I’m Jeannette George, and this is more of how I’ve been living deeply the past few years.
My daughter Amanda began dabbling with drugs in high school. She was an adventurous spirit; wanting to feel good and escape the pain of life. In 2020, well into adulthood, a ‘friend’ introduced her to harder drugs- meth and heroin. A heroin addiction developed and spiraled. Amanda was isolating herself, not letting me go upstairs into her apartment, and my grandkids -her children, Dayton and Kayleigh- were acting out and angry. Dayton and Kayleigh were truly loved in Amanda’s way of loving them at the time, but not truly cared for. They were sneaking food into their room while their mom was passed out in the bedroom. As all this was going on, Amanda expressed an interest in starting fresh in life. So I proposed to her, ‘Why don’t you just let the kids come and stay with me?’ She agreed. The kids came to live with me in February of 2020. Amanda, a genuinely loving mother amid her struggles, would call and Facetime to see how they were doing. But as spring came and then summer, it was clear things were getting worse for Amanda. Every time we’d go and meet with her, she’d say she wasn’t feeling great or would be shaking. I started to connect the dots and realized she was using harder drugs. It got to a point where Kayleigh and Dayton didn’t want to go see Mommy anymore. In mid-summer 2020, I learned from Amanda that first responders had revived her from overdoses about five times just in the few months I’d been keeping her kids. After that conversation with her, I asked God to give me the wisdom and the words, because I’d decided I was going to talk to her about getting official custody of the kids. So many people were praying for me! At the end of the month, I messaged her, suggesting my having custody would be the best thing for the kids. Again, she agreed. Fast forward almost two years, and today there are real signs of hope. From what Amanda has said and what I have seen recently, she has been clean for about four months now. I’m proud of how she’s battled and prayerful it continues.
If you’re in this sort of traumatic situation, don’t lose hope. There’s always joy to be found in the midst of the bitterness, sorrow and hurting because God promises to show up in it all. So believe God’s promises for you. Attach your own name to it as you read His promises to never leave you or forsake you. Make it personal. That’s easier said than done sometimes. And that’s okay- to struggle. God has used my trials in many redemptive ways, especially in my roles as a Stephen Minister and as CSPC Caring Ministry Coordinator. Everybody’s hurting in some way. Being present -standing next to the hurting person- echoes Jesus’s ministry, because Jesus is always present. So in that atmosphere with the Stephen Ministry, hurting people begin to trust and open up. They start telling you things they wouldn’t even tell their best friend or spouse. When you’re a Stephen Minister, you’re giving Jesus skin as you stand with these people. Only Christ can heal -that’s not up to us- and in these relationships, God shows up. Empathy is one thing I’m able to convey because of all my own hard life experiences (death of my husband Tim at age 55, loss of my 4-year-old grandson, Amanda’s struggles). When you’ve gone through different types and levels of trauma, you just love people where they are. You realize it’s a brave thing when someone reaches out and says, ‘I need help.’ There’s no judgment; no sense of saying words or giving advice that will solve things. You’re just there listening and being present, because God’s at work in that sense of presence. When people are hurting, they want to be heard. It’s helpful, when people feel like they’re the only ones experiencing pain and agony, to know others are also going through it or have gone through it. It’s great comfort knowing they’re not alone; that they truly are loved and cared for. This is how I’ve been loved, by the way. When you’re on staff at CSPC, you can’t just hide and run away. When Tim died and I went back to work, a day didn’t go by without someone coming to my office and checking in on me. They were pursuing me and making sure I was good, just like God does; giving Jesus skin. That’s what Christians do.