1 John 4:8
8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
I had recently spoken to a man named Quaid. He is an alcoholic and he was trying to determine why he had recently relapsed. He told me adamantly that he wasn’t a Christian, but that he was actually far from it – he was a Pagan. He continued to say that he respected my views as a Christian and that all religions, in his view, follow the same viewpoints, just from different perspectives. I intern, respect his views and only desired to hear his struggle with relapse and possibly offer suggestions. Being no expert on Paganism, I had to do some careful research in order to offer any suggestion. I did, however, find myself caring and taking it on personally. I wanted to ensure I didn’t cause confusion which might add to his relapse struggle.
To start, I had to understand what the definition of Pagan was. I found that it simply means a person holding religious beliefs other than those of the main world religions. The synonyms (heathen, idolater, infidel) stir up negativity to me and interestingly enough, “heathen” has Christian roots. I don’t like titles like that, so I am going to make myself feel better and say that Quaid just holds different beliefs than myself. Most people do!
Next, I wanted to know if Quaid had realized what brought on the relapse in the first place; the catalyst. He responded by telling me about his profession and some of the frustrations he has encountered. He is a caregiver to the elderly, which I find very honorable. As many of us follow in our parent’s footsteps, he began as a youth after school, sitting with his Mom who was a nurse and in his own words “interacting” with the residents at a nursing facility. Quaid went on to explain that now, as an adult in the profession, he sees situations of abuse and neglect carried out in his field by other caregivers and he is so passionate about the residents that he courageously reports the instances to his superiors. That is a valiant thing to do – and the right thing to do. He goes on to say that nothing gets done about it, his complaints are ignored, and it has brought him to the point of disliking and even changing his career path. So much so that he said, “Oh Gods, I wish I could this instant”. Quaid finishes by telling me that when he sees something wrong, He tries everything in his power to do something right. He can’t just sit idle, letting things happen. That has NEVER been him. He speaks up despite the trouble it may lead to, but with his alcoholism, his temper flares. He calls it passion.
I haven’t had a chance to talk more with Quaid and I am glad to have the time to reflect on his issue. This gives me time to study and hopefully offer a decent response to him.
While telling me the beginning of his story, I found a few details curious. First that he used the words “interacting, passionate, in his power, and Gods”. “Gods” in the plural sense. Everything about his story (besides alcohol) screams love. He loves the residents enough to stand up and fight for them. He loves them so much that in his confused way of thinking, that he is drinking to quell the anger and frustration of mistreatment of people. Yes, he is only hurting himself, but we all may be guilty of that charge at times.
Myself being a sinning Christian winced at the plural use of God, but dissecting his story to try and establish a root cause, it dawned on me that love was his motive. That I can relate to with my God. God is love, so maybe Quaid can take the “s” off of the gods he believes in. At a minimum, this will make things less confusing to him. Secondly, a career change at the reasoning of others wrong doings essentially makes the wrongdoers Quaid’s god. He would be allowing his gods of neglect and abuse to others win and direct his future. Ironic. Alcohol is temporarily one of Quaid’s other gods as well. That’s a lot of gods to juggle.
My God today is love. I learned the hard way that I can’t have more than one. If I continue to love – including myself and others – this will be all I can handle and I won’t have time for a relapse.
Love you, Quaid.
Comments welcomed. Have a great Valentines Day!