Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I urge you to read this one to the end before you pass judgment on me.

Confession—I regularly break the tenth commandment. Whew! That felt good. Confession IS good for the soul.

I understand most of you know what the 10 Commandments are, but you may need a refresher on which “Thou Shalt Not” is covered in the last law. I confess that I (big breath) covet. I want what others have.

I envy swimming pools. Well, more specifically—people who have swimming pools. I am jealous of you lucky ones who can walk out your door at any time of the day or night and swim, float on, sit in, or otherwise enjoy any body of water. If you live on an island with a warm ocean outside your door, be assured I am extra jealous of you!

But wait, there’s more!

What causes me to be a big time commandment breaker is my envy of relationships. I know people who have unconditionally supportive, non-judgmental, through-thick-and-thin, walk-through-the-fire, defenders of truth kinda friends.

My “friends” gossiped, judged, accused, and abandoned me when I needed them the most.

When a mom gives birth to a premature sick child, her friends rally with meals, house cleaning duties, and prayer. When a child is stricken with a serious disease or dies a premature death, the parents are embraced and loved. No one would dare blame the mom and dad for their heartbreak.

Being the mother of a prodigal child is a lonely business.

Here are just some of the “encouraging” words I’ve received during my journey:

“You need to give up on your child. He made his choice when he was nine years old.”

“If you give custody of your daughter over to the state, you will no longer be financially responsible for the cost of her rehab.”

“You should never have gone to work in the theatre.”

“What’s happening to your kids is your fault.”

And my favorite…

“Liz Stoeckel let her kids take drugs.”

The mom of a prodigal child has many of the same needs and concerns as the mom of a sick or dying child. Our days are filled with appointments, phone calls, and unforeseen emergencies. We have financial worries and emotional stresses. Our marriages suffer—sometimes they end. It seems that every phone call and mail delivery brings bad news. Every morning we wake knowing this could be the day our child dies from the disease of drug addiction.

Are you still with me? I want you to hear this; while I freely confess to my friend envy, I must admit that I’m glad it worked out the way it did. I’ve had the amazing privilege of meeting some incredible moms who, like me, have been abandoned by people who believe that drug addiction is an infectious disease. If I hadn’t had so many empty holes in my life and in my heart, I wouldn’t have had room for these great women. I would’ve missed the blessing of walking with them through their prodigal crisis.

I had lunch with a friend last week and she acknowledged that having a drug-addicted child is “different” from having a sick child. People underestimate the needs and concerns of the family of an addict. We judge and condemn the family of an addict.

Do you know the parent of a prodigal? Give them a call, drop them a line, or pay them a visit. They are most likely feeling isolated and alone and it would mean so much to them if they knew you were out there.

Okay…now that I’ve worked through my friend envy, I just need to figure out how to stop coveting your swimming pools. Man, it’s always something!

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