Wednesday, April 5, 2017

I came to know Sharon Gingerich Stoltzfus‎ through Anthony’s Act, a Facebook group spreading addiction awareness. It has been a real eye-opener for me. Every day I read about the loss of a loved one or someone who is struggling to get clean. When I read Sharon’s story, I immediately understood her heart. We need to love our children unconditionally because we have been loved by our Heavenly Father the same way. I know when my son asked why we didn’t give up on him, we told him of our unconditional love. As I said it to him, it struck me to the core of my being as well. I am loved; therefore, I love in return.

Something else hit home when I read her piece. It is the constant worries about the what-ifs and the regrets we often feel. We wonder if we made too many mistakes while raising them or if the things we couldn’t control made them unmeaning sacrifice. 

Please read her words and share with people who are struggling with a loved one's addiction or their own. 

Dear Son,

I came to the prison today. They won't let me in of course. And there is no way over these high fortress walls. But they can't stop me from sitting outside. From watering the dandelions along the drive with my tears. For being as close to you as I'm allowed to get.

This prison may look like a castle from the outside. But how well I know that the lives of those within are far from a fairytale. I know you never thought you'd end up here. Never once believed that a succession of poor choices would lead to the situation you find yourself in.

You'll never know the agony I felt yesterday when you didn't come home, didn't return my many texts and calls. I was certain that you lay cold and stiff on a floor somewhere. I feared your addiction had played its final toll. Nearly 24 hours after you said goodbye and I finally learned that you were locked up in a cell, I wept tears of relief and gratefulness to know that you were alive and safe.

I stopped by your mother's grave on the way in today. The one who bore you with great labor pains. The one who loved you and never wanted to leave. I wasn't in your life then, when your world fell apart because of cancer when you were only nine. But I've seen your labor pains as you've struggled through the years to cope with your loss, to find joy and peace from the shards of your life. Too often you have turned to mind altering substances. And they change you into someone I don't recognize.
Your father's countenance is fallen, and his step is heavy. We struggle not to let the what-ifs consume our days. Yet the gnaw of regrets wakes us at night.

Our hearts may be heavy, heavy with the weight of your uncertain future. Your difficult journey that lies ahead. The consequences you face are not light. But our hearts are heavy with hope as well, hope that this time you will be brought to the foot of the cross. That you will in your desperation and despondency turn to your Savior, who waits with open and scarred arms. And our hearts are heavy with love for you, my son. Nothing you have done or ever could do can rip that away. We will continue to be here for you, to extend mercy and grace that mirrors our Heavenly Father to the best of our heartbroken ability.

Your life is like as spring time. This detour need not define you. You can find your dreams again and live them. We believe in you. We love you.

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