The Pain and Perfection of Waiting

by Teresa Holderby with Dave Franco | August 4, 2019

We didn’t know...but truth is, we sort of did. I think it was the kind of thing that was so terrifying that if we actually looked our son in the eyes and let ourselves accept that he was a drug addict and a dealer, and see all his erratic and scary behavior for what it was, it would be too much. And so we just told ourselves that as a teenager, he’d grow out of it. We sent him to see a counselor, and that was pretty much it.

Then the mother of one of his friends called with a warning that he was dealing. Then so did the principal of his high school. Then his girlfriend called to say that he told her he was going to kill himself. My husband and I got in our cars and began an awful hunt, crisscrossing town to find our boy before the EMTs did. It was the ultimate wakeup call.

Ultimately, my husband found him in an utterly trashed house, with the front door wide open, and he the only one there, lying on the dilapidated couch, high out of his mind. When we got him home, we weren’t exactly sure what to do. So we called his counselor. “Call the police,” he told us. “Have them come and arrest him. You’ve got to get him in the system to save him.”

“Arrest him? On what charge?”

“He’s been stealing from you, right?”

We started to add up all the things that had been missing from our house, and when we were forced to look at it, it was undeniable. He had been stealing from us for a long time. 

When the cops arrived and put him in cuffs, it was a horrible moment. He couldn’t believe that his parents had orchestrated his seizure. He called out from the back seat of the police car, “Please, mom. Come get me. Don’t do this to me!” I crumbled into a ball of mush. This was my little boy.

He couldn’t believe that his parents had orchestrated his seizure. He called out from the back seat of the police car.

When he called from jail, he couldn’t believe that weren’t merely just trying to scare him. When he wanted us to come get him, we told him that he had gotten himself in there, now it was up to him to get himself out. After a week, he was released, and he found himself some meth and a motel room, trashed the room and threatened an older couple. But this was just the beginning. The tragic cycle of getting released and then thrown back in jail happened three times in all. It was excruciating to stand and watch. He wasn’t just a wayward child. He was a ticking time bomb.   

A person very close to me took me aside to deliver his perspective. “Honey,” he said, “he’s a lost cause now. You just need to turn your back and forget him.” It added even more hopelessness to my aching heart.

Now, facing serious prison time, we asked the district attorney if he could seek a sentence that would allow him to be committed to a treatment facility instead. He agreed provided we found one outside of California—they were through with him. Our counselor told us our only chance to survive it would be to make sure that the facility was far away. We found one in Louisiana.

My husband flew him to Louisiana, dropped him off and then returned home to our devastated and exhausted household. We all, including our two younger sons, had been through so much pain because of him. We were desperate for some healing. 

A friend of mine mentioned that he knew of a pastor who offered people like us—desperate—a lot of hope and that we should hear him speak. All four of us showed up at Horizon Christian Fellowship to hear from this pastor, Miles McPherson, eager to hear what he might say. We listened to the message of hope in Jesus Christ, and we were 100% sold. We each gave our lives to Jesus that very morning. One and done.

In the days that followed, we were just bursting with new life in Christ. Then Ronnie, my husband, and I felt God was telling us the same message. Just pray, God seemed to be saying, and I will do the rest. 

It was such good news. For so long we ran ourselves ragged wondering what in the world we could do next to save our boy. We carried that burden from the moment we woke up to the time we fell asleep. What a blessed thing to know that it was in God’s control and that he would be delivering our son back to us soon.

Only, it didn’t quite work out that way. One heart-wrenching year turned into two, which turned into three, which turned into four, five, and six. During that span of years, there were multiple times when he fell so far out of line with what we thought the plan was—like getting back into drug use and getting kicked out of facilities—that we had to ask ourselves, “Didn’t God promise to take care of the problem? Why is He waiting so long?

We had to ask ourselves, “Didn’t God promise to take care of the problem? Why is He waiting so long?

Finally, there came an answer: surrender. God impressed upon me that I had to take my hands off of our son and give him completely into His hands. It forced me into a new prayer life. From, save our son, to help me let him go. 

The result was a purging of all my pent up frustrations and fears. Where before I walked around like a clenched fist, I was finally free to feel some peace. I began to change as a person, and I began to smile more. I began to have a life apart from my troubles. I had a confidence about me that people began to notice.

Finally, after spending two years clean and living in a halfway house, he called and said he wanted to come back. “Sure,” I said, thrilled at the prospect. “Just find your way here, secure a job and a place to live. And then you can come be a part of us again.”

People wondered why we played such hard ball with him. The answer is easy, hard as it was to apply. We had to allow him to put the finishing touches on the person he was growing to be.

He did exactly as we asked. And the most amazing thing happened. When he came back into the house, the thing that had changed the most “You’re all so different these days. What has gotten into you?”

Boy did we have a lot to tell. After a time, he too wanted what we had, and he gave his life to Jesus. He ultimately got married, and we now have two beautiful granddaughters.

And while we are more than thrilled at his transformed life, I now see why God made us wait so long. He used it to transform Ronnie and me into people who had no option but to surrender everything to Him. In that time, we witnessed to all of our extended family and invited them to church, and amazingly, 11 of them have come to Christ. Through our son’s terrible troubles, he has transformed our family. Talk about redemption. Talk about grace. Talk about flowers from ashes.

Today I help run the Women’s Ministry at the Rock, and my husband runs the Men’s. Had it not been for God forcing us to our knees in a posture of total surrender, none of that would have happened. 

Isaiah 40:31

But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.


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