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She wasn’t a druggie, she was her mother’s daughter

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By Eric Blauer

“Did you hear about “_______?,” she was the girl in the news who the police thought was having a drug overdose but upon arrival at the hospital, it was discovered that she had been shot in the abdomen….and she died.”

 

That’s hard news to hear right before you preach on Sunday.

 

I knew this young woman from a distance.

 

I’ve watched her live her life in our neighborhood.
We shared a few meals when we hosted Tuesday night community dinners.
From my porch, I’ve watched her stroll down the sidewalk with her boyfriends.
Watched her waddle down the sidewalk when she was pregnant.
Watched her push her baby stroller.
I watched her thin out.
Then she was gone.

 

Now she’s dead.

 

I preached my sermon with more pain and passion, knowing that this is one of the reasons we moved into this neighborhood to work, worship and witness. It’s so easy to skim over the news and get callous to all the crime and violence that accompanies the drug life. I didn’t even read the full news article this week, since such topics have become so ‘normal’ these days. It’s easy to not care or reduce someone’s kid to an addict, a criminal or a ‘social problem.’ But when you know them, it’s not a new story. It becomes part of your story.

 

My heart is heavy today, weighed down with the sadness and the seriousness of the call to rededicate myself to reach young people and families with the good news of the Gospel. The message of who Jesus was, what he did on the cross and how that sacrifice made the way clear for me to experience the forgiveness and restoration of relationship with God, changed my violent, drugged up life at 14 years old, and it’s still changing lives.

 

In the same service, I hugged another 14-year-old girl who showed up from our neighborhood. She hasn’t been around for a long time, seeing her come with her little sister drove home the point that being mission minded in this neighborhood matters.

 

Being a kind neighbor is valuable.
Feeding people is important.
Praying for the neighborhood is essential.

 

But sharing the Gospel of Jesus with young people matters the most and for some it could be life or death.
Eric Blauer

About Eric Blauer

I am Frederick Christian Blauer IV, but I go by Eric, it sounds less like a megalomaniac but still hints at my Scandinavian destiny of coastal conquest and ultimate rule. I have accumulated a fair number of titles: son, brother, husband, father, pastor, writer, artist and a few other more colorful titles by my fanged fans. I am a lover of story be it heard, read or watched in all beauty, gory or glory. I write and speak as an exorcist or poltergeist, splashing holy water, spilling wine and breaking bread between the apocalypse and a sleeping baby. I am possessed by too many words and they get driven out like wild pigs and into the waters of my blog at www.fcb4.tumblr.com. I work as a pastor at Jacob's Well Church (www.jacobswellspokane.com) across the tracks on 'that' side of town. I follow Christ in East Central Spokane among saints, sinners, angels, demons, crime, condoms, chaos, beauty, goodness and powerful weakness. I have more questions than answers, grey hairs than brown, fat than muscle, fire than fireplace and experience more love from my wife, family and friends than a man should be blessed with in one lifetime.

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  • This was an emotionally difficult article to write. One reason was I never want to hijack someone’s tragedy for personal means. Honoring people’s pain is part of protecting, carrying and caring for one another. But I also have my own pain too, and writing is one of the main ways I work through my own hurt. Part of my work as a pastor and writer is to tell stories that matter and too often those in the margins become policy props, projects or problems instead of people with names. Pastoring in a neighborhood means you are intertwined in the lives of people who may or may not be in your church but are in your parish so to speak. My call/assignment from the Lord is to East Central as well as Jacob’s Well and that means hearts & homes of members and neighbors. I hope I can find ways to celebrate and mourn the lives of those I have the privilege to know and serve. It’s out of that spirit, that I write this pieces.

    “if your heart is hurting
    write it out”
    -rupi kaur

    • “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”
      — Rabbi Tarfon

  • Liv Larson Andrews

    The peace of Christ be with you, Eric.
    Earlier this month, a young man came by Salem to tell us that his brother, a member and friend of many at Salem, had died of a heroin overdose. It was like the floor gave out when I heard that. I was in disbelief.
    I’m sure to many this young man was a “druggie,” or a transient, or some other label that helps us regard others as distant and apart from us. To the people of Salem, he was our brother. I conducted his funeral that week.
    God bless and keep you in your calling to be a neighbor and also a pastor. God strengthen you as you continue to set out the gifts of grace: food, fellowship, prayer and good news. Thanks for this article and all the hurt sincerely spoken.

    • Thank Liv, I know you understand the burden and blessing of being in this place.

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