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Monday, April 27, 2009


J. Grant Swank, Jr.

“I didn’t have anything to do with it!” she cried.

Seated in my counseling room, her words crammed into one another. One jam session, for sure.

“I tell you. It’s true.”

Sobbing, Barbara attempted to set the record straight—true—factual—honest to the nth.

He didn’t buy it.

“They were screaming at one another. He lunged at the car. Bob yelled back. I was caught in the middle.” Sobbing uncontrollably, she leaned to right, then left. I thought she was going to fall onto the floor. “Why are you accusing me?”

Barbara was one of my clients. Her problem? Addiction. Well, actually with an “s”. In short, her life was one grand mess.

But Barbara was one of those individuals that you take to, that is, if you don’t have prejudices, particularly if you take to persons whose lives are so complicated that you wonder if the anyone can fix them.

That’s where my job came in. I thoroughly enjoyed it. “I leave work on a high,” I exclaimed to a friend. Why? Because I’m one of those loony fellas who gets an adrenaline rush out of helping people.

I knew Barbara. I trusted her. She’d been clean from drugs for a good long time and was making a Herculean attempt at being nice, decent, friendly-to-all and paying her bills without stealing a dime. Now with that I concluded, as her counselor, that she warranted an Emmy.

But my boss didn’t agree. He was sure that Barbara was one of the villains in the clinic’s parking lot who instigated a tussle that brought police and messed up staff’s morning coffee break.

Oh brother, was I ever caught between the devil and the deep blue sea; you can figure out who the devil was in that scene. (It wasn’t Barbara).

So I spoke up in her defense, loyal fool that I have proven myself to be on more than one occasion. That did not set well with boss. Not.

I persisted. I won’t budge when it comes to truth; it’s one of those ethical things that a few of us dimwits still give our lives to.

Presently, boss left room. Barbara was in shambles. My heart was beating out of my chest cavity. What in the name of God was going to happen next?

At 1:30, boss walked in to tell me I was done, over, up and out—“for insubordination”. Ever been there? Am sure there are a few out there who can ID on that one? Yep.

By 2, my coffee maker and I were in the auto trucking home for my last day at the clinic. My heart was torn in shreds. Tears streamed down my cheeks. I wondered where God had gone all of a sudden. Sometimes you pay a dear price for never giving up on a friend—and for standing alongside truth.

However, that was years ago. This evening I was thinking back over all that hellish glee that demons set loose. But, guess what, they didn’t win. Nope. They didn’t. They never do. God won. Yet that’s another story—grand and teaching and deepening and painful.

But my point is this: stay true to your real friends, glue yourself to God’s truth and let Him swing you wherever He deems. In the travels you will scan back to see He knew what He was doing; but more: His confidence in you going along for the ride is one boost that hardly has its equal.