Over the past year, Miles Adcox & I, have been developing a program called The Write Workshop. In our workshop we write a unique song for each participant based on his or her story. The participant has usually come to the workshop because they are doing intensive therapy / trauma work. That’s what I was doing yesterday, when I ran into a boy who changed my life.
As he began to tell me about his story, my heart stirred. I could see the fresh needle mark on the back of his hand, the last place he’d pushed a drug into his veins. We talked for about two hours, as I gathered lyrics for his song. I heard the horror of death all around him, of a broken childhood, of innocence lost too early. No tears fell, but the burning in his eyes was tangible. After some time of being together I began to cry. He looked up and said, “why are you the one crying and not me?” I told him, I was crying for him because he couldn’t cry for himself and because, though he couldn’t see it, behind my Pollyanna smile, was a pain much like his own.
Our drugs of choice were different, but our reason for wanting to escape was the same. We both felt unworthy of grace. His dark jet black eyes looked me square in the face and he said, “I want to feel like I deserve to live”. Oh how I know the feeling.
It is so easy to judge the symptom, to only see the outward actions of others, and yet, surprisingly those are irrelevant. The ache is the same. We all have or still feel unworthy, tainted, not good enough, not pretty enough, not sane enough. We live “lives of quiet desperation”, saying we believe in God, but never allowing Him to believe in us.
The beauty of my work at The Write Workshop, is I’m not a therapist. I’m a songwriter. I’m a sober woman. I’m a real human being and I can share, uncensored. In the middle of writing his song, I put down the paper and pen. The therapist in the room sat quietly. Pulling my chair next to his, we looked at each other eyes to eyes in silence. With tears running down my cheek, I said, “you are not bad. You are worthy. You deserve to live. However my precious friend, unorthodox as it may sound in this setting, I am going to share with you what I believe to be the only hope for folks like us…..” He looked at be with a palpable desperation. I smiled and said, “Jesus is our only hope.” Right there in the rolling hills of TN, as though he and I were the only two people on the planet, he asked God to come into his heart. All on his own, without any guidance, he said, “God, I want you to live in me…”
As we were about to leave, I asked him if the needle mark on his hand was the last place he shot up. He touched it, lowered his head, and said, “yes”. I said, well there’s something you should know. Hopeful he looked up at me and I told him, “Jesus has nail scars on his hands, so you don’t have to have needle scars on yours.”
—- Tyler Hayes
—- sending you love wherever you are in the world
photograph by Lisa Ehrie at Thirteen Photography