by Randy Kosloski
Throughout history men have been judged by their physical strength. We are familiar with stories of physical prowess like the one telling how Samson tore a lion apart with his bare hands. We know how David killed not only a lion, but also a bear which attacked his father’s herds. These are two renown heroes of the Old Testament whose incredible acts of brawn defined them as warriors. If it were publicized today that a man ripped a lion apart with his bare hands, he would probably garner more protests than respect. Although we still respect men for their physical abilities—we pay them huge amounts to play a game and call it athleticism—we also recognize there have always been heroic feats that require spiritual, emotional and psychological courage.
In the movie Spiderman 2, Aunt May tells Pete Parker that, “Sons, husbands, neighbors, and fathers who do their utmost in these very roles; these are the heroes of our time. Our warriors do not wield swords or fire arrows; they fix dinners, roll strollers and give their money to the poor. Our heroes have to do a little bit of everything, and in doing so they sacrifice so much of what they dreamed of doing as young men.”
Aunt May aptly describes the unsung hero. You may know someone who fits this description. I do; his name is Jared. This young man has not scaled mountains, or killed wild animals, but he is a son, a brother, and a neighbor who does his “utmost in these very roles.” Additionally, on his journey to becoming a hero, Jared recovered from a drug addiction.
It’s difficult to comprehend all the challenges one faces in breaking such a destructive habit, but through our discussions, Jared provided some helpful insights regarding his state of mind as an addict. He had lost both his employment and his wife because of his dependence, and even when he was drowning in his addiction, he believed he was doing everything right. Although he was financially broke most of the time, he saw no red flags. He thought he had everything under control, and didn’t realize how many responsibilities he was skirting. He so enjoyed the escape he garnered from his drugs that he didn’t notice the pain he was causing others. In time, he found out reality was not quite as he perceived it.
After being trapped in his addiction for more than two years, he found himself passed out on the floor at someone else’s party—his body saturated with various kinds of drugs. When he woke up, there was a note in his pocket along with a phone number. The note said “When you are ready to clean up your life, give me a call.” At that moment he decided that he did not like his life the way it was any longer, and dialed the number. The call was answered by a friend he had known before his addiction. His friend took him under his care, and together they began to create a new life for Jared. Determined to be successful in his new life, he was able to become a contributing citizen over the course of time.
Yet, in spite of all his efforts, he could not escape the consequences of his past life. He had lost much of what was familiar to him. As much as he tried to repair the relationship with his ex-wife, it remained a hostile one. Given what he had put her through, he was sympathetic to her disposition, yet he still had a hard time accepting that which he could not change. Since he was trying to “move on” and had apologized as much as he could, he sometimes found it difficult to understand why everyone else could not do the same.
Together, Jared and I attempted to get a better understanding of how consequences are a natural result of bad choices. We discussed how consequences can be good indicators of bad decisions, however, they are little help to us before the decision is made. Despite his big turnaround, Jared discovered he would have to carry the weight of his mistakes for years to come. Although we always yearn to hear God’s words of grace, “I will repay you for the years the locust have eaten” (Joel 2:25), we often experience instead His words of justice, “I have sworn with an uplifted hand that they must bear the consequences of their sin” (Ezekiel 44:12). God promises to forgive and to restore us to him, but He doesn’t erase the footprints of our mistakes. Understanding this truth can turn consequences into helpful deterrents and convincing reasons not to turn or return to destructive behaviors.
Although Jared could not recapture what he had lost, his recovery continued. Through the grace of God, Jared now has a full time job. He frequently helps his elderly neighbor with home repairs. He drives two hours every Sunday to maintain healthy relationships with his family, and even enjoys coaching a soccer team on Saturday mornings. On top of all that he had the time to meet with me to work on becoming a better partner in the future than he was for his wife.
Therapists can become hardened and easily develop the belief that people just do not change. Even if they keep the belief that God is able to change people, they often stop believing that people will ever utilize God’s offer to change them. Many times people continue on their self-destructive paths, despite dangerous consequences. Jared was a refreshing reminder that people do change and are worth the investment.
Jared is not a Christian, but hopefully someday he will discover it was more than desperation that motivated him to change. God’s love couldn’t leave him in the cesspool he had chosen for himself. He had for Jared, instead, a journey from which he would emerge a hero. God calls us all to choose the same daring course, directing us away from selfish desires and toward a deeper relationship with Him.