I am a women’s teacher/counselor at Teen Challenge, a Christian discipleship program for people with drug and alcohol addictions. I grew up in a Christian home. I had a wonderful family. I grew up going to church, so I knew who God was from an early age. As a small child, I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior. I grew up in a Christian school. My world got rocked when I entered high school. When I was a sophomore or junior in high school, my mom was diagnosed with a serious blood disease. She died when I was a senior in high school.
I spent my second semester of my sophomore year in college, abroad, in southern Spain. One weekend I went to the beach with some friends. We were standing on the shore at night, and I started to cry. Again, all the emotion of losing my mom and her not being there came up. I went off by myself and started yelling at God, saying, “I’m tired of being strong, walking through every day having to deal with this, having to carry this.” People would say, “Jessie, you are so strong.” I was like, “I’m sick of being strong, God. I don’t want to be strong anymore. Why do my friends and other people have lives that seem so easy? They don’t have to go through this stuff. Why do I have to?” I didn’t hear any answer. I remember writing “I love you, mommy” in the sand. One moment later the waves came and washed half of it away. It was a visual depiction of what death does. It’s just, boom! All of a sudden it’s gone. It’s done. That person is erased from this earth.
At the time I was reading *Streams in the Desert. The [Bible] verse for that day was “My grace is sufficient for you. For my power is made perfect in weakness.” (II Corinthians 12:9) I heard the Lord’s voice so clearly as He said, “I never asked you to be strong. I never asked you to carry that burden every day of your life. That’s not what I want for you, and that’s not what I have for you.” That was the beginning of the process of realizing I had taken on the burden of having the identity of being a victim. I had grabbed onto the title of being the motherless daughter that will define the rest of my life because I am this motherless daughter. From that point, God started to bring different people into my life and show me that I’m not a motherless daughter but rather a daughter of the King. He showed me that I was not abandoned, that my mom didn’t leave me, but that she went on ahead. She was an amazing believer who loved the Lord with all her heart. She ran her race. She fought the good fight, and she kept the faith. By doing that, at her death, she passed on the baton to my sister and me.
People may say, “If you’ve never been through drug abuse yourself how could you counsel those who have?” My answer? The prevalent issues with the women and men at Teen Challenge are not the drug abuse. Drug abuse is only the symptom of the deeper problem. For many, the problem is that their parents weren’t there, or they had deep hurts and rejection as a child. We don’t realize how similar we are in our hurts and pain, and that is what we allow to define us until there is something new. If I were teaching someone how to be a better drug abuser, then you would want me to have a personal history of drug abuse, but if I’m here to disciple someone and teach them how to follow the Lord, do I need to have a history of drug abuse? I’ve walked with the Lord, and I know what it is to walk with him. If we’re pointing and moving forward then I have what I need.
*Daily devotional readings