How does a 7-year-old little girl change the trajectory of a family’s life?
We have all seen it happen with an unfortunate illness or worse yet an all too early death. We have witnessed it with a special needs child and the ups and downs of that experience. Maybe we have seen it when that same little girl loses her best friend who just happens to be a cat, or dog, and maybe even a classmate. There are many ways in which the life and the experiences of little girls can shape who we are as people and who we become as families.
How about from negative experiences that are somehow made to be good? I wonder if a little girls positive attributes learned along the way can transform a family’s life. How about from what was learned in her own recovery process? A process that involved living between two homes of each struggling parents, of pain, hurt, isolation, and I am certain some anger, anxiety, and resentment were sprinkled in there as well - - a perfect storm to foster a wounded child and all the issues that come with childhood trauma. There was nothing wrong with this little girl she just had lots happen around her.
This little girl was shuffled between houses and parenting styles. From the comfort and safety at life with her mom to the unpredictable and chaotic lifestyle of her Dad - - Her Dad the fun one, the do everything in one weekend Dad, go…go…go…do…do…do…makeup…makeup…makeup… for all the lost time an every other weekend Dad does. A Dad who struggled to stay sober only on every other weekends - - the rest of the days that same Dad struggled to make sure he was properly high - - all the time and every single day.
That same Dad who so wanted to stay sober for his daughter, his sons, and sometimes even for himself - - but, how? He didn’t know how. He tried all kinds of treatment. He attempted every group out there. AA and NA and CR and on and on… I think he may have even tried hypnosis a time or two - - although that could have been the drugs… he says he doesn’t recall.
That Dad fought this battle for many years until he was ready to throw in the cards and quit on everything and everybody - - not quit using - - that is too hard. Just quit living and be done - - that would be much easier. But, he didn’t - - rather he couldn’t pull the trigger on his life or that gun. Why? He will tell you he still doesn’t know. He likes to look back now and think it was for his daughter but that is just him attempting to rewrite a part of the story to sound good to y’all. Truth is he wanted to die, and he couldn’t even get that right - - that is when you know addiction has taken your last breath of hope and you are already as good as dead.
As fate would have it all this came to a head about the same time that this Dad was shipped off to prison. Another week in his hell and he might not have made it. He was two stones below rock bottom and still holding the shovel.
IN WALKS JESUS and that same Dad - - that absent, lonely, isolated, and addicted Dad - - that Dad who was in prison and disconnected from the world started to surrender. He started to pray. He started to repent. He started to cry and feel pain and that pain felt good - - after years of feeling nothing that Dad said even pain felt good. That pain even laughed at times. Who has pain that laughs?
IN WALKS JESUS and that same little girl started to write her Dad and draw and color pictures for her Dad. She pursued, loved, cared, encouraged, and fought for her Dad - - even when her Dad had no fight left in him. She talked to her Dad all the time and on the bottom of EVERY card, letter, or piece of artwork she wrote, “I love you so much and I can’t wait until you are back.” That Dad wasn’t the best Dad, and most would say he wasn’t a good dad. But that Dad loved his little girl - - he just could never beat his addiction long enough to show it on more than every other weekend.
IN WALKS JESUS and that same little girl and same Dad got to spend an hour and ½ together twice a month and they hugged and laughed and told stories and ate yummy vending machine food.
IN WALKS JESUS and that little girl was used to help reunite a family. She had been through it AND never gave up. She was hurt(ing) but never stopped loving her Dad. No 7-year-old daughter should have to visit her Dad in prison, but she loved to do it.
Fast forward to today and that little girl and her Dad are still in recovery - - as is the rest of their family. Fast forward to now and the picture on top of this blog is how that same 7-year-old wounded little girl describes herself today at 10 years old. She has been through it and she has learned much by going through recovery with her Dad.
Here is the skinny: We do recover. We can rewrite our story. We can heal. We can begin again. We did and so can you. All you have to do is let Jesus walk through the door….
Avery, Daddy loves you.
If you’re struggling, it’s okay help is only a prayer away.