Thursday, September 10, 2009

The boy and the dragon.

So there's this guy.

He's been hanging around West Dallas as long as we have - clearly an addict. He panhandles on the same corners, gets high in the same traps, and sleeps wherever the drugs lead him. Wherever they leave him.

Several of the Mercy Street staff have had encounters with him -given him rides, paid him for pumping gas, shook his hand, looked him in the eye.

The kids and I see him a lot on our way home from school and started praying for him every day. We didn't know his name so we called him the West Dallas White Guy because, well, that pretty much summed it up.

He has sandy blonde hair, sky-blue eyes, and, I discovered yesterday, looks directly at you when he's speaking. I bought him a drink at the nearby Taco Bell where he was hanging out and asked his name. It's Eric.

He's been on the streets of West Dallas for six years. His family lives in Irving and he got his G.E.D. in prison. He's 22.

I asked him if he wanted to get clean and he was painfully honest in his reply.

"No, ma'am, I don't."

"What are you on?"

"Heroin, ma'am."

"Eric, it's gonna kill you."

"Yes, ma'am."

Later, I was talking to one of the guys on staff who runs into him fairly often. He's had the same conversation with Eric but got a longer explanation than I did in the parking lot. Eric said, "I know this will kill me, but the people who know me, my friends, will say I died doing what I loved. I love it."

And I'm pretty sure he knows it doesn't love him back.

His honesty was the opposite of what I expected. He wasn't trying to manipulate me or tell me what I wanted to hear. And he's answered these questions before.

He's been beaten up pretty bad sometime over the last week and is now running with another guy who was so high the last time I saw him he was on all fours licking the sidewalk. I asked Eric about his friend, the other white guy I see him with.

"No, ma'am, that's not my friend. That's my brother."

Trey explained to me that heroin is so, so addictive because the high you get the first time almost impossible to recreate. You want that high so badly you just take more of the drug until, eventually, it kills you. It's what they call 'chasing the dragon'.

I look at this kid, chasing the dragon, loving a drug that is killing him, and see he might have once been a little toe-headed kid swinging in the backyard. He might have played on the baseball team, and his momma might have gotten that lump in her throat when her boy, both of her boys, started Kindergarten. He might have liked grilled cheese sandwiches with the crusts cut off, been scared of the dark, and asked, in June, how many days until Christmas. They might have wrestled too hard, shouted too loud, played too rough. They might have gone through a box of band-aids a week like we do.

Perhaps that wasn't their experience at all. Perhaps it was more of the nightmare variety that we cringe at, turn our faces from, change the channel.

We're still praying for him, only now by name - and now for both he and his brother.

And praying that the words of David Crowder might cut through the nightmare they're in and defeat the dragon once and for all.

"He is jealous for me.
Love's like a hurricane, I am a tree.
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy."

29 comments:

allthingsjuice said...

Beautifully written and an important story. I never understook the power of drugs until I read The Corner by David Simon. It seems so impossible to defeat. I'm so greatful we have a God that is bigger than any dragon.

Deidra said...

I'm stopped dead in my tracks by this. In PA I knew a guy like Eric. He had broken his leg and was in a wheelchair, nose filled with snot and fast asleep at the bus stop. I kept seeing him and praying for him and finally I met him and his story was much the same. It never fails to make me wonder why not me? And so I pray some more, and cry and then I carry on. Bearing his burdens to the foot of the cross, along with my own...

Jill said...

"Yes mam, He's my brother." was the point at which the tears fell. Thank you for your perspective. This could be my brother. You description was dead on. Keep praying. The lessons learned about choices will be another one for your young ones...they seem to be for mine, and for me too!

Laurie M said...

Thank you for once again allowing us to see great needs and great hurts through your lense. Keep the stories coming. Please, continue to remind us that it isn't all about us.

Sue said...

My heart breaks for the tragedy that is Eric's life. I'm so glad that he has at least met in his life people who love him enough to ask him those questions, pray for him and love him despite his destructive behavior.

Reading your beautifully written post, I get so angry at the enemy. He makes that first time with heroine such a high that it can't be duplicated. Just like him to suck them in and then use and abuse them. Grrr.

Thanks for sharing this. I will now try & remember to pray for Eric and his brother too (and the many others hooked on this evil drug).

The Niemeyer Nest said...

Very powerful! Thank you for the great story. I often wonder what I can do to help people and you showed me that it is as easy getting them a drink. My fear of being hurt gets in the way of my desire to help others. Eric will be in my prayers.

Candy said...

Jesus Christ has slain the dragon on the cross. I pray that Eric will find that to be true and find that the love of Jesus is a lasting and greater high than any drug holds out in its deception.

Thanks, Melissa, for making us all think.

Candy

Henley on the Horn said...

Wow. Thank you for sharing. I can't tell you how much I look forward to reading your blog. I am never disappointed. Sometimes I laugh out loud, and sometimes I grieve at the frailty of human life without God. You always point us to the cross. God's work in your life challenges me to depend on Him more. I am constantly reminded that I can't do it on my own. Neither can Eric. We all join you in praying for him!

Traci said...

Wow- this is awesome. We'll pray too.

These Three Kings said...

Praying for Eric...I loooong to hear of the day that His name is written in the Lambs' Book Of Life!
I know JESUS CAN DO THIS...I pray in FAITH and wait in expectation....

thanks you for sharing

ashley smith said...

wow..thank you so much for sharing. what work we need to in the name of Jesus. we will pray for those boys and their family as well as for you all. you all are doing amazing work...

Heather said...

Thanks for sharing this, praying for him and for you! So grateful for the God we serve and that He is bigger than anything in this life.

and 2 became 5 said...

i read in proverbs the other night about the charge to speak up for people. thank you for being their voice so that we can NOT look away & indeed join you in praying for eric & his brother. and for you & your family.

Totally Desperate Mom said...

I read this and cried. And then I thought of Jon Foreman's song "Somebody's Baby Girl." Here are the lyrics: http://tiny.cc/D0Aa3

Casey (@ Ever-Changing Life) said...

I have an uncle like this, it really is nothing more than chase. Never satisfied, always longing. We, of course know the only thing that fills that void, but it's hard. It's hard to watch them go down, it's hard to watch him steal from my grandmother, it's hard to watch him yell at my dad. You hit it right on the nose- prayer. It's the best weapon we have.

Holli said...

now praying for Eric and his brother too.....

Grateful for Grace said...

OH, I'm weeping. Weeping for the person Eric (and his brother) might have been. For the possibilities "eaten by locusts".

I'll start praying for Eric now (and his brother). For the only miracle that can save him. The Miracle Maker.

Sigh. How very heartbreaking.

The thing that came to mind, though, is that every lost person has a dragon. True, it's not as obvious as the one Eric chases, but a dragon none the less. Whether it be the love of money, the love of self, the knowledge of man, or something else, those loves lead to death. They do not offer a satisfying life here on earth or eternal life. They do not love back. They kill.

Praying for all of those still chasing their dragons and thanking God He helped me see mine.

Anonymous said...

That cut to the core of my heart. As we have had to battle this dragon in our own family members and have one currently battling addiction of pain pills and whatever else fills the void in their life at that moment. We will be praying for Eric and his brother...Thanks for being so bold to approach him and offer a drink and some words of love and truth! We all need to be so bold.

XO
Tracie

emily said...

How He Loves is my song with Abey, such great truth in it. So sad to hear about Eric, the love of his life and how you said "pretty sure it doesn't love him back!" wow.

Caroline said...

Your post has been heavy on my heart, friend. Praying today for Eric and his brother, and for you guys as you pursue and love him with the love of Christ!

Karin Katherine said...

I am once again floored by your post. It isn't easy to look at the addicts and the bums on the street and think of them as some mother's child...not much different from our own children.

How I pray I will never have to know the hurt of a mother whose child is off chasing a dragon.

Angela said...

Man, Melissa, you've got me crying over here! I will be praying for them!

J.J. said...

I really enjoyed reading this post. Thanks for the perspective. I think about various adults that I encounter and think of them as someone's little baby. Great post.

Kara said...

This hits close to the heart for me. I watched my dear cousin chase the dragon for many, many years. Just when he finally had it kicked, he passed away of a totally unrelated cause (although a week immune system from years of drug abuse probably contributed). He wasn't even 40 years old. He was such an awesome person and I miss him so much. I'm praying for Eric and his brother. Thank you for your beautifully written post. It's nice to see compassion rather than condemnation for those struggling with such a powerful master.

Anonymous said...

Praying for Eric and his brother.

Anonymous said...

Very moving post. Thank you so much for sharing your life and ministry with us.
Not to be nit-picky and I could be wrong but I believe the drug is spelled "heroin" and a female hero is referred to as a "heroine".

Chris Worthy said...

What a wonderful post! It is so easy to dehumanize the difficult people we meet. The best job I ever had was working with those people -- no matter how difficult or messy or hard it was (they were), they were someone's son or daughter. And mostly, God's child. Thank you for that reminder today.

The 5 Bickies said...

What a powerful story and so well written. Thank you for sharing this. I too will pray for Eric and his brother.

Ron Dodson said...

I sometimes wonder, in cases like this, if it would behoove the Church to take these people off the street and simply care for them in a home for as long as it takes.

Literally save them.

Oh, only in Christendom would that work, in a Church that sees the world as to be conquered one soul at a time. Eric won't be convinced, but I wasn't convinced either. I was saved.