When I Missed My Daughter’s Birthday
If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. John 12:47
I missed my daughter’s 12th birthday, not for any valiant reason, but because I was in treatment. When I entered treatment, I made it my goal to be out by her birthday, but I soon realized that my discharge date was going to be two days too late. I tried to manipulate my way into an early release but failed. In my failure, I became bitter and angry at those who were keeping me locked up. You did this to me. The truth of course, was not that this was anyone else’s fault. I missed her birthday because I was an addict and I was in treatment. Though I couldn’t see it at the time, I was the only one to blame.
I’ve often encountered this sort of blame in dealing with other addicts. If you don’t give me the pills I want, I’m going to have to go buy heroin on the street. That will be your fault. It’s a ridiculous accusation, but it makes sense to the one saying it at the time.
Many of us have done this. Instead of facing the truth – that we’re to blame for the mess we’ve made – we deflect, blaming anyone and everyone around us. It’s your fault I’m angry. I only drink because my job is so stressful. If you were a better spouse, I wouldn’t look for satisfaction elsewhere.
In my own addiction, I blamed God. You did this to me. In today’s passage though, Jesus said that he didn’t come to judge us, but to save us. Perhaps God allowed us to be born with self-destructive natures, but he’s also provided our salvation. Jesus said that in rejecting his path, we’re judged by the truth that he’s spoken. If we follow our way instead of Christ’s, we’ve chosen destruction and we’ve no one to blame but ourselves.
Several months after treatment, when my name hit the paper for my addiction, I was finally ready to accept responsibility. There were those who were angry at the newspaper for me, but I knew that they hadn’t done this to me. I’d done it to me. It’s only when I take responsibility for my own self-destruction, that I can abandon it and follow Christ to find eternal, authentic life.