A knock came at the door. I rolled over and groaned. The clock read 3:30 am. It was a loud, familiar knock and not the first time I would be awakened in the middle of the night. Nor, I suspected, would it be the last. I pulled myself out of bed, took and deep breath and headed for the door with a whispered, ‘God, grant me strength.’
My son had a habit of showing up at the oddest times. I hugged him as he entered, checking to make sure he was ok, well, as ok as one could be given his circumstances. The all too familiar mantra followed. ‘Grab a bite, have a shower, get some sleep, and we’ll talk in the morning.’
I watched as he walked to the kitchen. The enemy didn’t think I saw them, but they were not invisible to me. I always saw the demons he had attached to my son and knew when they entered my house. “You are not welcomed in my house; leave,” I whispered. “Depart demons from my son and go.”
This was my struggle, my cross, and I bore it well some days and failed to carry it others. Again, I whispered, “God, grant me strength. Remove the darkness that is clinging to my child.”
Sleep would not come easy. I heard the dishes clattering in the sink, followed shortly by the shower turning on and then off again. Within minutes I knew my grown child was fast asleep. There was some comfort in knowing he was safe for tonight. I would chat for a while with God until the darkness that clung in the air subsided.
Some visits would go well, and we would be a regular family, having fun times and honest discussions. Games would be played, laughter freely given, and time together well shared. Most visits, though, did not fare as well. They would be full of anger, hurtful words and sadness. I never knew which I would get, and this time was no different.
Drugs and alcohol are dangerous demons for one struggling with mental health. It is a battle my child has faced for too many years. A war that would continue until something changed. Only he could push the demons away and walk forward in light and love. He had to reach back toward God and trust Him to provide the strength and healing needed.
The morning proved to be uneventful. There was a quietness to my son as if he was afraid to speak. Perhaps he too wanted a good visit, where we could feel normal and just ‘be’ with each other. Sadly, moods change, and hurtful words fly.
“God, grant me strength.” A mantra unto itself that, when said, provides me much comfort.
I can always tell when the enemy appears, and my son fades into the background. His eyes change, and there is a sudden shift. Why the enemy thinks I cannot see him is beyond me. I know my son, every inch, every smile and every mood. He is always there in the background when the enemy takes over, hurting and alone, huddled like a lost child in the rain.
If only my love were enough to be the umbrella, he needed to shelter him from this storm. Alas, it is not. All I can do is continue to open my door, hug him and let him know I love him. I have tried many different ways to reach my son and help him, but there is nothing I can do that will make a difference. So I love him, pray, and wait.
People often wonder how I keep going. The answer is always the same. God gives me strength. God is the rock on which I stand, and He carries me when I cannot stand on my own. He is my shield, my armour, and He protects me against the spiritual spears the demon throws my way.
I sat staring out the window as illogical ramblings carried through the airwaves. Too often, lately, I cry, I thought to myself. Any mother hurting for her child has cried. A mother who has dealt with addiction in their child intimately knows my sorrow. There is a piece missing, broken within me that will only be repaired when the spiritual war is over, and light has prevailed. I shield this piece of me from the outer world as much as possible. This place within is fragile and tender.
I often smile, too, because I know we must find joy every day. It is in the living where we give birth to the joys that are ours. Happiness is a choice. I remind myself of this when times are bad and stressful. Looking at my agitated son, all I could think was that today, it seemed, would be a day of tears.
He walked further into the kitchen, and I knew instantly that my son was in the background. Words flew at me, intending to hurt and shake my faith. Again, I prayed, “God, grant me strength,” and raised my invisible spiritual shield for the barrage headed my way.
“I love you.”
He looked shocked at first. Then grew angry. The enemy hates pure love. My words were greeted with snarls and hurtful words.
“You don’t know, love,” he spewed. It went downhill from there, but I know these are not my true son’s words. These are the words of an enemy who loses his battle with me over and over again.
Occasionally objects are hurled in my direction in the ruse of ‘fun.’ There is no fun in hurtful actions, only abuse. Someone hurting trying to hurt another and pull them down into their world of misery. This is a game I do not play.
“Stop!” It comes out louder than I expected but has the desired action, if only for a few seconds. He ramps up further and continues. Again, a bit more loudly, “Stop.” My hand flies forward, trying to block the object hurled in my direction. Too slow. It hits the mark, bruising more than the physical. My heart shatters a little more in the space reserved for him.
He leaves, kicking objects in his path as he goes down into the basement, where he can unleash his frustration. I know that somewhere deep within, he does not want to hurt me. He loves me in his own way.
“I forgive you,” I whisper in the air.
“Arghhhhh!” The muffled scream reaches my ears. No pillow is thick enough to hide the pain revealing itself as anger. It is a cry of a child in sorrow who knows he has lost control mixed with the frustrated sounds of the enemy who does not want me to forgive. His is a losing battle, for I will forgive him always, and my faith will not be shattered.
“Bring him peace, Lord. Let him rest.”
Soon he is asleep. The more rest he gets, the calmer he is. There is a reprieve for a short while. Tension runs through every fibre of my being. It will not dissipate until he leaves and continues on his journey.
A few days pass. When alcohol and drugs are absent, they are somewhat peaceful days. Unfortunately, this time would not be one of those times. I longed for a day when I would not worry, for I knew it served no purpose and accomplished nothing.
Day turned to night and night to day. We were on rinse and repeat mode. Drink, eat, pass out and fight the enemy at large in between. Over and over, I searched for the right words. Words that would heal and help. When they wouldn’t come, I would remain silent and withdraw, leaving God to fight the battle.
On my wall hangs the Serenity Prayer. My son gave it to me one Christmas when he was living sober. It is a constant prayer in the heart of my house, but none is greater than these words, “God grant me strength.” I know that there is no path I can’t walk if He is with me. He sees my pain and knows my sorrow. To Him, I hand my worry.
The time arrives for me to drive him back. It is an empty drive. Occasionally he sleeps but not this time. This time the enemy rants the entire drive. One and half hours of ranting, silent prayers and racked nerves. He hugs me and whispers, “I love you. “I love you too,” I respond.
Sadly, I watch as he walks away, away from me and towards a store where he will beg for money to feed his demons. He lives on the streets, wandering as he goes. Once again, I feel failure rising within me. “Forgive me for failing him,” I pray as tears begin to well and silently fall.
“It is not your failing,” I hear. “He chooses his path, and only he can change the direction.”
I know God understands when I hear Him, but my heart does not let me feel the words. Deep within, I hold my failures close. One by one, I release them. This is a harder one to release, but God is patient with me.
I look in the rearview mirror. My son is no longer in sight. I sigh as I drive further away, not knowing when or if I will see him again. Tears slowly subside, and I crank up the music to drown out my sorrow.
This road is rocky, but my shoes are sturdy, even when the ground shakes beneath me. I know there is a plan that I cannot see or understand. It doesn’t matter what it is. My pieces are revealed when it is their time. Until then, I wait for awareness and pray.
Tonight, like every other night, I thank Him for watching over my son and ask for angels to watch over him and demons to be removed. It is His time, His plan, not mine. There are more battles ahead of me, but I will face them as they come, for I know He hears and answers when I ask, “God, grant me strength.”
If you liked this faith story you can find others on the Faith Stories link of Leslie’s website.