It was a Sunday afternoon, Jerry Phillips stood nervously in front of his parent’s home. The last time he had been home did not turn out well. He had been high on drugs and drunk. This lead to a confrontation with his father and his brother. His parents put him out and told him not return until he was clean and sober. He had returned clean and sober but he was not sure if his parents would welcome him home. Jerry hoped that they would, he had something to ask them.
He closed his eyes and said a silent prayer asking God to give strength. This wasn’t going to be an easy visit. After taking a deep breath, Jerry walked up to the door and rang the bell. Soon he heard someone walking to the door. The door opened and it was his Mother, Martha. Martha was surprised to see Jerry.
“Jerry, what a surprise. What do you want this time? The last time you were here you almost had a fight with your brother. Jerry, I don’t want any trouble.”
“Ma, I’m sorry about that. I promise, there won’t be any trouble. I’ve got something to tell the family then I’ll be gone.”
Martha motioned Jerry to follow her to the dining room. When they entered the dining room the family was sitting around the dinner table. He had not seen them in a long time, his father John, brother Frank and his wife Sue and his grandfather, Jack.
Everyone was talking when they entered but when they saw Jerry they became silent. Their stares made Jerry feel as if he was about to be cut to pieces by razors. He could sense their frustration and disappointment.
After a long period of silence, Jerry’s father spoke up. There was anger in his voice.
“What do you want? You only come by here when you’re in trouble or trying to get money for your addictions or for those fast women you fool around with. If that’s what you want, get out!”
Jerry was hurt by his father’s words, but he understood the anger. He had misused his family. He wanted his father to know that he was there for a different reason.
“Pop, I am sorry that I put the family through all of that. I came by to tell you that things are different. I do want something from the family and it isn’t money.”
Some members of the family were skeptical. Jerry had a history of substance abuse and he had hurt the family many times. They figured that he had not really changed.
Each time he had claimed that he had changed he always relapsed. Why would this time be any different? As far as they were concerned he was lying to them.
Frank was unsure. He looked at his brother with disgust.
“Don’t let him fool you. He’s an addict and I bet that he’s high on something. Come on Jerry, admit it, you’re high!”
Jerry stood erect and looked directly at his brother.
“Yes Frank! I am an addict, I’m addicted to Jesus!”
Frank didn’t believe him. He still thought that Jerry was not being truthful.
“Yeah, right. Jerry, I bet that you were in jail, that’s why we haven’t heard from you for a long time. I also bet that you got ‘jailhouse religion.’ It won’t last, you’ll go back to your old ways.”
Jerry had expected this reaction and it disappointed him. He couldn’t blame his brother for doubting him. He had played this game before. He wanted to convince them that this time it was real.
He explained that he had been in jail for drugs. This last time in jail was a wake up call for him. He was tired of being sick and tired. The life of drinking and drugs had ruined his life. While he was in jail one of his best friends had died of an overdose. Jerry said that he realized that if he did not make a serious change, he would also be locked up for a very long time or dead.
While in jail Jerry joined an A.A. support group and he had to acknowledge that he had a problem he could not overcome on his own. He had to turn his will and life over to the care of God.
When he got to the fifth step which encourages members to admit to God and to others their wrongs, he sought out the chaplain. The chaplain helped him to look to Jesus for grace and forgiveness and the chaplain encouraged him to continue with
A.A. and to find a spiritual home. He also encouraged Jerry to work with his sponsor
and to work the eighth step, make a list of those who had been hurt by his addiction and the ninth step, to make amends with those who have been hurt.
When he had finished his family sat silently.
“I don’t expect you to believe me. I want you to know what I’ve said is real.”
After he said this he broke down in tears.
“I’ve taken up your time. I’m here to ask your forgiveness. Last night I spent many hours on my knees asking God’s forgiveness. I know that I’ve hurt and disappointed you. I can’t take back what I’ve done but I can and will to make amends with you. I
need your prayers, I’m still and addict and I can relapse. Your prayers and support will help me to stay strong.”
Jerry’s grandfather stood up and walked to him and hugged him. Grandpa Jim turned and spoke to the family.
“I have been praying for this for many years. If Jerry is gonna make it he’ll need our love, forgiveness and support. It won’t be easy for him. It took guts for him to come here. Whatever it takes we gotta help him through, and we can’t let him give up.
I have something to tell you, something I’ve rarely shared with anyone. I was a lot like Jerry when I was young. I did my share of drinking and almost everything. After I hit rock bottom I got into A.A. and the church. They both helped me, it was tough but Jesus brought me through. If you won’t stand with Jerry, I’ll stand with him. I’m an addict too. I’m addicted to Jesus. He restored my life and he can do the same for Jerry.
M.D. Carter 05/13/2018