On August 23, 2013 (1 year ago today as I write this), I took a ride in an ambulance with my oldest son Neal in the back. I couldn't believe what was happening, my 16 year old son, whom I loved so much, had taken pills.
For a year prior to this night, I could feel that Neal was being attacked. I know Satan is out there trying to take all believers down, but I can't explain it, I could just feel that Satan was pestering Neal even more than others. About a year and a half before this Neal had started to go public with his faith in Jesus. He was posting scripture on Facebook and wanting to start a Bible study at school. Neal has tons of charisma and Satan knew that if Neal really got on fire for God he could have a huge impact. So Satan wouldn't leave him alone.
When other things in Neal's life started to fall apart he was weakened and started to believe the lies he was hearing from Satan. Neal was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease in May, was told he needed major shoulder surgery in June (no sports for a long time), he had to quit his job he loved because of his surgery, he had some girl issues, he started doing things he knew he shouldn't be doing, he got 2 speeding tickets which cost him quite a bit of money (nothing reckless but still speeding) - even with all this going on, the life presented to the world made it look like he had it all together. He didn't know what to do when he felt like things were falling apart around him. No one, including me knew how much it was affecting him.
Neal didn't know what to do with all these feelings and one night, August 23rd, he took Ambian (my husband had them in his office for international travel). He didn't want to lay in bed thinking about all these things, he just wanted to forget it all. Thankfully, we found out he had taken some pills and when we went to him he was completely out of it.
Worse moment in my life!!
I just remember shouting out to God. "Please God save him". We didn't know how much he had taken and immediately called 911. Thankfully, Neal had taken 3 Ambian and not the whole bottle. It wasn't enough to cause damage to his body. He slept it off in the hospital without the need of medical help. As he laid there sleeping I stared at him in shock. It broke my heart to know my son was so unhappy. He was admitted to the psyche ward of the hospital. I can't explain what it was like to visit him there. He couldn't wear shoes because of the danger of shoelaces, they ripped the ribbon out of the Bible I gave him because it was considered dangerous, he couldn't be alone with his guitar because of the strings.... it was so surreal.
After 4 days in the hospital he came home and I remember thinking now what??? Do we just return to life as normal? So thankful that he was at a Christian school and we met with the councilor who was awesome. We also found a Christian therapist. This wonderful man loved Neal, truly loved Neal and helped him so much. Neal learned to forgive himself and most importantly learned how loved he was by God.
Since then we have seen Romans 8:28 lived out. "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them”
What Satan meant for harm God used to move Neal to the man God created him to be. Through this low point in Neal’s life he learned that although he knew all about God and the Bible, he didn’t really know Him. He allowed God into all parts of his life and felt the love God had for him.
"Painful lessons open the doors for new opportunities."
Neal started to speak out about his experience at school and at his youth group (the video at the end of my workout was part of the video he made for his youth group). Several parents have told my husband and I about the impact Neal has had on their kids lives. Neal could feel their pain, he’d been there and was able to share his story.
Listen to how amazing God is - I was talking to Paula about sharing Neal’s story on TV (Neal had already said he was good with me sharing it). I told her I only wanted to share it if it could help others. I told her I was praying about it and waiting for an answer. As soon as we hung up I looked at my email and one just came in from Neal’s school counselor. He said there was a student who was depressed and they asked Neal to speak with him. The counselor said it brought tears to his eyes to see Neal talking so lovingly to this boy and how great God was to use Neal in this way.
I had my answer - share Neal’s story. If you are going through challenges please know that God is right there by you and He loves you so much. Reach out and let people know about your pain. You might understand why you had to go through a painful situation but like Neal said in this video, “it’s a workout for your religion, you go through all this pain and you come out stronger”
This isn't the script I would have written for Neal's life but once again I am reminded, God is good - All the time!