Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My Failed Drug Test

In our shelters for homeless men, we have a drug-free policy. No one is allowed to stay if they are caught using drugs. To enforce our policy, we administer random drug tests. One night, a man was so out of it that he couldn’t stand still for a minute without falling asleep. It took him an hour to eat because he kept falling asleep at the table. He insisted that it was his prescriptions that caused this behavior, but I was skeptical. When I tested him, I was shocked at how many drugs he had taken. He was positive for every category of drug on the test, except for the three that he claimed would show up because of his medication. He insisted that the test was wrong, but it was hard to deny the evidence. We told him to gather his belongings and called him a cab. He left the office complaining about discrimination and insisting that he was innocent.

As we waited for the cab, another brother and I looked over the test again. He was asking me how it worked and I was explaining the process and the diagram that showed how to read the test. As I was doing so, he suddenly said: “Wait, does that mean we read it wrong?” My heart sank and my soul was filled with guilt. “OH NO!” I was wrong! The man had been telling the truth the whole time. He really was innocent!

My humiliating mistake reminded me of an important principle: our problems are often internal, not external. We need to look at ourselves first before we start blaming others. As Jesus said, take the log out of your own eye before you try to help others with their splinter. 

It has been my experience that when I am upset with someone or with a situation, the problem is usually with me and not with the others involved. Even if others are blameworthy, I’m not usually upset because of justice, but because I have encountered my own woundedness and insecurity. Their faults reveal my shortcomings as well. . Thus, I find that if I come before the Lord and, with his help and guidance, focus on changing and healing what’s wrong with me, then the situation improves. After all, the only one I have control over is myself. As they say in AA, “Happiness is an inside job.”

+ Br. Ignatius Pio Mariae, CFR
   Bronx, NY
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