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The Word on the Week

Family Secrets

Uncle John was the life and soul of the party! He was a very capable farmer in his day. It was largely due to his efforts that he broke in a bare piece of Aberdeenshire and carved a farm out of the hillside at Feith Hill.

Much of the stone and rock had been cleared away in his father’s time but John brought the land into fertility.

Unfortunately it was not the only thing he has a passion for. Uncle John was an alcoholic. Initially he disguised it well and managed to handle his weekly visit to the mart although the journey home got increasingly difficult. Our house was a regular port of call where strong coffee was ministered to better prepare him for the road.

John died of throat cancer. The family diagnosis was that the whisky had burned his throat. He died bankrupt. The farm sold. The family scattered.

The revelation on social media by Natasha Eddrey this last week of her famous Jockey father’s alcoholism brought Uncle John to mind. Many were aware that Pat Eddrey had a drink problem but it was surrounded by the usual conspiracy of silence. The breaking of the silence went right to the national conscience where buried lies the heartbreak of addiction in almost every family in the land.

“I don’t have a drink problem” usually heralds its arrival! Denial, that ever present component of the culture, kicks in. Relationships with those you love become frayed. The subject becomes taboo. The behaviour gets more erratic. Isolation follows.

It doesn’t have to be drink. The pain of being me can be dulled by drugs, whether painkillers or pot. Comfort food, sugar and obesity are often precursor to problems. For the tecky there is the addiction of the internet with its cesspool of porn. All these family secrets get exposed sooner or later. Addictions nearly always win in the end.

It is such a pity that our patron Saint gets lampooned these days instead of being listened to. In his major work ‘Confession’ he starts with the humble words “I, Patrick, a sinner.” This is where we need to begin if we are ever to be freed from our addictions right there in the heart of Romans Chapter 3 verses 10- 31! The language is so stark that we may have difficulty in recognising ourselves in it. Strange we have no such difficulty in recognising others in there!

Having shown the futility of law keeping, of trying to do better, as a means of getting right with God, (and with ourselves), St Paul unveils the way of faith in the work of Jesus redeeming love on the cross. This faith which redeems is the only hope for us addicts to break the power of addiction, but even if it does not, still present us faultless before the throne of God. Jude verses 20/25.

There will be many in heaven whose addictions robbed them of their joy on earth. There will be none in heaven whose faith was in themselves and not in Jesus alone.