ended up moving after some time and over the years, I lost track of her.
Acts 11:19 made me think of her the other day. I found her on social media and couldn’t help but smile as I scrolled through her wedding pics and quickly realized she’s chasing after Jesus. YES! Another one of us has made it! She was scattered but she brings with her the Hope and Light. And on her path, she too will look into the eyes of others and say, “If I can do it, so can you. You are not alone. I’m right here.”
And so, I can’t chase back this lump in my throat. But these aren’t tears of hurt or defeat or ache. These are tears of victory, of knowing the power of the Lord is with her (Acts 11:21). These are tears celebrating the hope that in her scattering she will stop at nothing to let the trials pull her up and bloom where she has landed. Because no matter what our trials look like, we can bloom where we are scattered. And others will catch hold of the Hope and Might.
Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed but they sing as they return with the harvest. Psalm 126:5-6
I can’t erase the ugly scars that addiction has left me with, but they’ll never stop me from whispering to the next one, “Me too”. And I’m going to sing and dance as I watch these girls make it. It’s time to harvest with shouts of joy!