I have an amazing friend who’s battled stage 4 cancer for 6 years! Even when all her tumors shrunk in size and most disappeared, she was still called “Stage 4.” One time I got my nerve up and asked her, “Don’t they ever down-grade you?” She looked at me through these very wise-from-all-she’s-been-through eyes, and said, “Now, Anna, do we really need some doctor to tell me I’m being healed? God does not need man’s labels.” Wow, what faith and what an attitude! I saw something that day that I wanted. It was a sort of living beyond this world.
As I’ve mentioned before our son has an addiction. As parents of a young teen, (2 & 1/2 years ago) David and I only knew our child needed help beyond our ability and so we desperately sought professional intervention. In so doing, came labels and diagnosis and terms like “forever” and “always.” Those are hard words to hear about your child. Our believed our job was to love, carefully nurture and watch our 5 little ones grow… then everything would work out. They would graduate highschool, seek independence, and become self-sustaining. Where had we gone wrong? We even homeschooled for heaven’s sake!
Although we couldn’t bring ourselves to call our child an addict, after long introspective evaluation, he did. I decided I didn’t like labels. Then I remembered, “I’m a sinner saved by grace.” I like that one. I’m called, chosen, accepted, loved-dearly, blessed… and I really like all those too. I think my problem came from words that sounded hopeless to me. But wasn’t that what my enduring friend taught me? That there’s a difference between man’s labels and God’s labels? The labels God gives us are always full of hope.
When my son calls himself an addict he doesn’t look at it in a hope-less sense. He has learned which actions and behaviors cause him trouble; and which decisions bring him life. He uses “addict” as a guide for his own good. Yes, God has healed him in so many ways. Will he forever be cautiously aware of some potential weakness inside him and take measures to stay accountable against it? Yes. And so should we all against our own weaknesses. Does it mean doom and gloom and an ugly name tag on his chest- NO WAY!
I am so proud of all our young man’s hard work and his 910 days of sobriety! I praise God daily for all that He is doing in our family. I will not worry over the future. I have learned It’s what I do with today that matters the most. Today, I will be thankful and celebrate my son’s sobriety. I choose God’s label: “work in progress.”
“But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of His great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in Him and receive eternal life.” 1 Timothy 1:16