14-16“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:16 The Message (MSG)

I heard a woman speak the other day.  She and her family have started an organization designed to keep kids of drugs.  She talked about the organization and gave facts and figures but I could tell she was leading up to the real story.  The story of how she lost her son to drugs.  I knew that she was going to tell her story and I got scared.  Scared for her to tell it and scared for me to hear it.  Drugs frighten me and losing a child is the thing I fear most of all.  I sat in fearful anticipation waiting for the story to be told – waiting for the air to be filled with the heartbreaking story of another son lost and another mother broken.

She told her story and she was brave.  She was succinct and purposeful and included details about the how’s and the why’s.  She told the tale as a cautionary tale – she was warning us and our kids.  She was strong.  Her voice only cracked a couple times.  Her tears only bubbled up two or three times.

I pictured her practicing this speech in the mirror.  I pictured her practicing on loved ones. I imagined her writing and rewriting and changing words and hoping and praying she would get it right, hoping and praying that her words would honor her son’s struggle and his life, and that she could convey her love, her grief, her sorrow, her brokenness.  I imagine the rewrites and the agony spent at the keyboard reliving the story.  I imagined the first few times she may have cried the whole way through.  How could you not?

She had to tell the who’s, what’s, why’s and the what to do’s but really her story is about the boy she loved.  Her story is about the baby and the toddler and the grade schooler.  Her story is about the hugs and the laughs and the vacations and the friends.  Her story is about moments together – about tucking him in and kissing him good night. Her story is about holidays and cozy nights by the fire, about board games and puzzles and Legos and sports.  Her story is about family and dreams and safety and all the things she worked to give her son.  Her story is about love.  Her story is my story and that is what scares me so much.  How can her story start out just like my story but end in my worst nightmare?

But now I realize her story did not end there.  In her strength and her wisdom, she has walked through hell and found grace.  It’s amazing to see.  Can our lowest, scariest, most unthinkable moments be the windows for grace in our lives?

I remember reading the book Beautiful Boy by David Sheff and being entranced by it.  I read the follow up book, Tweak, by his son, Nic Sheff and watched the father and son on Oprah with my book club.  I was invested in the story and hoping and praying for Nic’s recovery to be real and lasting.

Her speech reminded me of this book when she mentioned her son had been in rehab 13 times before he died.  That took my breath away.  I imagined the phone calls and the drop off’s and the hope and the waiting and the counseling and the disappointment and the fear and the hope again and the disappointment again.  It was almost too much to bear.

I am honored that she shared her story with us.  I believe she knows something very important.  She knows we need her story.  She knows we need her.

I was at funeral of a friend of mine the other day.  It was so sad to have to say good bye to such a good man.  I sat there thinking, “Why would God take such a young man, such a good father, such a loving husband?”  It doesn’t make sense.  He was amazing and he will be greatly missed.  The priest at the funeral told us that we all have a “holy task” before us.  He said our task is to tell our stories about our friend that passed away- share the stories of him living and loving and laughing and being kind.  This is how he will live on.  This is how we will honor him.  The priest didn’t just say it’s our “task” he said it is our “HOLY task”.

I believe it is our holy task to share our stories…to witness to each other…to share our moments of pain and our moments of grace.  All of our stories are holy…every single one of them.  Especially the ones we are scared to tell and the ones we are scared to hear.

What’s your holy story?

To learn more about one mother’s mission to honor her son’s memory and to help keep kids off of drugs, visit
©2012 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™ All Rights Reserved

4 thoughts on “Stories

  1. Julie K

    I too sat there mesmerized, with tears in my eyes for this family. My son sitting next to me wanting to get over to the gym, where he could sign up for his activities, was somewhat engaged. He kept looking over at me seeing my tears and promised to call me if ever he was in a “situation”. Hopefully he will remember this story when that “friend” offers him some type of drug, or if he is at a party where it is going on. Life is full of choices……it is up to us as parents to encourage the right ones!

    1. Sue Post author

      Hi Julie, I know…it was an interesting dynamic…people walking out, kids looking around, my daughter seemed like she was listening and then I went up to the woman afterwards and shook her hand and thanked her for telling her story and we saw the pictures of her son and then I knew it hit my daughter – she was tearing up. It’s so difficult for them to process – being teens they think they are invincible. I hope and pray that we can all have a common message in the community so they hear it again and again and they make good choices. I was so pleased that the school started off the year with this message.

  2. Lis

    I, too, heard her story, Sue and was touched by her pain and her unbelievable courage. I hoped that my son sitting next to me was listening, but I know he was thinking about how much homework he had left to do. I hoped the parents in the audience were listening, but I actually had to ask the two gentlemen next to me to stop talking so that I could hear what she was saying. When I got home my husband asked me if the meeting was important, and I assured him that it was far more important than homework or soccer or any of the other hundred clubs represented that night. So last night we sat down with our two boys and gave them the talk yet another time about how destructive drugs and alcohol can be to their lives. How they can destroy their bodies, their minds, their dreams. And we told them that it’s not a matter of “if” they will be encounter drugs and alcohol, it’s a matter of “when”. We told them this not to scare them, but to prepare them. And we gave them a way out. A signal they can use to let us know if they’re in a situation that’s not right and they need help to get out. And we assured them that we’d be there for them no matter what, even if they mess up.

    If we as parents could just agree to take this seriously, to stay on top of it, to know where are kids are and who they’re with, to stop saying “they’re going to do it anyway I’d rather it be at my house” and instead say “I believe that I can raise a child to be strong enough to make good choces (at least most of the time) and surround himself with other kids who want to make good choices and stay safe and live life to the fullest.” And I believe this starts by keeping God at the center of our lives and our kids’ lives. He will provide the safety, and the strength, and the hope. Trust him!

    1. Sue Post author

      Lis, I love this – thank you. Especially the part about “we assured them that we’d be there for them no matter what, even if they mess up.” Isn’t this what God says to us every day?


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