Monday, December 8, 2014

To the Teen Who Thinks Marijuana is Cool

A mother at my church is burdened for her 13-year-old son who began recently using marijuana, because, in his words, "Life is better with marijuana." My own upbringing didn't make this much of a stretch to write (having had a self-medicating parent). I added details making it relevant for teens. The end product is a generic self-medicating narrative. I pray it helps my friend's teen, or another one, though parents may have to change it to fit for their children.

Dear Teen,

Being you, really you, is hard. Cutting up to fit in with the other boys is socially expected--it seems boys aren't allowed to be serious or shy or studious--but you're not interested in being silly. It just isn't you. You're having trouble finding your slice of the social pie, and yet being left out entirely feels bad. Unnatural.

The fringe people, though? They seem to welcome you. They don't expect anything from you, or at least it seems that way. After a while, they offer you their funny cigarettes, and being an adventurous person, you try them.

Miraculously, your personality seems more dynamic. You start having fun for a change.

Being with these fringe people...well, it seems pretty good. You've found your special slice of the social pie, finally. Life is good. 

Some people, like your parents, don't approve and get angry, but really, you're not hurting anyone and marijuana is not addictive. So you find ways to keep buying it, keep using it, keep meeting with these same friends.

You don't worry about the future, knowing you can stop this when you want to. When it's time to get serious about life, you will, but right now, who cares? Kids your age should be having fun, right? They should have friends, good times, be making memories to write in yearbooks. All that's happening for you now, and you're not going to let anyone mess it up.

The truth you don't see?

You were confused about what matters in this life, and life got so heavy. Fitting in and having a slice of the social pie makes up a minute part of a long life--a life so different from high school. We're teens for a nano second. Once we graduate high school, we're all on a level playing field. The homecoming king has no advantage over the polite boy who never said hello to a single girl in four years of high school classes. They both have to start from scratch making something of their lives. Popularity means nothing. Sincerity becomes important.

Let's get to the root of the problem. When faced with what felt so heavy, what was your answer? Self-medication.

God is our healer. The lover of our soul. The One to whom we belong, always. He gives us our worth. Our talents. Our gifts. He has a plan for our lives, and it is beautiful. Before we were born, he knew us.

When you began self-medicating, my young friend, your problems weren't solved.

The real ones have just begun.

Choosing a drug that changes your personality, or your perception of reality, to make life seem better than it is, is the beginning of a long heartache--yours, and your family's.

The first and most pervasive problem is denial. You will keep convincing yourself that you can stop this at any time, but all the while, you are reinforcing for your brain that the answer to negative feelings is to reach for the medication. It will give you an escape; it will become a knee-jerk reaction that you give little thought to after a while.

While using it, you can deny your pain, and deny your dysfunctional response to pain.

How will it affect your life?

When you become romantically attached to someone, it will be to an unhealthy enabler. She will bring baggage and have her own problems to add to yours. All healthy girls will know better than to date a drug user. As long as you keep your self-medicating ways, you are marked--for unhealthy liaisons.

Have plans for children later on? They will grow up trying to love you, but it will be so hard, what with all the pain you'll cause them. Your kids may grow up just like you. Addicts. Or they're marry addicts and prolong the pain you started. And your grandchildren? Do you think your kids will even want them exposed to you? Your family's love for you will be more like pity. In fact, all the love anyone has for you will be more like pity. Self-medicating people are pitiful, not lovable. They're too selfish to be lovable.

Down the line, all you'll love is your drug. It will be your baby. Your sweetheart. You'll do anything for it. You'll dream of it. Lust after it. Scheme ways to get it; plan ways to hide it.

You'll be disgusting.

Sooner or later you will anger or disappoint just about everybody, and only your most loyal enablers--the ones who are the most sick themselves--will still be with you.

So, what is the alternative for you? Is there an alternative?

Learn the rhythms of life and do not fear them. Life is neither all good nor all bad. Neither all beautiful nor all ugly. You will know joy and sorrow. Happiness and sadness. Pain and pleasure. You will walk through valleys and over peaks, and with you always will be the Lord your God, who is mighty to save. He will never leave you nor forsake you. In your worst hour, in your best hour, he will be there--not to remove your worst hour, or prolong your best, but to offer his Presence.  To share his Joy. To quiet you with his Love. To fill you with his Peace. 

He comforts you here and glorifies you in heaven. You're covered, down here and up there. And you get to work for him here in glorious ways, being part of miracles, if only you'll trust him.

Embrace life, in all its imperfection. Don't run. Don't hide. Don't cower. Trust the Lord your God, Author of the Universe, to give you a soul high. A lasting joy that comes from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Please pray? Dear Lord, forgive me. I love you. I want to embrace this life you've given me. Help me to be strong and courageous. Help me to trust you with my troubles and my pain. Teach me to come to you in my sorrow. Teach me to lay my burdens down before you. Teach me to value each day as a gift. Help me to view these days of social angst in light of all my years. Help me to draw close to my family and love them well. Transform my heart. Make me your servant. In Jesus' name, Amen.


Amber said...

Great post. I hope others read this and can pass it along to those who need to hear these words.

I have family members that struggle with drugs and it has been many years now, all of which started with the simple use of pot as a young teen.

Their daily struggles are nothing they ever expected or planned. It's a downward spiral from the get go. A path that is one that can be re-directed and learned from. Healing and moving forward positively is possible, with God's help.

I've missed your blog. Hope you all are doing well.

Christine said...

Amber, first of all, I'm thrilled to see your name here! I never know why someone disappears from the blog world, and I always hope all is well, and never want to intrude on their quiet time away. Quiet time away is so essential sometimes. But I am so glad to discourse with you once again. I am sorry some in your family know at least some of this story all too well. It is so tragic.

We are keeping on here...busy with schooling and babysitting a neighbor boy every Tues and Thur evening from 4 to 9:30 or 10:00. The kids are wondering where the snow is. We had a lot early for a few days in Nov, and then nothing for quite a while. We hope for some tonight.

How are things in CO?