Guest Blog Entry- Susan Randall is a dear friend who God has gifted as an author and hospice nurse. She is published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, medical journals and a youth devotional. I pray her devotion is meaningful to you.
When you are praying about something that seems hopeless or absolutely unchanging in your adult children’s lives, remember that you are not at war with them; you are at war with the enemy who blinds people to the truth” 2 Corinthians 4:3-4
I got up early and checked on my son. I saw his thin body, the black craters under his eyes, the track marks on his arms, and wondered, who is this person? In his room were tiny clear bags with traces of illegal drugs, the odor of unwashed clothes, and a syringe with a broken plunger lying on the floor, evidence of heroin use. The body I gave birth to, the little baby I held in my arms, nourished from my breast, and gazed at for hours, was being destroyed. Fear escalated inside me as I wonder if hepatitis or AIDS could be raging inside him. Could he end up with stab wounds or bullet holes from a drug-deal gone terribly wrong? Could his last breath be from an accidental overdose? I imagined him dying in many ways, and because my prayers had gone unanswered, I was consumed with grief.
Every morning at 5a.m. I would sit on the sofa with lit candles in front of me. The house was so pleasantly quiet with the dog snoring and the cat purring beside me. I would always read a daily devotional and pray for God’s will to be done, adding a plea to heal my son’s addiction. After seeing my son in such horrible shape that morning, I went to the living room and sat in my usual spot. I didn’t light any candles. I didn’t open my book. Instead, I covered my face and wept. After three years of praying for healing, my son’s addiction was worse than ever. I felt there was no one listening to my prayers. I grieved for his illness, and also grieved for my loss of faith. I could not bring myself to pray; my spirit was broken.
As a hospice nurse, I knew of a three year old boy who had died the day before from a terminal illness. I thought about how my son was thriving at three, how I had twenty-four years with him; twenty-seven years with my daughter. Even though the hard times were exhausting and emotionally draining, the good times I had with my children far outnumbered the bad.
When I thought about the three year old child who died, it was like receiving a spiritual message. Unlike his mother, I’d been fortunate to have my two children for many years. I started to pull myself out of the pit of despair, realizing that I have had many days enjoying my children before the heroin started. There are addicts who have pulled themselves out of the addiction and this could happen to my son. It just takes a long time. I knew there was still hope…I had to believe God was still trying to hold my son’s hand and lead him to peace. I needed to have faith to get myself through those awful days.
I didn’t know if living clean or dying young was in his future, but I thought about the many good days we had together and my crying stopped, I lit candles and placed my hands on each one of the animals beside me. I prayed for God’s will to be done, for patience to wait for understanding as to why this was happening, and I thanked God for sending me a message during one of my darkest moments. I was comforted with the verse in the devotional that day:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6.
It has been over six years since I wrote this in my diary. My son has been clean of heroin for the past six years. He has been working and taking classes to earn a degree in mental health. His goal is to become an addictions counselor. He’s very close to completing all the classes and starting as an intern.
I know many families are struggling with an addict who is still using drugs, and others have lost their children to this horrible illness. Every day I pray for them. I hope they can find some peace in Proverbs 3:5-6. It helped me trust that the Lord is in control of the outcome, and got me through the days when my spirit was broken.
Dear Lord, I know you love every person dealing with addictions. I pray for strength and protection right now for those I know fighting this battle. I also pray for the families who are impacted by this disease. Reveal to me ways that you want me to be a vessel of hope and trust. Amen