I also had an addiction. It isn't the kind of seedy addiction you are expecting in this confession. I am a speed addict, but by that I mean I was addicted to high caffeine drinks and diet pills. I used them to maintain all the good I was. I wanted the good grades, the praise for my accomplishments in theater, and the spending money from the job to look the fashion of the world around me. I wanted all this, and all the praise I got at church and from my family for being such the good kid. So I took diet pills, and slammed them down with super caffeinated beverages. Still, I was a good kid.
In my mind, at that time, I would have never called myself an addict. In fact, I thought I was the very model of youth perfection. I had it all together, I was the kind of kid other parents used to shame their own. I was proud of my life, my accomplishments, my faith, my perfection.
The minister at the church I spoke at on Sunday came out after my message and asked me how to connect the principles of my message to the people who have never done anything really bad. I found this to be an intriguing question, since had you asked me even the day before I was forced to face my depravity, I would have surely let you know I was that person.
Then came that lunchtime where I faced my blackness. Between the work of advanced placement classes the production we were working on for theater, my job at the movie theater, and watching late night television; I was not sleeping. Adding to that stress, I was out of money, and therefore had not purchased my daily supply of diet pills and Nitro. I was strung out and stressed out. Sitting at the table behind me was a mentally disabled student who laughed incessantly the entire lunch period. The laughter grated against my strung out nerves like nails on a chalkboard. After twenty minutes of this I could not take another moment. I grabbed the closest metal utensil to me, and proceeded to propel it backward to stab him in the back. As the fork and my hand flew toward his back, one of my table mates grabbed my arm, and stopped in midswing I dropped the fork to the ground.
I sat, stunned with a groundswell of shame and guilt. There was nothing in this moment that looked respectable, admirable, or in control. I had tried to injure a person most of society strives to protect. In one moment, I stood toe to toe with my depravity. I stood face to face with what my need to be the model of the good kid had led to. I looked as pitch black and broken as all the people who lives looked very different than my own. One second difference in my life, and I would have been on my way to juvie.
My addiction was respectable, in fact my entire catalog of addictions were encouraged. Yet here I stood in their wake with nothing to cling to. The grades, honors, clothing, church standing, parental approval it all meant nothing as I looked at the depth of brokenness I held inside me.
The "good kid" looks good because he has spent his entire life building a castle of cards on the praise of men. The "good kid" looks honorable because everything he does revolves around holding onto that honor.
Luke 10:39-41 Then the Lord said to him,
“You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness! Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside? So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over.