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My Greatest Fear
What I always feared has happened to me. What I dreaded has come true.
Job 3:25
 
It was a sunny, summer Monday afternoon two days after my 46th birthday when the call came.  The voicemail from the county prison out of state said “We have your son.”  When I spoke with the jail counselor later  she told me that “he was in a camera cell, on suicide watch because he appeared to be coming down from something."  She said he wasn’t allowed to make a phone call. 
I lost my mind. Shame overwhelmed me.  How could this have happened?
 
 And then it hit me ... it had to be drugs.  Those feelings I'd had that something wasn't right, the times that drugs crossed my mind but I'd brushed them off,  all the times we struggled to make sense of cruel, unexplainable behavior… if it was anyone else, I would have connected the dots.  But my kid? No. He was intelligent, ambitious, and charismatic. He was too smart to do something so dumb.  AND WE WERE A NICE CHRISTIAN FAMILY.  Things like this weren’t supposed to happen to people like us. We love our kids. We go to church, and we try hard to do the right thing. 
 
My chest tightened.  “HIS LIFE IS OVER.” I thought. “Our lives are over.  There's NO way that this can ever be okay.”
 
In a flash I saw everything end. I imagined us losing all of our friends. I saw my 12 year old daughter alone and bullied.  I saw my 20 year old son overdosing and dying.  I saw myself unable to live without him. My  marriage would end. I would die alone….    
I had been championing God with my life and my business (for Gods sake) - and now this?!!!  I got so  pissed off that for a minute I was done with God too.   
 
But wait. I couldn’t lose God on top of everything else.  I couldn’t lose the deepest love I’d ever known. 
I thought of the verses:
 
“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” 
Matthew 17:20
 
Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. 
 Psalm 37:4
 
I decided that I had a mustard seed of faith left; so I would thank Him and trust Him.  
 
Through tears and snot, in crushing pain, and with a shaking ( sarcastic) voice  I said out loud THANK YOU JESUS. Thank you that my son is in Lackawanna County Prison. Thank you that he has been arrested and is on suicide watch. Thank you that hes still so high he cant make a phone call. Thank you that hes in trouble and that were going to lose everything we love and everything weve  worked for.  I dont see how any good could ever come from this, but I trust you."
 
I prayed deeply and fervently, day and night, and I saw God roll out the red carpet for us. He opened our eyes, strengthened us, and showed us the way. I flew to Pennsylvania, fought for a bed in a rehab, and prayed circles around the courthouse. While I was doing that, my son was penning a letter to me from jail on a toilet tissue wrapper.  He told me he'd been drowning in drugs and wanted help.   At the hearing, the judge dropped the charges and allowed him to go to rehab.  
 
As my son got help in the months that followed, I saw my prayers shift.  Long hours of writing in my prayer journal “God, please help my son.” turned into “God, please help me.”  And He did.  He unravelled my life and everything I knew deep in my bones. He showed me my part in my son’s addiction, and revealed my workaholism and codependency. 
 
I remember the afternoon the realization hit me.  I fell to the floor, doubled over in pain, and cried out "GOD! I CAN’T CARRY THIS!!!  I CAN’T LIVE WITH THIS KNOWING!!!  If the love in my bones for him is what messed him up - WE ARE SO SCREWED! The pain was excruciating.  I wanted to drink, smoke, purge, cut myself & die.  
 
And then suddenly, a warm wave of peace washed over me.  
 
I felt chains I didn’t know I had disintegrate and fall away from my body.  I got the sense that I was being forgiven for all my mistakes (past, present and future) and that everything was going to be okay. 
 
The trajectory of our lives changed in that moment.  My son started getting a lot better, a lot faster (and I don’t think it was a coincidence). And for me, it was the realization of Jesus’s teaching “lose your life to find it”: because when I broke, He was there, and it was magnificent.  
 
For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, 
but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 
Matthew 16:25
 
My son is 3 years clean now, and I love what we’ve learned and who we’ve become.  I walk courageously now with peace and confidence that is unshakeable.  
 
I want to leave you with an interesting discovery I made during my recovery.  I found a journal I’d kept during my pregnancy (in 1996) where I had answered the prompt “What is my greatest fear?”. When I l reread my words all these years later, I saw that my worst fear had come upon me, despite my life long dedication (as a mother) to stop it from happening.
 
The realization was profound.  We can go to church, and pray, and believe in God - but if we are harboring a fear, and working to protect ourselves from it- it comes upon us.
 
What I always feared has happened to me. What I dreaded has come true.
Job 3:25
And so, if you are going through a hard time (or even if you aren’t) I would urge you to SURRENDER.  Surrender your pain today, the worries for the future, and most especially your fears from the past.  
 
We don’t have to try to make everything and everyone okay.
We don’t have to prove ourselves worthy.
We’re already loved, chosen, forgiven, and free  because JESUS.
 
 Some of the Face Scripture graphics I created to help me pray. 
 
 
Flying home to Florida (and to rehab #2) , August 2017
 
Author Bio:  Sarah Faulkner is the jewelry artist behind Milk Velvet Pearls. She uses the symbolism of the pearl to express beauty born from struggle; and the radical transformation of her life by faith. She is the mother of an opioid addict (3 years clean); and a brain aneurysm rupture survivor. She shares her stories of grace as evidence of the power of prayer; and is on a mission to encourage others to draw nearer to God. Sarah lives with her husband and daughter in Safety Harbor, FL.

Comments

Twila Mills:

Thank you ever so much. I truly appreciate you for sharing this with us. Words can’t express what I’m feeling at this moment. My heart is truly full right now. You are truly a woman of strength. Love you with all my heart.

Aug 27, 2020

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