From my front row seat

Saturday, May 28, 2016

A Beautiful Place Called Rock Bottom

This may sound terrible, but back when I was the one to interview potential residents in jail, I loved to find a woman who had reached rock bottom.  I looked for the telltale sign she was really there:  she had lost everyone.

She would often be a woman who collapsed onto the metal table where we talked, crying uncontrollably, not even concerned about how she might look to the other inmates or officers wandering in and out of the room.  She was completely broken and would tell me, "I have no one."  And I was happy to hear it.

The reason I liked to find a woman who had truly reached rock bottom was because I knew she had the greatest chance of success.  She was the one who would probably make it.  Why is that?  Because she finally had to rely on herself to seek help - and there was no one to fall back on.  It was up to her and her alone.  Truth is, as long as there is someone out there who will bail her out (literally and figuratively) every time she messes up, why change?  It's working.

But what does it take to get to that point?  It takes everyone around her letting goYes, it takes letting go.

This is something that comes up quite often as we talk with parents, grandparents, friends, and advocates who want to help someone they love.  They know they shouldn't give her money again, they know they should probably let her sit in jail, and they realize they are enabling her - but it's so hard to say no!  I get that.

I'll be the first to admit, if it were my own child I'm not sure I could say no.  I often compare this advice to what they tell you to do if you are in the ocean and come face to face with a shark - be still and don't move.  Seriously?  That just completely goes against nature and everything your body tells you to do.  And saying no to your child who's asking for help feels just as unnatural.
So I had this on my mind the other day and decided to ask the experts what they thought.  I spent some time talking with the amazing women we have here at Blue Monarch to get their thoughts on the subject.

Here are some of the interesting things I learned:

First of all, I asked them if they thought it took getting to rock bottom to make the decision to come to Blue Monarch.  Every single one immediately said, yes.  Interesting.

I asked them to describe what rock bottom meant to them.  Each woman said it was when she had lost all support.  One said, "It took my family leaving me for good to finally make me break."  Another said, "It wasn't until I lost everyone's support that I really started to look inside myself."  And this.  "I finally realized I was about to become another statistic and my baby was going to be a ward of the state."

I asked a tougher question.  "For all the parents out there who are afraid their daughter will hurt herself when they finally have the courage to say no - what advice do you have?  Are they really running that risk?"

"Helping them more is only fueling them to go further down - so what's the difference?"  They all nodded and agreed.  They also began giving examples of when they had threatened suicide or said others would hurt them, just to get what they wanted.

So I asked, "What should people do, then?"  All at once, each woman began throwing out answers to my question - and it was clear they were quite passionate about what they had to say...

"Have faith that God will save them!"
"Don't make bond - let them sit there."
"For sure, don't give them money whatever you do."
"Pray for them."
"Don't believe all the lies."
"Don't answer the phone."  (And this was coming from a woman who had been living under a bridge at her lowest point.)
"Tell them you love them - but be strong and don't give in."

They then began offering words of encouragement beyond the pain.

"After they get better they will see where your love was."
"They will appreciate it later."
"They know their family will return."
"Coming back to life makes you understand why your family did what they had to do."
"They will thank you for loving them like you had to."

At that point, as if they had rehearsed it in chorus, they all said, "Please don't love us to death!"

So there you go.  Tough words from women who know what rock bottom looks like and what it takes to climb out.

There's one more reason I love to see a woman who has lost all support and it's by far the most important.  Sometimes I think it takes looking around and seeing no one before she is finally ready to reach for Jesus, which is the greatest help of all.  That's why rock bottom is actually a beautiful place.  It's from there that some of the greatest healing truly begins.

So do you know someone who needs help getting to Rock Bottom?

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."  John 8:12