Quote of the Week

"If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way" ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Turn of a Phrase
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It was Sunday and I was visiting with my daughter J. at a half way house. The sun was warm, the weather was trying to decide if it was fall or summer and we were on the smoking deck outside. This place has been just one of many stops for her in the last 4 years as she tries again to arrest the drug induced downward slide of her life.

She had gone to church with some other women from the house that morning and our conversation somehow came around to how powerful words are. . .

. . .and how God used words to speak the world into being. I took the opportunity to talk to her about the importance of affirming self-talk.

Later, another young women came out to the smoking deck and told J. that she had just got word that two of her friends had overdosed. She said “.it should have been me..”. J nodded in agreement and echoed her words as if it was a ritualistic chant. After some hugs and lots of crying between day old friends who have years with the same struggles I pointed out to J. that there is no reason it should have been her and how saying so is not healthy. She seemed to understand, or at least her eyes sparked as she ran to comfort the other women.

So words are important. We all cringe when we hear “just marijuana”. Maybe we have to remind each other that the sentence “It was just marijuana that killed my child.” is a real possibility. I know that is harsh but how else to get the words right?

To appreciate the words we have to listen carefully and speak carefully. Look how different “relapse is part of recovery” is from the Lloyd Woodward version of “the consequences of relapse are part of recovery”. Or “this disease ends in jails, institutions or death” compared to “this disease ends in recovery, jails, institutions or death”.

I had come to believe that saying anything to J. would not help her with her struggles. It has never worked and all the platitudes, heart to heart talks, and emotional threats seem useless against such a huge problem. But when I hear Lloyd talk about our overall strategy of “buying clean time and waiting for a miracle” (miracle, now there is a word!) I have come back to the idea that the words, the right words, words with lots of thought and lots of love can be very powerful when spoken or prayed.

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