My son, Brad, is another year older today but this birthday marks way more than a year’s worth of growing.
For the previous 10 years Brad lost track of who he was and wandered from one mishap to another, eventually ending up with an addiction problem, legal troubles and many strained relationships–not the least of which was ours.
A year ago as a family we realized Brad needed help and began to plan an intervention. Tough as it was, we were preparing to give him the ultimatum: Choose life and we will walk alongside you, or continue this path of destruction on your own. We wrote letters, searched out potential rehab programs, prepared our ‘bottom lines’ and prayed fervently. Liz, my eldest daughter, and I were charged with searching out rehab programs and found ourselves one afternoon asking, “How does one experience the forgiveness needed to overcome the shame, and experience the freedom from addiction except through Christ?” We wanted Brad to be free from the bondage of the addiction, yet he made it VERY clear to us that God, Jesus, and anything having to do with faith was just a crutch and clearly (to him) a stupid way to live. We identified a few rehab programs: No Longer Bound in West Georgia and a closer-to-home program in Michigan, and decided they were our best options.
We held an intervention and Brad agreed to go to a nearby detox program…”Yay!” we thought. 4 days later he checked himself out. Devastated by his choice, we issued our bottom lines and Rich dropped him off on a corner in Detroit. Rich looked in the rear view mirror as he drove away, thinking, “This may be the last time I ever see my son alive, or not behind bars.” Weeks passed and we heard little if anything from or about Brad. Then one day he showed up at Rich’s office and said he was done. He wanted to enter a rehab program, and he wanted to go to the one in Georgia…a Christ-centered program. Not what we expected to hear from Brad, but exactly what we had prayed for!
It was not an easy start. The 3 day trip down and back to Georgia that Rich had planned took 9 days. But despite the delays, Brad was accepted and on that October day, began the journey we had hoped for.
For 2 months we had no direct contact with Brad. We could call down to the program and the most we would hear was that he was still there. That was all we needed to know! Just before Christmas each of us, Rich, Liz, Maggie, myself and even the dog, received the first personal communication from Brad…intimate letters with updates, reflections, and apologies. We took turns reading them (between sobs) to each other and sharing them with friends and family. My favorite line in my letter is, “Oh yeah, I love going to church now. I HAVE BEEN SAVED…” Now you may begin to see what we have to celebrate!
For me this year has been a reminder of God’s faithfulness. For years my prayer had been that Brad would be surrounded by Godly men who could speak Truth into his life and for the first time, (well after I had hoped, yet perfectly timed), this prayer was being answered. Not only that, but Brad was listening, hearing and responding. My son is now a Christ-follower, has been drug-free for 9 1/2 months, and as he told us on our last visit in mid-July, “I have never been happier in my whole life!”
This year has everlasting value and we truly have something to celebrate. Thank you God for loving my son back to us.
Happy Birthday, Brad! You have LOTS to celebrate this year.