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The Calhoun’s Story

Our family was probably just like many you know or see at church. A beautiful girl, a handsome boy, and two loving parents. Had you seen us, you would have thought we were the All-American family. We did all the things we were supposed to do as “good parents”. We were involved in our children’s lives, attended all their events and activities, and were active in our local church. Despite our best efforts, our son began to make bad choices that directly effected his life and our family.

For us, it began with our son smoking marijuana at age 14. He had been a great kid, with a fabulous sister, two loving parents, growing up in a Christian home without tragedy or drama. That’s why the rebellion didn’t seem to make sense. First we thought, well, it’s just marijuana; it will pass. Plus, we caught it within the first couple of weeks, and early intervention is the key, so everything is under control.

However, despite encouragement, prayer, and punishment he continued his path of poor decision making. At age 15, he found his way to the family medicine cabinet. There was the phone call from the high school informing us that he was unconscious and was being transported by ambulance to the local hospital. The drug induced seizure prompted an outpatient drug rehab. We thought for sure that this was “the bottom”. Sadly, it was not.

Next, there was the funeral of a friend, lost at the hands of a “pharm party”. Our son wept as the coffin of his friend rolled past his seat. Surely, this would be “the bottom”.

With full sincerity, our 16 year old son swore to us, “I’m not going to do any more pills. All I’m ever going to do is smoke marijuana.” After much prayer and advice from his therapist we took him to an outdoor therapeutic program where he would receive hands on treatment for the next 12 months. During this time, our relationship and communication improved dramatically. He finished the program, completed his junior year in high school, and made straight A’s! We rejoiced over his achievements, and what the Lord had done!

Back home and over the course of the next few months, he began slipping into old habits with old friends. At age 17 he was arrested for possession of marijuana. When our son was 18, he moved out and continued “just smoking marijuana.”Our relationship and communication remained good for a while, but at age 19, our son began once again to withdraw. Something was different. Something wasn’t right. And we were exhausted, hurt, and confused by this five-year journey.

In our complete desperation, God lead us to a “Surviving a Prodigal” Bible study sponsored by Prodigal Child Ministries. During this time God begin to heal us, and prepare us for the rough road ahead. We learned that despite being a perfect father, God also had prodigals in Adam and Eve, who ignored His instruction the way our son had ignored ours. We learned that letting things go into His hands wasn’t giving up, but was an act of trust and faith. We learned that our trust needed to continue even if our prodigal never came home. We didn’t want to believe he would never come home, but God knows our end from the beginning. While we had been praying desperately for five years, our hope had been for the outcome we envisioned. It was here that we began to pray, “God, do whatever it takes to bring our son home to You!” We knew this was a dangerous prayer!

On October 19, 2010, we received the most terrible phone call any parent could ever receive. Our 19 year old son had died of an accidental drug overdose. Words cannot describe this moment or the wounds it has left behind.

Through many channels, God began to reveal that our son was in heaven! Through the crushing pain of it all, this was the ultimate desire of our hearts! Our son had been saved! Even in our heartbreak, God had not failed us. God had done “whatever it took” and answered our prayer, though not exactly in the way we had wanted. The question for us was, would we still trust God though the result wasn’t what we had envisioned?

Today, we continue to reach out to many prodigal children, some of whom were friends of our son. We are also involved in John and Fair’s Prodigal Child Ministries by routinely leading “Surviving a Prodigal” Bible studies in our home. This study provides some sanity for parents in crisis. God is using this as a tool to provide healing for our wounds as we reach out to these hurting parents. God is in the process of trading beauty for our ashes! We challenge you with the same question which we have been challenged. “Will you trust God despite the result?”

We would like to thank you Fair and John for their obedience to the Master’s call. It has blessed our life and many others.

It would not have been our choice for our story to have had this ending. However, God, in His wisdom and love, has allowed it to be so and we can truly say, “It is well with my soul.” His best efforts never fail.