Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Stepping Off Cliffs

I've got friend coming out of addiction.  I was up way into the night helping with it.  He clearly wants my help.  But he also struggles with fear and often resists that help.  It is a terrifying thing to consider giving up the things that have, however falsely, comforted you for all these years.

I think he believes there will be other, more healthy, ways to deal with the pain and that eventually, Christ will actually heal the wound.  But it's still a little intimidating.

I remember the first time I rappelled off a cliff.  I saw others do it successfully.  I'd been trained in the technique.  I was on belay and promised that if anything went wrong my belayer would catch me.  I was armored with helmet, gloves and adequate clothing.  I knew that all I had to do is pull my braking arm, the one holding the slack side of the rope, across my chest and my slide down the rope would stop.  This is because the friction on the rope would increase to a point at which it would no longer slide through the apparatus that attached me to the rope. It all made sense and I'd seen it work.  What I lacked was experience.  I had no idea how hard it would be to pull my arm across my chest.

I think my friend is experiencing something similar.  He's seen others go into recovery and it looks real good.  He's learned the methods of doing so and is a rigged for success.  I promise him that God has him on belay and will catch him if he faints or gets hung up.  Still he doesn't know how it feels and how hard it will be so actually backing off the cliff is quite a challenge.  He's gone to the edge before and chickened out.  I encourage him all I can.  I try to get him to make a commitment to just do it this time, but he chokes.  He thinks I'm bullying him when he's not ready.

It's hard to be patient.  On this side of addiction its hard to imagine what he's going through, even though I once stood right where he is.  The memory of that fear is fading and I stop a second and smile, gratefully, at the realization.  It's hard to see him missing out on all the fun.  Its hard to see him suffering so; wanting it so bad, but afraid to take it.

This morning I pray he'll just do it.  If not, maybe next time.  I know he wants it.  I can see it in his eyes.  One day he'll want it bad enough to trust the means and methods and step over the edge.  As in rappelling, it's all down hill from there.  That is in easiness.  The first step back's the hardest, because it's all about choice.  Once he decides he's going to do it, no matter what, I'll breathe a heavy sigh of relief.  And once he has faith enough and steps over the edge and then senses what is transpiring in his new exhilarating life, so will he.

Note:  Technology and methods have greatly changed since the rappelling method I described.

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