[O]nce upon a time four brave young men from different worlds came together to fight a common enemy.  One man hailed from Tennessee.  He was a good ol” boy with the all the southern charm he needed to make you believe his every lie.  The next man blew in from the windy city of Chicago.  He was all city with the heart of a dark poet. His pursuit of darkness was enough to attract all the wrong people.  The third was right off the street.  He had the swagger he needed to live tough and hard amongst the gangs of the border towns of LA County. Our last young man at first glance had the appearance of an angel. His conservative image from growing up in church was only surpassed by the dark secret he kept so close to his chest…

As we conclude our story, The Good ol’ boy “D”, and angelic “B”, have a year of sobriety under their belts and the sun is shining on their kingdom.  Chicago’s own “J” retreated to his hometown and found that he could not slay his demons alone, so he has since returned to sunny Orange County to gain the aid of his companions for one more shot at the dragon that wants to take him down into darkness.  Home Boy “S” was making a go of it in a new town, away from the temptations of his home turf.  With the help of Joy Squared, he completed thirty days or treatment, completed his classes, knocked his Community Service down to a conquerable size, and was set up in a room in a nearby castle.

Happy ending may be great in a children’s book, but we don’t always see them in real life. Let’s face it, this has always been S’s story, and it is certainly not a fairytale.  He has lived a pretty gruesome life, and has endured things that I can only imagine on my worst days.  Try as we might, sometimes things don’t turn out the way we want of hoped.  The good news is that everything turns out the way God wants them.  We are part of His plan and he always knows best what is best for us.

At this point in the story, S has completed his 30-day treatment at Just One Recovery.  As mentioned in the last chapter, he had met with Scott, Dan, and me, and we discerned that Joy Squared would come alongside S to help him be a success.  There were elements in the agreement that we would do, and that S was responsible for.  One part was the S would be drug tested regularly.  It is not that we didn’t trust him as much as we wanted him to learn accountability to someone else.  (Addicts have a tendency to isolate when they are using so we somewhat forced S’s hand that he would have to connect with us.) The first thirty days went well as planned.  He had his classes and community service hours transferred to Orange County and had completed all but four days of service.  (His service was picking up trash in a local cemetery).

I was a little worried when I went to the Just One house for a Bible study and to give S his next installment for rent and misc expenses. S decided not to come to the house that night and wanted to just hang at home. It wasn’t until the next afternoon that my fears became real.  I was Play online Blackjack at 888. sitting down about the take the first bite of my lunch when I received a call from S.  The connection was not clear and I was hoping I did not hear correctly.  S had just taken his required drug test and it was positive for opiates.  He took a second test just to make sure and the results were the same.  He had the rent money in his hand and wasn’t sure what he should do. If he was actively using, he could not stay at Just One, and without the rent money he would be back on the streets in a few days. I made the decision to let him pay his rent. The last thing he needed was to be back on the street, although he said he’s been there before and he could do it again.

Over the course of the next few hours I spoke to Jamie, B and D, Dan and finally Scott.  Every one of them had a lot more experience dealing with addicts and could be a better lie detector than I ever could.  Each one of them had a similar thought.  None of them would be surprised that medicinesfinder he had been using; not because he was not trustworthy, but because he is an addict and addiction is very strong adversary.  It was decided that as of that moment we would let him stay in his rental room for April, hoping that he would complete his community service and try to get employment that would allow him to stay, but that was the last financial support Joy Squared would be giving him.

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I was torn up inside.  I so wanted to believe S, but all things pointed to him using.  The thing that really bothered me was that S didn’t seem to want to fight the charges.  I fought for him to be where he was, why didn’t he fight for himself?  He was texting me, that his mind was spinning, that he didn’t know where to get any drugs in OC, and the he wasn’t trying to “do us dirty.”  But never did he say he did not use.  Someone said, even if he admitted it and asked for forgiveness it would be easier to continue to help him. I went to bed that night praying for wisdom and strength.  I even had some good friends praying for me. I know God has a plan; I just needed to see it and what the outcome would be for S, me, and Joy Squared. I needed a happily ever after.

I was still in a funk the next day when I got a text form D then a call from Jamie that they were taking S top a clinic to have a (more accurate) blood test done. Four hours later, I got word that the initial test came back negative, and the more conclusive results would not be available until after the weekend. There once again was a glimmer of hope.  It might be a real Good Friday after all.  I went over in my mind the research I had done the day before as to what could cause a false positive in a drug test.  Maybe God just wanted to get S’s attention, knowing that he was starting to isolate and being primed for another fall.  Whatever it was, I was going to hang on tight and pray for the best.

A little after 10 that night, I decided to see how S was doing so I texted him. I’m glad I did because as a pastor, what came through in his texts grieved me terribly.  Basically he said, he didn’t know why this was happening to him. He felt God was out to get him.  He had done some awful things in his life and God was not allowing anything good to happen in his life until he made up for all the bad. Being Easter, I was hopefully able to help him see that all that negativity was coming from the enemy, not God.  God loves us so much that He was willing to suffer a horrible death so he could take on our sins, no matter how big we perceive them to be. (See Romans 5:8 and 8:1) By rising from death he made it possible for us to have eternal life with him.  God knows everything we have done and are going to do.  Even though we continue to sin and make wrong choices.  HE STILL LOVES US! (See Romans 8:38& 39)

I was waiting through most of the Easter weekend until I contacted S again.  I wanted to give him time to really think about his situation and maybe come to a better conclusion. On Sunday evening, I texted him Happy Easter, and asked how he was doing.  That started a two-hour long back and forth between him and me that I won’t bore you with here.  Basically S decided to leave OC and go back home.  He left his room without telling his landlords, he left his remaining community service, he left his support from Joy Squared, and although I can’t say for sure that he had been using, his dialogue was very close to the messages I received which started his story back to rehab.  He apologized for “F***ing” up and wanted us to know again he didn’t mean to “do us dirty.”  I was extremely sad. But more, I was feeling foolish. Had I been duped by this kid?  Had I (and Joy Squared) been totally taken advantage of?  At this point, I may never know.

I did feel better talking to D and to Jamie at Just One.  D reminded me that for a true addict, staying sober is the exception, not the norm.  And it was very unlikely for someone to run if he knew his test would come back clean. Jamie, who has been dealing with these kinds of issues for many years, reminded me that we can’t get too attached to the outcome.  As long as we gave the opportunity and just love the addict (in a kind or tough way) it is really about their choices.

Do I think S started out thinking he would use again and screw us all?  Absolutely not. Bottom line he is an addict. All I can do is continue to love him and remind him that he’s got God on his side as well.  Maybe someday, we will both get the happily ever after we so badly wanted…but life is not a fairytale.  God, however, is writing an amazing life story for all of us, and we are blessed to play our parts.