It was a chaotic, wrenching time for our family. My son, Erik, was horribly addicted to drugs and alcohol. My husband and I were at our wits' end and Erik’s addiction was adversely impacting everyone in our home. We had tried counseling, treatment centers, rehab and … nothing.
I couldn’t sleep — not that it mattered since I was spending most of my nights on my knees praying — pleading, puzzled, angry, sad, begging, sobbing. I even reached that intellectual place where I had steeled myself for a police visit telling me my son was dead. Although, let’s be honest, no one can ever really get to that place until they … get to that place.
And why one child, teen or adult lives and another dies, will ever perplex mankind because, “(In this life) we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; (in the next life) we shall see face to face. (In this life) I know in part; (in the next life) I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12, NIV).
For us, that call from the police never came (although over half of Erik’s friends from that time have since died). What happened to Erik?
For my daughter Emily's birthday I set up a text stream for her siblings and their spouses to share memories of Emily. It included tender, funny, hysterical texts and pictures that had me laughing — but this one had me in tears — of gratitude. Erik wrote:
“I can remember back when things were not so good in my life, haha. I was 18 or 19 and had the horrifying idea of killing myself by gassing myself in the garage. Emily, love you Emily, was on the other side of town and said that she just got a feeling that she should head to mom and dad’s house (when they were not there). Just so happens that she walked into the house and came into the garage, just as I was starting to fade in and out of consciousness in the garage trying to kill myself. So, Emily, thank you for hearing God and obeying and being used by God to save my life. Thank you for always believing in me! Thank you for loving me! And thank you for being a fantastic friend. And you are one of the best moms I know! Love you!”
In the April general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brother Tad R. Callister, who was recently released as the general Sunday School president, quoted Truman G. Madsen: “If there are some of you who have been tricked into the conviction that you have gone too far. … I bear testimony that you cannot sink farther than the light and sweeping intelligence of Jesus Christ can reach. I bear testimony that as long as there is one spark of the will to repent and to reach, he is there. He did not just descend to your condition; he descended below it” (see "The Atonement of Jesus Christ," April 2019, general conference).
Erik descended deeper and deeper into addiction, wracked by self-loathing and despair, yet he had been taught as a child and teenager of the love of the Savior Jesus Christ. Emily’s prayers — the prayers of family and friends — and Emily obeying the promptings of the Holy Ghost, began Erik’s rescue. A few years and a couple more rehab stints later he hit rock bottom, and knowing he could not win the battle alone, Erik turned to, reached, grasped and clung to the Savior’s outstretched hand. Erik manifest “one spark of the will to repent and to reach,” and the Savior was there.
Elder Kyle S. McKay, a General Authority Seventy, taught in his April general conference talk "The Immediate Goodness of God," "The immediate goodness of God comes to all who call upon him with real intent and full purpose of heart. This includes those who cry out in earnest desperation, when deliverance seems so distant and suffering seems prolonged.”
Hundreds of thousands can testify “of the immediate goodness of God (in their lives) and his power (to deliver) from bondage. … Jesus will stretch forth his hand and (catch) sinking soul(s).” I so testify.
As the song "AmazingGrace" says, my son Erik who “once was lost … now (is) found.”He and his wonderful wife have two beautiful little boys. He is doing good in the world: using his life’s experiences to testify of Jesus Christ; teaching individuals how to live positive, healthy, successful personal and professional lives; mentoring, counseling and helping addicts free themselves from various addictions.
President Russell M. Nelson bore testimony of the Savior’s incalculable love for each of us in his remarks during the Sunday morning session in the April conference and declared, “Jesus Christ … is our Redeemer, our Healer and our Savior.” (See “Come, Follow Me,” April 2019 general conference.) He is there to rescue those in need. He “will stretch forth his hand" and catch us as we reach for him.