How did I react to my teenager’s vaping, alcohol use and drug addiction?
A few years ago my son Jeremy woke me up in the middle of the night. He said, “Dad, I have to tell you something. Last school year I was vaping and for a few months I would go out drinking and getting drunk. There were also a few times that I bought marijuana and got high. I haven’t done anything for months, but I just had to tell you the truth.
Talk about a revival! A wake-up call on several levels.
I was shocked. My son had a solid Christian upbringing (not perfect, but solid.) He went through countless Dare 2 Share events, the ministry that I founded 30 years ago, since he was little. Jeremy had attended a good Christian school since he was in kindergarten and as far as I know he sought to honor God with his life.
But, during his freshman year of high school, he had a whole host of secret sins that none of us knew about. And he kept those sins hidden in the basement of our house, where his room was.
After he woke me from a dead sleep and dropped the bomb on me, I asked him, “Jeremy, why are you telling me this now?” He just said, “Daddy, I can’t take it anymore. I’m sick of hiding it. I’m sick of thinking about it. I can’t sleep at night and I keep thinking about it during the day. It’s too much to take dad. I felt like I had to admit it to you.
Jeremy was frank. I was happy for it. He hadn’t been caught. No one had denounced him. But, the Holy Spirit let him be so convinced of his sins that he confessed them to me.
I said, “Well Jeremy, there will be consequences for your actions, big consequences. And the consequence begins now. We have to wake up your mother and tell her. ”
At the time, my wife, Debbie, was a full-time teacher in a public school. Many nights during the school year, she would fall asleep, writing down homework in front of the fireplace downstairs. It was one of those nights.
Jeremy and I went downstairs and woke her up with my elbow. Once she yawned, stretched, she looked at us and asked, “What’s going on?
He told her the news.
Suffice to say that the night was long. My wife could not have imagined in 1,000 years that her son would be doing something like this, in our own home. And, to be honest, neither have I.
After all, I come from the streets. In my book Unlikely fighter, I tell a lot about my rough and urban upbringing. Suffice it to say I haven’t lived a protected life. I knew the temptations that existed and how cunning teenagers (and adults) with bad intentions could be. I was surprised that my own suburban son who went to church could pull a quick one at me, right under my nose, for so many months.
You should also understand that I am a consequence guy. Since our children were small, we have always sought to give immediate consequence to any act of disobedience. When I counted, “1… 2… 3… 4 ″ as a parent, it wasn’t an empty threat. This represented the number of spankings my son or daughter would receive upon their return home.
Jeremy knew it. He knew the consequences of this caliber of disobedience would be enormous.
Jeremy was really nervous that we were going to tell the administrators of the Christian school he was attending and therefore he would be kicked out. And his fear was not unfounded. I was really inclined to say it in Christian school… and Jeremy knew it.
Again and again, during his dark soul night, he begged his mother and I to tell him what the consequences were going to be. But I told him we needed a few weeks to pray and think about what to do.
We were doing. But, to be honest, I knew the wait would be kind of a consequence for him. I wanted to make him sweat a bit.
So before we finally went to bed early in the morning, we set the date for two weeks later. We told him he would have to wait to hear the consequences until then.
The wait made him angry and frustrated. Every few days he tried to get a feel for the consequences, but I kept reminding him, “We’re still praying for this. You will have to wait. “
It was during this time that I started to wonder where he got the money for alcohol, marijuana and vaping during these months of rampant sin. He didn’t have a job and didn’t have a lot of benefits. But, whenever he needed money for food, he would call me and ask me to transfer some. $ 10 here, $ 20 there, it adds up over time.
After checking my bank statements from the previous school year, I noticed a whole bunch of transfers from my account to his in these small amounts. So I asked him, “Jeremy, when I transferred money last year, were you buying food or alcohol, marijuana and vaping stuff?” Lowering his head, he told me the truth. Most of the money I transferred to his account ($ 500 over a 5 month period) was for his carnal appetites, not his hunger.
This realization was not helping Jeremy’s cause. His fear of the potential consequences was growing day by day. The only thing Jeremy had for him was that he came to see us and confessed to us. He hadn’t been caught by anyone else.
The big night of consequences has finally arrived. Throughout that day, Jeremy was nervous. We had our date scheduled for that evening and as the time approached he was getting more nervous.
Finally, we all sat down at the kitchen table. I handed him a piece of paper. On this piece of paper, I had listed all the sins he had committed:
- Vaping of minors
- Alcohol consumption by minors
- Getting drunk
- Buy and use marijuana illegally
- Break the law
- Breaking the code of honor in your school
- Break the code of honor of our house
- Breaking the heart of god
- Lied to us for four months about what he was doing
- We stole $ 500 under the pretext of buying food.
I had also listed the potential consequences that ranged from turning him into a Christian school, and being grounded for the rest of the year, including paying every last penny to take his phone away for him. good.
The list of infractions and potential consequences was long. The 8.5 “x 11” piece of white paper was chock full of agreed-upon transgressions, infractions, and painful consequences.
After briefly going through the paper, I asked him, “Jeremy, how are you reacting to all of this? “
He just said, “Daddy, mommy, I’m guilty. I deserve everything you give me. Please just tell me what the consequences are.
I said, “Okay. Your mother and I prayed about it and the Lord gave us an answer. Here is your consequence… ”
Then I took out a giant marker and wrote a word in big letters on this piece of paper.
This word was “TETESTAI”.
“What does that word mean daddy?” Jeremy asked.
“This is the word that Jesus spoke on the cross just before he died. It’s the Greek word for “It’s over!” It means “paid in full”.
He interrupted me and said, “Daddy, I know Jesus forgives me, but what are my consequences of you and mom?
I said, “Jeremy, you don’t understand what I’m saying. Your consequence is this: there is no consequence because Jesus took it for you on the cross. He paid the price. He forgave you. So this time we forgive you. We are not going to turn you into a Christian school. We are not going to punish you. We’re not even going to force you to pay us back the $ 500. You are completely forgiven. Your debt has been fully paid.
Jérémy was stunned. He couldn’t believe it.
Then I leaned over and said these words with a smirk on my face: “But unlike Jesus, this is a one-time deal.”
Jeremy was in shock, the right kind of shock. He couldn’t believe he was completely forgiven.
The next morning I got up and found a pile of ash in a cup of water on the kitchen table.
I said: “Jérémy, what is it? “
He said, “Last night I went out in the middle of the night and burned this piece of paper.
“Why the hell would you do that?” Why didn’t you frame it or something? I asked.
I will never forget his wise response beyond his years: “Why would I frame this piece of paper that represented my sins?” My sins were paid for by Jesus and they are gone, burned to pieces. “
Then I asked him why he put these scorched pieces of paper in the cup of water: “Is it because in Micah 7:19, God says he will cast our sins into the deepest ocean?
He said, “No, daddy, I was afraid I might accidentally burn the house down. “
Since that time, Jeremy has been on an upward trajectory in his walk with Christ. He sought to live a life that pleases God. He is currently attending Bible school and preparing for full-time ministry.
What is the response to drug use in adolescents? Gospel music. What’s the answer to vaping and alcohol abuse? Gospel music. What is the answer to your struggles and mine? Gospel music. What’s the answer to engaging Gen Z with the real message of hope? Gospel music.
The Gospel changes everything. This is the case for my son. He does it for me.
It will change everything for you too, if you allow it.
“He forgave us all our sins, having quashed the accusation of our legal debt, which rose up against us and condemned us; he carried it off, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:14
Originally published at Greg stier.