Pray and Persist: The Keys to Advocating for Adolescents


Flashbacks by Proxy

The hiss of the bus stopping at the United terminal at the Newark, NJ airport stabbed me. We grabbed our suitcases, in preparation from finishing our transfer from one terminal to another on the airport bus. Two years had passed since that fateful night when we almost lost Sarah, and I hadn’t expected my eyes to tear up as we traveled through an airport we had never been to before.

Questions bounced around inside my head as I gripped the my suitcase handle. Had Sarah stumbled off this very bus the night she almost died? Had she listened to the swoosh of the automatic doors and smelled the jet fuel before collapsing on the tarmac? My momma heart wanted to know the details of that night, even if they hurt. Even though two years had passed, I wanted to make sense of all that had happened during that dark period of her life.

Every momma wants to soothe, protect, and bring light into our children’s nightmares—whether our child is five, 15, or 25. I will probably never know exactly what happened that night, but I believe that praying for my daughter made a difference in the outcome of her story.

The very night that sirens wailed and flashing lights converged on the scene while paramedics knelt at Sarah’s side, I knelt beside my bed, 2000 miles away, clueless to her plight. I knew she was in danger, but I didn’t know how much. The urge to pray was so great that I did something I had never done before—I sent out requests to some of Sarah’s mentors and friends and asked them to pray with me.

More Questions Than Answers

We didn’t find out until over a week later that paramedics rushed Sarah to a hospital near the airport and eventually released her after 12 hours. It took months for the full story to emerge.

Our well-brought-up-Christian daughter, the one we strove to instill with the proper balance of caution and freedom, had accepted some drug-laced ‘candies’ from strangers. Without even stopping to think of all the lessons we’d taught her, she had popped the candies into her mouth and ended up passed out at the airport on the tarmac between terminals. While it wasn’t exactly an overdose, it did require hospital observation.

At almost 21, she seemed too old to accept and ingest candy of questionable origin from people she had never met before. After all, we taught her all about stranger danger from an early age.

Had we failed as parents? For the past two years, Sarah’s behavior had bewildered us. She started binge eating and gained weight. When she went away to college she struggled to get good grades—despite her 4.0 high-school GPA. She lost confidence in her ability to reason and think and write.

When she couldn’t decide on a major, she went to Argentina for a year, where she seemed to suffer from the throes of first love as well as deep depression. When she returned, the first love was a thing of the past, but the depression remained.

We took Sarah to counseling. She continued to gain weight. We took her to psychologists. She spoke of going for a walk at night and stepping in front of a car. She came home to stay with us until we could figure things out. I spent hours on the phone trying to find a treatment center that our insurance would pay for.

You can find the rest of the story over at Kindred Mom.