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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Strauser

Manufactured Parties

I used to do the same thing every night. After I put my kids to bed I would take out my little wooden box, go outside, and take three hits of weed. Not two, not four, but three hits exactly. Just enough to take the edge off, to relax, and to calm down after my day. Just enough to help me sleep. I saw it the same way someone else would see a glass of wine after dinner. I wasn’t addicted and I was responsible, so there was no problem.

No matter how difficult my day was, no matter how badly my husband and I had fought, no matter how chaotic my life was becoming, those three hits were my reset button. I could go outside livid at whatever drug-fueled shenanigan he had pulled and I came inside happy and relaxed and a thousand miles away from it all.

I was manufacturing peace and contentment and happiness in that little metal pipe. I was hiding from all of the things that hurt me, from the reality of what my life had become. I couldn’t handle the quiet that came in the nighttime when all of the distractions had ceased. So I manufactured a party where there was none and I ran from the sadness.

Because of our human nature, we tend to flee from sadness like the plague. I mean come on, I have yet to meet a human being that is delighted to walk through a sad circumstance. It makes sense to retreat, to hide, to do anything necessary to feel else. But sadness has a purpose; sadness is refining.

“Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us.”

- Ecclesiastes 7:3 NLT

Don’t like the NLT translation? Check out the KJV instead: “Sorrow [is] better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.” I wanted my heart to be made better, I just didn’t want it to have to be that way. I wanted it to just happen while I walked around in my smokescreen. I didn’t want to feel it in order for it to go away.

It wasn’t until some time after I started my walk with Jesus that the conviction about marijuana started to settle in. I didn’t want to feel that either! It was the only thing that I knew, the only tool that I had left in my belt to deal with the mess that my life had become. The thing was that God wanted to be what I ran to when the sadness was overwhelming, not my stash.

I wish I could say that the first night that went by when I didn’t smoke was glorious and all of these problems that I had been sweeping under the rug were neatly organized and put to rest. That was not how it went. I stayed angry, there was no reset at the end of the night and I didn’t know what to do about that. God did though. He walked me through it. Instead of hiding my hurt behind a cloud of smoke, He refined it out of me.

There was a purpose in it all but the first thing that I needed to learn was that it wasn’t all about me and my feelings. There was a bigger picture, a grander scheme, so to speak, and in order for me to play my part in it, I needed to be sober-minded and present—even in the pain, even in the sadness.

“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.”

- Psalm 126:5

There was a joy on the other side of the pain but the pain needed to be felt and worked through in order to get there. The beauty of it all was learning that I wasn’t alone in the fight. I had a God that wanted to walk beside me even in that, even when I was too weak to stand. I didn’t have to hide from Him in the face of it, in fact, it wasn’t until I stopped hiding that He showed up with the peace and contentment that only He can give, the type that surpasses understanding, the kind that you don’t have to find a dealer for or hide away in a wooden box.

Here’s the thing though, we don’t just hide our sadness in pot. There are a plethora of hiding spots where we try to stuff it away: wine, pornography, social media, food, tik tok, video games, work, relationships, busyness, sex, shopping, and the list goes on and on. Maybe you’re not smoking your feelings away but are you shoving them in a box of a different shape?

What are you keeping around “just in case”? What do you run to when you’ve had it up to here? If the answer isn’t God you are missing the point. He is just waiting for you to lay aside your vices and come to Him empty-handed and ready to receive. He promises to renew our strength on wings like eagles, but if you don’t come to the end of your own how can you accept His? We need to normalize coming to the end of ourselves and reaching out for help. He is the only one that can change us. He is the only one that can heal our hearts. It’s time to admit that we need Him in our brokenness and emptiness and sadness. It’s time to put down the pipe, dump the bottle in your freezer, delete the app, lose the number, and finally come face to face with the thing that He’s been waiting to heal.

Will it hurt? Yeah. But on the other side, you will finally be free. It’s time to stop manufacturing the party and finally walk into the freedom that has been waiting all along.

Written by Amanda Strauser

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