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Mother of Addict Forced to Face the Truth of Imperfection

“It was beginning to appear that Andrew wasn’t around anymore,” Nancy Chalmers said about her son. “It wasn't my son that was walking in the door whenever he came. And there wasn't really any point in listening to what he said, because none of it was true anyway, or it was so mixed up with truth, who could tell.”

From the outside, Nancy and her family seemed to have everything figured out.

“We've always attended church. We grew up that way. I just always incorporated what we call ‘The American Dream’ into that. you know, all those dreams you have to uh have the perfect little house, the perfect children. I thought it was just the way you lived,” she said.

When her son, Andrew, got older, he claimed to have ADHD which would require prescription medication. But Nancy soon became suspicious because he kept changing doctors. She decided to go with him when he had a new appointment.

“He comes out in 22 minutes with five prescriptions,” Nancy said. “That will take your breath away. He'd sell half, use half. Have money to go pay another psychiatrist.”

Andrew moved back in with his parents. Soon, things began missing around the house.

“Your spoons – like, you used to have 12 spoons in this drawer,” she said. “What are happening to my spoons?  Didn’t dawn on me I mean, I knew he did the pills, but I didn't have any idea he had gone to cocaine, and then he'd gone to heroin. I had no idea about that. He had an alibi for everything.”

“And you keep wanting to fix it,” Nancy admitted. “Surely we can find THE right doctor, THE right situation. I didn't really have hope that God healed it. I didn't see any healing growing up. I saw people learning to live with their condition. And thinking, how sad, my family is stuck with this.”

“We felt like we were doing the right thing giving him a safe place to live, because you know, you don't want him to go live with a bunch of people and get worse,” she said. “And all the time, praying and crying. I would spend hours in my closet upstairs, asking God to grab hold of him, change him.”

“The Lord showed me that I was as sick as my son. My need to please, my need to make things alright, my need to fix, not have anyone think badly of me. All of those great needs that we have, we've built our own little tower of who we are, just came crumbling down. I realized I lied to myself and other people all the time. Which placed me right at the same foot of the cross that Andrew was. The same level,” she said.

Then, Nancy received a letter that made her realize she couldn’t pretend everything was fine anymore.

“And I'm opening the mail as I come in, and uh it looks like an invoice from a psychiatrist. I just sit down the first chair I can get, and it blows me away. He said, ‘Here are copies of prescriptions that I did not write.’ And it was on his prescription pad of paper,” she said. “The accusation really was that Andrew had written the prescriptions.”

“I knew. We were done.”

Nancy told to her son, “God has just told me that we are doing you more harm than good. Here's the accusation from your psychiatrist. Get your bookbag or whatever you want in your bookbag, get it out of here. You cannot live here anymore. You have to leave."

Andrew moved out and Nancy began to question her decision.

“I got out my Bible, and I just said, ‘God, I think I heard you say that. If I was wrong, please let me know.’ And I just flipped it open and it opened to Jonah,” she said. “And I read it. And God said, ‘You're the people on the boat.’ They knew they were all going to die if Jonah wasn't thrown overboard. And it was like, ‘So I was the one that had to do that? Me? The person – who can't face the truth, much less tell it?’”

Nancy continued to pray for her son. For three days, they didn’t know where he was or if he was alive. Then he called asking for help, and agreed to join a program called Teen Challenge.

“It just changed him. And He got him on his knees in total surrender,” she said.

“There is a healing time after addiction. Forgiveness is not trust,” Nancy pointed out.

Nancy’s experiences inspired her to write her book, No One Visits the Mother of a Drug Addict.

“We need Jesus to restore our soul. Not wear the clothes and the makeup and look like you got it together, but be vulnerable and say, ‘I am not doing well.’”

“No one visits the mother of a drug addict, because you don't tell them,” she said. “You don't tell them.”

After years of healing, Andrew started a ministry called “Take the City” to help mobilize churches to reach people in their communities and see cities changed for God’s glory.

“We're working together now,” she said. “Quite interesting to work for your son, and quite a joy. And that connection is coming back.”

“Just take it all, Lord,” Nancy prayed. “Because you're going to weave it together to turn it into something so amazing, because that's your job and not ours.”

“And our children are His job. When you've given something, He can do anything with it.”

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