INSP has been asking vendors from across the street paper network to write letters to their 25-year-old self to mark the end of INSP’s 25th anniversary year. Lars (74) sells Faktum at a shopping mall in Gothenburg. In this #VendorLetter,, he reflects on his drinking and the strength he takes from his faith.
When I turned 25 I realised I wouldn’t get my university degree. It was in the early 70s and I was studying to become a teacher. I passed five semesters but didn’t make the sixth. I spent every night in the pub, and I slowly realised that I was an alcoholic. One day I sought help at a hospital but got none. During the 70s, I used the system, since I didn’t want to admit my disability – I have a severe visual impairment. Instead, I became a vagabond. I went on social grants, worked a little to be able to go out and travel. I felt free. On my trips to the Mediterranean I met people at pubs and bistros, short and superficial relationships, where my disability did not matter. I could let go of the feeling of being inadequate. I lived some kind of double life. No one knew about my bad sight.
But I drank, of course.
At that time, in Sweden, you received social grants when you asked for it, without control. The municipalities were rich and spent money. They even paid for my psychoanalysis treatment over three years! It helped me, among other things, to admit to myself that I had a disability.
To my 25-year-old self, I would say: When you were a kid, you had faith in Jesus. Now you have turned your back on him. But he’s waiting for you to come back. So don’t worry. I was saved when I was 56 years old. I thought I was done with Jesus in the 70s, but I wasn’t. When I was saved, I had been homeless for four years and I couldn’t stand anymore. I was as far down as you can get.
Today, when I don’t sell Faktum, I distribute free Bibles.
I can’t tell young people anything when everything is going to be a disaster: the environment, wars, diseases that spread around the world. I understand that the Greta movement wants good. I also understand the UN and the Pope and global movements that want to create a world free from poverty, diseases, environmental degradation and pollution. But for me it’s an optimistic utopia. I do want to spread hope to both 25-year-olds and others – and that is the hope and joy I find living near and believing in God.
Check back in every day over the festive period for more #VendorLetters.
INSP members can download the #VendorLetters feature on the INSP News Service.