Last night I talked to a relative of mine whom I haven't seen in a few years. He is the kind of guy who can be sweet and gentle and loving -- when he is sober. He struggles with alcoholism and it seems he has burned almost every bridge with his friends and family members. This disease has completely taken over his life.
Last night, I missed his first phone call, and to be honest I really didn't want to call back. I never know what mood this person is going to be in, and I really didn't have the energy to deal with it. Keith told me "Look, he needs you more than you need him. Be his friend."
So that's what I did.
I called back and we had a wonderful conversation. He was sober, and it was great to talk to him. Even though he feels alone in this world and like he has nothing left, I encouraged him that there can always be a new beginning. God is the master of restoring people. I told him that even though things are bad, he should be thankful. He has a roof over his head, food in his belly, and clothes on his body. And he is loved.
I understand why most of his friends and family have turned their backs. I've done it multiple times in my life to him. This person can be violent, hateful, and very disturbing. BUT, does that mean we should just abandon him? Should we just say "Eh, sorry that you're messed up, have a good life!" No. We shouldn't. We should love on him and try our best to help. When that turns into abuse, take a step back. But when we see someone drowning we should try to save them, not just let them sink. Sometimes all it takes is simple kindness to give someone hope.
"For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me." (Matthew 25:35-36)
"Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me" (Matthew 25:40)
Dad, I know I haven't always been there for you, but that's going to change. I love you and Keith and I will always be here.
No matter what.