I’ve spent the past year focusing on my husband’s recovery from a bad fall, our many offspring, and my own mental health.
Yesterday I was happily poking around on the porch, re-potting and watering geraniums, when I thought it might be time to branch out more. Maybe I should once again ask God to bring people to me if he wants me to “do ministry.”
The last time I prayed this prayer, He brought a hundred strangers to use our bathroom, the day of the eclipse. So it is a prayer that invites adventure. I didn’t pray it specifically this time, but kind of sideways, distracted by thirsty flowers. “Whatever you figure out is fine with me, God. I think.”
Today I was home alone for a few hours, a precious privilege.
I heard a knock on the front door and opened it to a shirtless young man who seemed to be in some kind of distress. At first I thought it was my friend Lora’s son.
“Logan??” I said.
“Do you work at the warehouse?” I said, trying to remember who was sacking seed this summer.
Something was obviously wrong. I looked around. No car. Maybe he had wrecked his car and walked here for help.
“Uh, I’m a druggie,” he said, slurring his words. He held out his arm and showed me a row of sores.
Ah. Well then.
I told him to sit down. He did. I asked what he needed. “A drink.”
I brought him Gatorade.
What should I do? “Can I call someone?” I said.
“Is there anything else you need?”
He also said something about being diabetic.
Well. Hungry Young Man is a language I speak. I quickly slathered peanut butter and honey on a slice of homemade bread and brought it to him. That should get his blood sugar up fast.
I asked about addiction and if he thinks he’s overdosed, racking my brain for everything our paramedic son Steven has mentioned. Like dilated pupils.
I used my Mom voice. “May I get a good look at your eyes?”
He said I could, and I leaned in, peering under the hat. He looked ok, I thought.
And he was still hungry.
I fixed him a big scrambled egg and cheese sandwich on a bun and brought it, with more Gatorade.
He asked if it’s okay if he injects himself there on the porch. Normally he would just do it, he said, but he thought I was nice, so he asked.
“No. Eat and rest up, then go somewhere else to do that.”
“Okay,” he said.
(Later I realized he might have been talking about an insulin shot and not heroin. Then I felt really chagrined.)
I also made him a hot dog with all the fixings, and a can of pop.
Finally I got hold of Steven at work, and asked about overdoses and diabetes.
Bryce just sat on a chair on the porch like he was very tired and hungry.
After about half an hour, I went and fetched Kevin Baker who is working on our new barn. He talked to Bryce and agreed to drive him to Harrisburg.
My husband, Paul, came home about that time.
Bryce asked to use the bathroom. Paul showed him where it is. Bryce went inside and we waited. And waited.
“Oh dear. I wonder if he’s shooting up in there,” I said.
Paul knocked on the door and then opened it. Bryce was standing there charging his phone. There were no needles in sight. I was so happy he’d kept his word.
He and Kevin left.
Steven came home from work and urged more caution, should this ever happen again, because addicts can quickly turn violent. This one was unusually polite, Steven said. He used that tone of voice that adult kids use when they’re worried about you, which is one of the most delightful things about having adult kids.
“All right,” I said.
I decided that once you’ve raised three sons, it’s hard to be afraid of a skinny, hungry young man. You know they need specific instructions and lots of food. They also need Jesus, of course, but I didn’t mention that to Bryce, since he was high, but I hoped he was getting a taste of Jesus in the plump egg sandwich, carefully browned in butter.
My friend Rhonda Schrock writes about raising four sons, loving a wanderer, and reaching out to other sons as she wants people to reach out to hers. Her example has often inspired me, and my feeding Bryce was not only for his sake but also for Rhonda’s son and all the young men walking difficult paths.
Late that night, I heard a knock on the door. Bryce had returned. He put his hands on the screen door and peered inside. “Can I come in?”
“No, sorry. Please sit down on the porch.”
I went out to talk to him. He was shaking and even more incoherent than he’d been that morning.
A police car, lights flashing, sat in the driveway.
Once again, I brought Bryce a drink, then went out to talk to the policeman. Apparently, Bryce had been pounding on doors about two miles from here, and they called the police, who followed him as he walked here.
“Does he live here?” the policeman said.
“No, but I fed him a sandwich earlier today.”
“Oh. He said he lives here.”
I called Steven who had just gone to bed. He came and talked to Bryce, trying to persuade him to go voluntarily with the policeman, who promised to take him to a shelter.
Eventually, another officer arrived and they handcuffed Bryce and took him away.
I thought later of lots of ways I could and should have done things differently, such as making sure he was taking insulin. I posted about the episode on Facebook and received a lot more “You should have just” advice, from feeding him candy instead of a sandwich to sharing about Jesus, since, they said, addicts can comprehend even when they’re high.
I decided that God sent Bryce my way knowing perfectly well that I was greener than grass regarding drugs, diabetes, and homelessness, so it’s His responsibility how things turned out.
All the information I had was what I gathered in the moment. All we can do is work with what we have. Feeling your way through the unknown is part of the adventure of letting God decide what your ministry will be.
*not his real name
Dorcas Smucker, a published author, writes at “Life in the Shoe”! Check out her writings and follow her on Instagram @dorcassmucker.