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In Need of Pants – A Brady Street Story, Part 2

Previous – It’s court time for our neighbor Brett, and he’s still in bed. Marnell and I want to help him get into drug rehab, and he’s so close to getting in. Just a few more appointments. Brett says he’s not making his appointments because he’s depressed because he can’t see his son. Our friend Chris tells us we are helping Brett too much. See last Saturday’s post for more details.

Also, congrats to Rachel and Jacinda, whose names were drawn for the $40 restaurant gift card. For those who didn’t win, a similar giveaway will be offered this Monday to Facebook Page followers.

And now, the continued story

I sprint back to the house, running across the carpet in my boots to procure the keys. Of course, it frosted overnight, so I have to contend with a sheen of ice on my windshield, but praise the Lord it quickly melts. I honk my horn like a crazy person outside Brett’s house, and he comes quickly, pulling a dark green fleece coat covered with white fuzzies over his tattooed arms and torso. He climbs into the car.

“If it wouldn’t be for you, I’d be in contempt of court,” he says as we take the corner onto Jackson Place.

I just nod.

“Don’t try to defend yourself to the judge,” I say. “Just say you are in a bad situation and that you are trying to get into rehab to get your life together. Don’t make excuses. Did you bring the letter from the rehab?”


“Never mind, I’ve got another copy,” I say. “I’ll drop you off up front and then go find a place to park.”

It’s About 9:35

I go through security for the second time. I’m not about to explain to the security guards why I left and am back. Then, up to the second floor. Brett is working on paperwork at the end of the hall, behind two men in dress clothes in earnest conversation. I head his way. As I approach, Brett begins to wave at me urgently, trying to keep me from approaching.

I glance at the men talking and at Brett doing paperwork. There seems to be no reason why I can’t come closer, and I keep walking. He continues to gesture wildly, and finally I hear him.

“I just passed gas!”

I laugh and walk over anyway, taking a seat four chairs away.

“Is this a safe distance?” I ask.

“For now,” he says.

We both laugh, just the thing we need after such a dreadful start to the day.

About 9:45

Once in court, Brett begins rearranging the chairs in the row ahead of us.

“Don’t do that,” I whisper. “It’s distracting.”

“My knee hurts,” he whispers back, continuing to clang and clatter. “I need to put it up.”

I sigh and nod.

The commissioner (kind of like a judge) taking child support cases handles defendants with grim dispatch. We hear him barking orders at the people. Finally, Brett’s name is called. After cold preliminaries, the commissioner addresses Brett directly.

About 10:20

“Okay, a couple of things,” the commissioner says. “First of all, you came in here and you caused a disruption by moving those chairs. Also, you seem to be all over the place and it’s hard for me to follow you, so I’m going to have you do a drug test.”

Brett had a brain injury as a teenager, yet he has an extensive vocabulary. I feel for the commissioner. When Brett returns from the test, he tells me he passed.

“When you go up again,” I whisper, “make sure you show him that letter from Teen Challenge! That’s the most important thing! I don’t care if he doesn’t look at it, just lay it on his desk.”

He does show the letter, and the commissioner glances over it with the speed reading ability that talented professionals all seem to have.

“Your drug test was clear. I have to put you in contempt of court for not following our last instructions,” he says. Brett begins to cry. “But listen – listen to me! – I want you to go to Teen Challenge and get your life together. The public defender can work for you while you are there.”

It’s kind of amazing that the courts support a Christian rehab so much that they have brochures for it in the room. But, they know that the success rate there is extraordinarily high.

So, Brett leaves with a good plan. The courts are not sending him to jail, but encouraging him to go to Christian rehab. Marnell sets up a time and day for Brett to move into the rehab and agrees to take off work to see to it that everything proceeds according to plan. He schedules it for Monday at 3pm, and Brett agrees to get ready over the weekend.

We do not see him over the weekend. Sunday evening I tell Marnell, “Well, if everything goes well, Brett will be at Teen Challenge by this time tomorrow.” I am a little uneasy. But hopeful.

The next morning around 10, I decide I had better take the precaution of checking on Brett. I did a bunch of laundry for him (the dog hair and dirt of which possibly caused my sore throat and cough symptoms for a number of days). There is a very large shirt in the laundry and I decide to ask him if he still wants it since it is not his size.

The first sign of trouble is the roommate’s voice hollering out in response to my knocking. He tells me that the front door does not work, but Brett’s mom will meet me at the back of the house.

I tramp around to the back of the house, where the elderly woman greets me.

“Where is Brett?” I ask.

“He went to Chicago,” she says. “He said he would be back at 5 o’clock to go to the rehab.”

My heart sinks down to the mud.

Marnell talked to Brett later that afternoon for about three and a half hours. The bottom line was that he does not want to be restricted by living at a rehab. And, likely, he wants his drugs. Even though he passed the test at court, word on the street is that he’s the man who is always looking for drugs.

Dear me.

Maybe Chris was right. There is a thing of helping someone too much. But, maybe we can’t always know how much is too much? Brett had told us repeatedly that he was ready for rehab this time. He cried and thanked the rehab coordinator. He was so close.

So I’m not sure that our efforts were unfounded, but now that Brett has drawn his line in the sand, our perspective has changed. He will without doubt show up again wanting money sometime. We will always feed people if they are hungry, and we will do that for him if he comes back. But there isn’t much else we can do, until he hits a wall that really inspires him to change.

I had this blog already prepared when yesterday, Good Friday, we received a thin white postcard in the mail, penciled full with pleas from Brett. And he’s not asking for pants. I tried to decipher it, then set it down.

“Did you see the red print?” Marnell asked.

I picked it up again. I had not.


Ah. Well, not surprising. We haven’t decided what to do next.

Only God knows just what is best, and we will have to seek His heart.

P.S. I am using the name Brett for privacy. He did share his story for Voices of Survival podcast. He agreed to use his real name on the podcast, but I didn’t feel right about using it here. I’ll include the “trailer” here again in case you missed it. Remember, we will update when you are able to subscribe to the podcast.

14 thoughts on “In Need of Pants – A Brady Street Story, Part 2”

  1. Linda Sprouffske

    In working with addicts and mental health clients I’m frequently reminded of the question Jesus asked the man who had been infirm for 38 years, “Do you want to be made well?”
    And having to remember that my definition of “well” may not be the same as theirs.

  2. We had a similar story last fall. Only God brought him to our door. Then he took away his car and cell phone. He was stuck! Or he would have fled as was his pattern. And just like that we were involved in the life of an addict. An extremely wearing experience. Praise to God our story has a different ending. We didn’t take a deep breath until Teen Challenge was in our rear view mirror. And disappointing as your ending is don’t take it personal. You did all you could.

  3. May God bless you in His all seeing way for how you have invested in this Kingdom work. It is not a waste when you have His perspective.

  4. oh, I love this keep listening. It will help them more than you know I am convinced. Altho I haven’t actually seen a lot of evidence. (Except in my life , not from a druggie perspective myself. But I definitely had personal issues.)
    Keep it up!! Sometime it will keep them out of jail or it will keep their child out of jail.

  5. Oh, Katrina. I’ve been in your shoes. They looked a little different, yes. Pinched in different places and were a different size and color. But I know the pain of having to change perspective; the ache of wanting to help but having to step back because the choice was not mine to make. I pray God gives you wisdom and peace in knowing that He is always more interested in what He is doing in you than through you. These opportunities for ministry are about so much more than the people we desperately long to help! Grace to you.

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