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This neighborhood has really been sucking all the “fun” out of “dysfunction” lately. I think I’m either getting some PTSD or my ears are just ringing because I’m now hearing people screaming and sirens coming even when they aren’t there anymore.

Anxiety has a tangible energy to it, PTSD is environmental, it starts in your body long before you even become aware of it. In fact, when you can become aware of it and welcome it like an old friend, it starts to lose its grip on you. In addition to the usual domestic violence and child abuse on the other side of the road are the pipe bomb makers. Nothing calms the nerves quite like random, drug fueled explosions in your residential neighborhood at all hours of the day and night.

Besides all the ordinary relationship struggles people face anyway, let’s just add addiction into the mix. In other words, we people are already toxic and dysfunctional, but stir in some mood altering substances and withdrawal symptoms and things just go from ugly to, downright ugly and really sad.

I want to say “Stop it. Just stop it,” but of course people are on autopilot, they are acting and reacting without any self awareness. In fact, they are mindlessly reading from some trauma script, trapped in this cycle of what they’ve learned and lived. Jesus came to set the captives free, but that’s a tough concept to sell to people who don’t even realize they are captives.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There is another way, a better way, actually once called, “the way.” Right? “I am the truth and the life and the way.” It’s a tough sell because a lot of people don’t even realize there is another way, another option available. You don’t have to live this way, but you have to at least reach for it, at least try to imagine the possibility of something better.

It may sound trite to say this, but Jesus will fulfill all your needs. ALL of them. These are not words on a coffee mug, this is walked out truth, this is reality for many who will testify to it. That means, if you invite Him in, He will heal what is wounded, give you what you need, and fulfill ALL your unmet relationship needs. All of them. So if your mother is a raging addict and you suffer from abandonment issues, you got a perfect Father in heaven who wants adopt you, heal you, and guide you forward.

And yes, it can be really painful for a while, but not nearly as bad as how a lot of people are already living! Shoot, hell is not a burning lake of fire in another dimension far away, hell is living right across the street tormenting itself and everyone it touches, right here, right now.

It’s really sad to me because I’ve lived long enough to know people generationally, so those words coming out of your mouth are not even your own, they belong to your father or your grandmother. I recognize the phrasing, the tone, the idioms, the alcoholic rage. How is it you cannot hear yourself screaming words onto the next generation, that don’t even belong to you???

“In the world you will have trouble,” that’s a given. Relationships can be hard because there are people in them. However, if we seek Jesus first, make Him the first thing, the One who fulfills ALL of our needs, other people loose their power over us and all the emotional hooks go away. Nobody feeds on drama when they aren’t hungry anymore.

“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” He wasn’t just talking about keeping our stomachs full, but our souls, our emotional realm, our relationship needs.

Also, no matter how blind we are, we still have a choice about how we are going to live, what kind of people we are going to be. While I am packed with empathy for other people’s relationship struggles, and quite familiar with the power of trauma, I am also keenly aware that we are all without excuse.

Choose better.