By Jan-Marie WatersLike many families today, my husband Wayne and I faced the challenges of a blended family. One of our greatest struggles was with our eldest son. As a young teenager he was resentful and rebellious which caused great mayhem in our home. We tried many avenues of help: individual counseling, family counseling, Outward Bound, hospitalization, residential rehabilitation, therapy, clergy counseling. Sadly nothing made a noticeable difference. Wayne and I spent many tearful nights in prayer --with little apparent result.
Eventually our wayward son moved to California. The little contact we had with him was fraught with conflict and reproaches.
One day, our son could not be reached; not by email, not by telephone. He was just gone. I left message after message. Occasionally, I received a brief call with no information about his circumstances – then, nothing. I was distraught. I began to have anxiety attacks and became severely depressed. Despite everything, I had lost my beloved firstborn.
I knew I had to survive for Wayne and our younger son. I began to pray. I prayed fervently and persistently. Then, one night, I prayed for my son as if he had died. Indeed, he was as lost to us as if he had died. I asked Jesus to take my child to Himself and to love him and protect him for somehow we had failed to do so. I prayed the Lord’s forgiveness for my shortcomings as a parent and for my part in the unhappiness that had plagued our home. I prayed to the Holy Spirit to let my child, wherever he was, feel my love for him in his heart – even though I truly believed that I would never see or hear from him again.
And then, I went on. Our family went on. Life went on. Not easily or comfortably, but it went on. Time passed.
One evening, the phone rang. When I answered, it was our son. I heard, “I have tried to put you out of my life. I even moved to Europe to get away from you. But, for some reason that I don’t understand, I find that I need you in my life in some way. I don’t know why, and I don’t think it will do any good. But, I’m calling you anyway.”
Life began again. We were resurrected as a family. Many conversations, changes, transitions have occurred since that time – too many to share here.
Recently, we spent a week together. All of us. Dad, Mom, brothers, children, wives and girlfriends. Happily, peacefully, hopefully and gratefully together. A family. Thanks be to God!