Allowing the Lord to Steer

Janene's Story

A bicycle parked outside a housing complex.

I am a recovering co-dependent mother of a son addicted to drugs and alcohol. 

For many years, my husband and I were extremely involved in the Church. We were always the first in the ward to invite new move-ins and converts to our home for dinner. We were one of the anchor families in our ward and loved serving in the leadership of the Church.

Then we discovered our son’s addictions to drugs and alcohol. I quit socializing with friends and hosting family events. I could barely show up for my nursery assignment, and when I did I cried most of the time. Attending church became painful, as my loss seemed magnified when I saw my son's peers progressing in the priesthood. I felt like a failure.

One day I was so consumed with desperation for my young teen that I completely forgot to go to work. I neglected all other responsibilities in my frantic attempts to monitor his behavior, rescue him, and stop his drug abuse. I realized I had totally lost who I was because I was consumed with stopping his addictions. 

Realizing I needed some help, I started attending the Addiction Recovery Program Family and Friends Support Group. In my first few meetings, I wondered how these people could be so happy and full of the spirit when their loved ones were so self-destructing. I thought, “This might be okay for them, but I can't be happy until my son is an Eagle Scout and a missionary!”

Then one day the group leader said, “There is one Savior and it isn't you.”  That statement was the two-by-four that hit me on the head.

I thought about an analogy that seemed to fit my life. The analogy compares our lives to a tandem bike ride. Many times, I had placed the Lord in the back seat while I pedaled in front, blindly crashing into every obstacle and pleading for Him to pedal harder. But if I would let Christ sit in the driver's seat, He would know the way and steer me safely through danger and tough patches. I just have to pedal the best I can and if I get tired, He will give me refreshment.

I finally realized what it meant to “give it to God.”  I felt overwhelmed with a sense of His love for me and for my son. My fear and anxiety gave way to peace and trust in the Savior. My burdens were truly made light—something I didn't think was possible.  

Today I am back to hosting, socializing, and forging bonds with other members of our growing family. I am back to serving faithfully in my callings. I enjoy substitute teaching and sewing for my grandchildren. My husband and I have now served several years as facilitators and group leaders for the ARP Family Support Group in our stake. We are privileged to witness miracles on a weekly basis as brothers and sisters participate in the path to healing through the atonement.

I am in awe of the wisdom that is honed from suffering as group members share their testimonies. Nothing else I have done has brought me a deeper understanding of the power of repentance and forgiveness. I continue to grow and learn with them in my journey with my addict son. With the Lord steering my way, I am growing in confidence. My heart bursts with gratitude for all the blessings previously masked by despair. I am stronger and wiser, more lovable and loving. While I wouldn't wish this trial upon anyone, it has schooled me in trust and truth like nothing else could.