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How Not to Change Someone’s Mind

Today, I’d like to share a story with you. It’s a story of somebody coming close – very close – to changing my mind. Maybe even close to dramatically shifting my behaviour in a time when I drastically needed a change of pace; and in the last possible second, God came inbetween me and the right decision.

spilled bottle of yellow capsule pills
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A Cry For Help

When I was about 16, I got heavily involved with a wide selection of drugs. Some of these substances were directly contributing to my diminishing health, and I saw no way out. I was addicted, and the symptoms of molly addiction were amplified by my young age and direct access to the substance.

It’s fair to say I wasn’t “all there, all the time” and was neglecting my relationship, school, family and general responsibilities in favor of getting high. It was indesputable: I needed help. The only problem was, I had a strong aversion to medical professionals and a constant urge to avoid my problems entirely.

What I really needed more than anything was intervention. Someone had to put their foot down and stop allowing me to drag myself through the mud. To be fair, a few people tried. I remember an old classmate taking me by the shoulder and warning me what I was doing to myself, and I remember my mother breaking down into tears as she wondered what on earth was wrong with me. It was one man, though, a total stranger, who came closer than anyone before him to setting me on the right path.

Drug Addiction – ah_designs

The Right Place at the Right Time

So there I was, participating in some admittedly illicit activities on a sunny day with two of my friends, when a couple walks by. They had those cheerful smiles you only see on truly happy people – and were clearly just out and about enjoying their day. Then the husband glanced over at me, saw what I was doing and began to approach. His wife had a look on her face that told me this was a common occurance.

He was a very kind man, and, in the most polite way possible, asked what it was we were doing. When I told him, he looked sad. Genuinely, actually sad. As if the idea alone of us wasting our young lives with our heads in the clouds pained him.

To be clear, I was very ignorant at the time. Rude. I had no respect for anyone who tried to tell me what to do, or how to do it. That’s why it was so exceptional that this man stood before me, shaking his head at my actions. I felt terrible.

But as he spoke, he told us of his experience as a young man. He told us that we had our whole lives in front of us, and we were on the brink of throwing that all away. His words actually touched me. For a brief moment, I was awake. Aware. I knew that I had to do something, and for the first time in forever, it felt like I had control over my own life.

Jesus on the Cross – Jesus Christ, Susperstar

Have You Heard of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ?

But then, the man pulled out a pamphlet for his church. He started going on about Jesus, and letting him into our heart, how Christ would guide us away from our lifestyle choices and towards the light – that God would be able to help us, even if we couldn’t help ourselves.

Looking back, I want to shout at the man. At the time, though, I just shook my head, dissapointed. I told him I had truly thought he was here to help. He told me he was, and I replied saying if ‘accepting Jesus into my heart’ was a necessary step to a better life, I’d sooner rot in the gutter where I was.

Why did it infuriate me so? Because he didn’t really want to help me. He thought he was helping, sure, but in his best-case-scenario, I would have gone home a christian. If he’d had his way, if his kindness and helpful demeanor had been able to convince me, I would have dropped to my knees and prayed to the very God I know to be responsible for so much untruth in the world.

His smile was no longer encouraging. His hand on my shoulder no longer comforting. In that moment, all I wanted more than anything else was for him to go away. Far, far away. God was a slippery slope, and even my darkest day wouldn’t push me that deep into desperation.

Maybe if he’d left out the Jesus part, or if I’d been less stubborn, I would have listened. Instead, I continued down my path of self-destruction for years thereafter. I’m not trying to blame this stranger for my mistakes – but the only people who seemed able to pull me out of that were those who loved me for who I was, cared for my wellbeing and helped me in ways that I needed, rather than pushing his ideology onto me in hopes that living his life would bring me the peace it obviously brought him.

close up of hands
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Religion Shouldn’t Hold a Monopoly on Love

I understand that if I had listened, I very well may have found myself off drugs considerably faster. I may have found the happiness, love and respect I so desperatley wanted from those substances in the word of God and the feeling of belonging to a church. But I shouldn’t have to give up my framework for another just to be healthy again.

That day marked the first in a long process of learning about the state I was in, and how important it was to be released from it. I was not healthy the next day, or the next day, or the day after that, but today I look back on that day as the day I learned that even God couldn’t help me.

I didn’t want him to. I wasn’t ready to succumb to religion just because there were things in life that I wanted. If God really could help people, I would simply be one of those he doesn’t. It seems most of the people I’ve met have had enough misfortune in their lives to second that statement. Faith may work for the old man and his wife, but all I really needed was a heartfelt talk with somebody who cared. So much for that.

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