Occasionally I stumble across a column or an article so good I must stop and read it again, twice, three times, maybe a fourth time even. Although I’ve always been a fan, I feel certain Angela Turner might have poured her heart into her very best work last week. I cried. I clapped my hands. I ran into the living room and demanded my husband stop everything he was doing and read it right away. It was fantastic.
Angela has often encouraged me to be brave, to develop tough skin, because God gave me a voice and I best use it. She’s the type of woman I admire for several reasons, her strength being one. She chose to make Appalachia her home and she’s proud of it. She believes in the region, she invests in it, and she relates to it. Addiction has impacted her life firsthand. The “cancer” that erodes the mountains of south eastern Kentucky is one she understands.
As September comes to an end, Recovery Month concludes as well. I want to applaud my colleague on her raw honesty when addressing an issue so many avoid. The truth of the matter is, its real. Addiction and alcoholism exist, and effect millions daily.
So, with all of that said, I would like to challenge my home community to take a long hard look at how things are, and how things could be? I feel like there is a crisis of belief almost in terms of recovery in general. There is almost an attitude of “this is just how it is, and how it’s always going to be..” but – what if that wasn’t true?
I remember several years back when I approached my dad’s church about starting a faith-based recovery program hosted by the church. Scared and intimidated I went forward with the help of close friends who attended our church who had faced battles and had won. That meeting, which still exists today was one of the only meetings in Williamsburg aside from a few others. I’m still baffled as to why more people don’t get involved. Then I’m reminded, of the “this is the way its always been” mentality.
For a town, a community, an entire county ravished by substance abuse why are more folks concerned with novel things? There are neighbors, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers falling to the wayside daily. I’m convinced it’s easier for some to kill off the wounded than attempt to rescue them and a band aid will not heal a bullet wound.
I understand that “John Doe” is a thief and a liar and addicted to pain pills, but “John Doe” is also someone’s son.
My daddy often tells stories while preaching sermons. One of my favorites is when he speaks of how neighbors years ago would put up each other’s hay if one family was going through a hard time. I’m not sure when we lost sight of this concept, but there are plenty of families struggling, lost, bewildered all the while substance abuse steals their loved ones. Maybe it’s time for some to help put up some “hay” and reassure them they aren’t alone.
Get involved. Ask questions. Keep an open mind and an open heart. Nothing changes if nothing changes. Instead of bickering over the nature of drug addiction, support those who choose to combat it, and pray for those who are bitter and hurt.
Be the change. Hold on to belief through the crisis. YOU have the power to help your community recover. Be brave like my sweet friend Angela, and so many others. Invest in someone or something that you might not necessarily understand, there are so many who never got to see that side of my hometown. They lost the battle well before the reserve troops stormed in.
You are a strong-willed people, with endless possibilities, lest you ever forget. You never know how much you can accomplish by trying, someone’s life could depend on it.