Heartbreak – it happens to all of us. Clint Eastwood did a movie about it (Heartbreak Ridge), and Elvis Presley sang a song about it (Heartbreak Hotel). I’m sure you have your own stories.
As do we.
In my last post And, We’re Off, I mentioned how blessed we were when a wonderful Christian couple took Jeffrey into live with them his sophomore year of college at Embry-Riddle (ERAU) in Prescott, Arizona. And they were determined to care for him at least until he graduated.
But sometimes things happen…
Jeffrey did well during his sophomore year, but in his junior year something occurred, which to this day he will not talk about. All we know is that this event changed Jeffrey’s whole outlook on college, the family he was living with, and even his life.
He began failing to show up at the agreed pickup time from school – repeatedly.
Then Jeffrey started ignoring texts and calls from his caregivers altogether. Often they ended up having to park their van and try and find someone on campus to help them locate where he was.
There were a lot of concerns – at least at first. Had he gotten hurt? Was perhaps his phone broken?
But after awhile it became clear that Jeffrey was just simply avoiding them.
Then he also started treating them with disrespect at home. When they would let him know dinner was ready, he would refuse to come out of his room – many times he wouldn’t even respond to them at all. His whole demeanor had just changed, and they were baffled. He suddenly didn’t seem to care for anybody or anything – except for himself.
As the end of his junior year neared, we got a sad phone call from these wonderful people that they were sorry, but they couldn’t take care of him anymore. They were grieved remembering their promise to keep him until he graduated, but because of the licensing requirements with the State of Arizona, there was a chance they could potentially lose their license because Jeffrey was failing to follow protocol – not just with them, but also the State itself.
Gary and I were torn up. How could this have happened? But try as we may, Jeffrey wouldn’t tell us what was really going on, instead making excuse after excuse.
Jeffrey’s DDD disability caseworker put out another emergency call for other licensed caregivers in the area, but after 3 tries, no one had stepped up. So he ended up having to move to the Phoenix area where a sweet lady agreed to take him in. But it was a great distance from ERAU, so Jeffrey had to drop out of college.
We still held onto our hopes and prayers that Jeffrey might be able to take classes online or transfer to another local university, but as time passed it became clear that he was just giving up on college altogether. We even tried to convince him to move closer to us, but he doesn’t want to do that either.
That was over 3 years ago, and during that time there have been many more bumps and bruises as we’ve seen Jeffrey sink further and further into a type of depressed state. He appears to have given up on all his dreams.
However regardless of how our hearts have been breaking these past years, we know Father God has never left us, and we know that He continues to have his hands on our son. He continues to tell us to trust Him, and so we do.
We keep praying, because we know deep down inside Jeffrey is like a “city broken down, without walls” as it says in Proverbs 25:28. We also know none of this has caught our Father by surprise. He knows exactly what has happened (Psalm 139:15-16), and somehow this all fits into His plan.
Friends – so many of you have wayward children. Our situation is really not that different, even though Jeffrey has special needs. I may continue this series at a later date, but for now let me end with a note of encouragement. Remember that God is all knowing, and He cares deeply. That will never change. And Gary and I know that somehow – someday – Jeffrey will get back on track because our loving Father is right beside him, each and every moment.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.