For a decade, my step-daughter, who I’ll call “Treasure”, has been on a path of self-destruction, teetering on life’s brink with various addictions and numerous rehab attempts.
Deceit had become the norm, as had escaping the world through alcohol and food. Despite a desire to do well, her instability led to a string of career terminations, relationship flops, and friendship fails.
For the sake of their own sanity, those who love her had to pull away and love her from a distance.
Last week, life lassoed her around the ankles again, dragging her down a familiar road laden with potholes of unemployment, fear, and loneliness.
A year-long relationship reached its breaking point, thanks in part to her boyfriend having his own addictions. Now, Treasure had no place to live.
For the first time in her life, my daughter faced homelessness. NOT BECAUSE SHE WAS UNLOVED – far from it. But, because those who had tried rescuing her in the past were scared to try again.
Although the thought of seeing our child on the streets or in a shelter was heart wrenching, nobody, including my husband and I, could bear the idea of reopening the wounds of the past. Having her under our roof had left a trail of devastation and a spattering of broken pieces to glue back together. The anguish multiplied when we learned that our efforts had not helped her, other than to provide a temporary bandage.
On Father’s Day, after being released from the hospital and sinking into another bout of self-loathing and brokenness, our child reached out, asking if we could have a talk.
“What are we going to say?” Ed and I wondered, realizing that our previous conversations had fallen on deaf ears.
After much deliberation, we decided to bring her to our house, with no expectations other than to love her.
“If we’re going to do this,” I began the discussion, “We all need to be honest with each other.”
I warned that she may hear some things that she didn’t like, but implored her to trust that everything we said was out of love for her.
Immediately, Treasure confessed that she’d been fired from her last two jobs due to her employers’ concerns over drugs and alcohol.
Although the news wasn’t good, it was refreshing to hear the truth … and confirmation of her terminations didn’t shock us.
Seeing Yourself in The Actions of Another
As the conversation progressed, I was surprised to hear the personal insights that Treasure had gained through watching her boyfriend’s addiction. While her beasts of burden were food and alcohol, his was prescription pills. Something she’d never struggled with and didn’t understand.
She’d tried to “save” him but quickly learned how helpless she was. He couldn’t be rescued until he was ready. Instead, she watched him spiral into darkness, becoming a shell of the person she once knew.
Guilt overtook her as she explained how, for the first time, she understood the pain we’d carried through the years, trying to help a daughter who was blind to her demons.
Her voice quivered with regret when she talked about the areas of her life where she had hurt herself and damaged others.
“It’s going to take so much for me to fix all of the things I’ve broken,” she cried.
“It sure is,” I thought to myself, but Ed had other things in mind.
“Treasure,” he said. “Every day is a new day. You can’t hold on to the mistakes of yesterday, nor can you worry about tomorrow. God will walk you through today, and when tomorrow comes, He’ll walk you through tomorrow. Nothing from your past can be changed, but today, everything’s new.”
If Treasure has burned every bridge she’s crossed, how can we honestly tell her not to let yesterday’s mistakes effect today?
After all, she can’t exactly call those she’s hurt and say, “Today’s a new day! Let’s forget about the past. Can I come live with you?”
We told her that, when a relationship with Jesus becomes her priority, she truly is redeemed each morning. That doesn’t erase the hurt that others still carry, but at this point, that can’t be her priority.
“Once you get right with Jesus … when you awaken each morning determined to begin anew, with Him by your side, your life will change,” Ed explained.
“When others see you doing that on a long-term, consistent basis,” I continued, “You’ll find that even the most damaged wounds can be repaired.”
Everything we discussed led us right back to one thing …
Until she knows Him … TRULY knows Him … nothing will change. As she comes to understand who He is through daily conversations, healing in other areas of her life will fall in line.
It’s hard to put our past in the past. It’s harder when we don’t know the Lord.
Yes, burned bridges remain burned. But burned hearts heal, through God’s grace.
Maybe her fear of staying the same finally outweighs her fear of changing.
We will always pray for our daughter and love her faithfully. But, we’ve finally learned that her true healing is between herself and her Savior. We are just vessels to help her discover Him.
… And yes, Treasure will be staying with us, temporarily, while she seeks employment, but with specific expectations that don’t offer much wiggle room.
I pray for all of our children who have strayed from the Lord, for despite how much we love them, theirs is a self-serving and lonely path.
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness
2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
YOU’RE NOT ALONE