Reason for Hope
Guideposts|August/September 2021
I feared my son would never get off drugs. Until an art class changed my heart
HEATHER HENRY
My heart broke a little with each step my 18-year-old son took toward the white Volkswagen idling in the dark at the end of our neat suburban driveway. I’d never felt so powerless.

He climbed into the car, his shoulders slumped. He looked so sad. I took my husband David’s hand and squeezed hard. Together we watched the taillights fade into the darkness.

“What if we never see him again?” I said, my voice hoarse with emotion.

“It was his decision,” David said slowly. “He knew the rules.”

We’d given Tim every chance to get clean from drugs and alcohol. All we got in return were two years of lies and half-hearted attempts. Finally we told Tim that if he continued doing drugs he would have to move out. He defiantly refused to quit. This time, we insisted he take an at-home drug test. It came back positive. Tim went to his room and called his girlfriend. Then he packed a bag and left.

David was right: Tim was an adult. Our son had made a choice—drugs over his family. I cried for days afterward, but other emotions surfaced through the tears. Anger. Resentment. Over and over, I justified our ultimatum to Tim, as if to trying to convince my heart. He knew the rules. How could he do this to our family? To himself? He was becoming someone I didn’t recognize and couldn’t stand it. Other times, I felt guilty. How could I not have caught this? I worried Tim would die and I’d never see him again.

Tim was the second of four children, spiritually mature at a young age. He got baptized in our church as a teenager, never missed youth group, studied his Bible. Then he turned 16. And everything changed.

I tried to chalk it up to typical teenager angst, yet a nagging sense told me this was something more. He seemed depressed, and I grew increasingly concerned. One day, I opened his phone and read through his messages. I didn’t feel as if I had a choice. To my horror, I scrolled through text after text about smoking pot. Worst of all, they were all from older kids in youth group.

David and I confronted Tim that evening. “I’m not going to stop!” he said. “Even my teacher says smoking pot is better than drinking alcohol.” He turned and retreated into his room, into himself.

Loving Christian families didn’t have kids doing drugs. What would people think? I was filled with anger at the friends who had introduced him to drugs.

Tim grew more distant from us, like a kite being torn from our hands by an unyielding wind. Getting kicked out of high school? Check. Staying out all night without telling us where he was or who he was with, or lying about it? Check. Endlessly protesting that he wasn’t addicted to drugs when we knew he was? Check. It was a list we thought happened to other families, not ours.

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