By @Anitawriter Anita Estes
This week’s hope story comes from fellow writer, Anita Estes, who shares her journey through her son’s drug addiction.
“Everything will be okay. Don’t worry. I’m fine.”
My son’s hollow promise haunted my waking hours. It was the same old story, and still, I wondered if it could be true. He assured me he was okay, but he spent money like it was water, lost things, and hadn’t answered his cell phone for almost a week.
Where was he? What was he doing? Was he attending school?
Ben attempted college for the third time at twenty-three years old. His first season away, he got involved with a frat and pledging. Because of this, he barely attended classes and failed his second semester. He came home for six months and worked.
He convinced us he was ready to go back the second time. I thought he was doing all right but, at the end of the semester, he’d failed half his courses. He gave the excuse that he lent his book money to a friend who never paid him back.
His “lending” habit proved to be a problem again.
He got hooked up with the wrong people, and they took him for a ride. They helped deplete his college loan money and pulled him further into drugs.
We warned him not to do it, and he said he’d stopped. Yet he wasn’t telling the truth. We realized this after he received a ticket for driving under the influence and lost his license for a year. He had to attend meetings afterwards, and he promised he had quit. I hoped he’d learned a lesson from his experiences.
My husband and I prayed without ceasing during this time.
We believed Ben would change his ways. I turned to Jesus and the Bible for comfort and help and found pertinent verses.
“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31 NKJV)
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV)
I wrote them out and stood on their truth. The Lord gave me a sense of peace. Ben improved for a while.
He started school at a community college and did well. Then he moved away with friends, and it turned out to be disastrous. He came home one night and confessed to me he’d done cocaine, but promised to stop.
Ben started to attend church with us and made a strong recommitment to God.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the end of his battle against drug addiction. It became a cycle of repentance, attending church, then sliding down the slippery slope that ended with full blown drug abuse.
This pattern continued for almost ten years.
One day while Ben was living in Florida, he called me and shared an unusual epiphany.
He sought the comfort and safety of home, which turned out to be a good thing. This request to return home occurred after a dangerous encounter with drug dealers and another failure at college.
The next day, I spoke with a pastor who knew Ben. He told me that my son had all the signs of a drug addict. “I think the best thing to do is get your son on a plane and bring him home.” My heart plummeted, but that’s what I did.
Finally, after this whole ordeal, Ben agreed to go to a nearby Christian drug rehab, Transformation Life Center.
This changed his life forever.
He stayed for a year as a client then six months as a house leader. He transformed into a committed believer with a fervency for the Lord. Ben also acquired a deep understanding of the Bible and witnessed wherever he went.
Afterwards, he attended college to become a radiologist technician and was in the National Honor Society. All his teachers loved him. He advanced in his field and now works at a prestigious hospital doing CAT scans. Ben married an Ecuadorian girl and gave my husband and I two beautiful grandchildren.
I attribute all of this to God’s mercy and faithfulness. He heard the cry of my heart and answered our prayers.
If you are struggling with a prodigal child, stand on the Word of God, keep praying, and know there is hope in Jesus Christ.
Anita Estes is an art teacher, writer, and avid gardener. As an educator, she was honored in “Who’s Who of American Teachers” in 2000 and 2005. Her work appears in several devotionals and compilations. She is the author of “When God Speaks: 40 Days and Nights of His Promises” and “Transformed—Inspiring Stories of Freedom.” Her book, “Letters to God on a Prodigal Son,” was released in March, 2011. Connect with Anita at www.anitaestes.com and her blog: Freedom from Addictions. Follow her on Goodreads, Twitter, and Facebook.
Letters to God on a Prodigal Son is the poignant, true story of a parent’s journey through the minefield of her adult child’s addiction. It is the heartfelt cry of a mother who finds peace in the midst of her tsunami and discovers the secret of victorious prayer. It is a potent journal packed with prayers, practical advice and key spiritual insights. Letters to God will encourage and help those who are dealing with prodigals and troubled youth of all sorts.
Excerpts from Letters to God on a Prodigal Son, Overcoming Addiction Through Prayer
“The earth trembled beneath my feet again. I thought our prodigal son, Ben, was back on solid ground, but things are looking shaky.
I need Your help. Please show me what to do. Ben just called in a panic from school and upset me. The semester’s just begun and he’s already having problems—the teacher kicked him out of class!”
Lessons Learned: Ben’s panic and lack of money were warning signs of a deeper problem. Because I didn’t know the root cause, I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt and not jump to conclusions. I didn’t know Ben wasn’t really ready to handle a school over a thousand miles away.
Flirting with Addiction
A Rollercoaster of Emotions
I’m caught up in a tornado of emotions I don’t know how to get out. Everywhere I turn, there’s a problem. Ben told me that he wasn’t going to do drugs any more, but can I believe him? If we pull him out of school, we’ll waste $20,000 dollars and three years heading towards this destination swallowed up in a snap! If we leave him there, the problem may get worse. What should we do Lord? Keep him there or pull him out? Even my husband, Holbrook, agrees that it’s time for me to go down and see what’s up.
I don’t know where we went wrong. We sent him to a Christian school, raised him in a Christian home, and I stayed home to be with him instead of going to work. How did this happen? He told me he stopped smoking pot. Maybe he did for a while, but he always seems to start up again. I thought things were good with him before he left for Radiology school. This was such a great opportunity for him to get into the field he wanted. Maybe it was a mistake to send him down there, too many temptations. I hope this is just a little slip up, and he’ll get back on track.”
Scriptures and Promises: During this time, fear and doubt haunted me. I continually talked to God and tried to hold on to some promises. My stomach flip-flopped, though I believed God could work on Ben and put him on the right path. These verses helped me from falling into despair:
- “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3). This was a far cry from the actual situation, but I was learning, step by step, to trust God and believe He would eventually transform this terrible mess into something good. It took a lot of time in prayer before I could feel at peace with myself and God.
- “God works all things together for good for those who are called according to his purposes” (Romans 12:1). Though I wavered in this belief, I always came back to it. No matter what Ben went though, God could work it out for good. The problem was: would Ben allow God to work in his life? I hoped so.
- “And my God shall supply all my needs according to his riches and glory” (Philippians 4:19). God’s supplies are abundant, and I called upon Him day and night to get me through this emotional time and to keep me from getting really depressed.
- “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5).This was one of my all time favorite verses, and it helped me to stay sane when I just didn’t understand why Ben was making such a major mistake in his life.
Suggestions: Don’t be too quick to believe your adult or teenage child is telling you the truth and the situation isn’t as severe as you think. Addictions usually follow cycles of ups and downs, which can fool us into thinking they are doing better. It is best to be conservative when assessing progress. In these instances, actions most definitely speak louder than words. Let them truly prove they have changed. Addicts are very good at manipulating situations in their favor, especially with family members, so be cautious.
Join the conversation. Can you add any advice to help those who deal with a loved one’s drug addiction? How about a verse to offer hope to those amid this very difficult trial in their family?
Please share this story of victory with your friends. You never know who is suffering in silence and will be encouraged not to give up.