The next morning I showed up at dad’s house at eight, with a hangover. All my brothers’ trucks were parked in front. What are they all doing here?
When I opened the front door, Dad, Alan, Jase, and Willie looked at me. They were sitting around the living room, waiting. No one smiled, and the air felt really heavy.
I looked to my left, where Mom was usually working in the kitchen, but this time she was still, leaning over the counter and looking at me too.
Dad spoke first. “Son, are you ready to change?”
Everything else seemed to go silent and fade away, and all I heard was my dad’s voice.
“I just want you to know we’ve come to a decision as a family. You’ve got two choices. You keep doing what you’re doing--maybe you’ll live through it--but we don’t want nothin’ to do with you. Somebody can drop you off at the highway, and then you’ll be on your own. You can go live your life; we’ll pray for you and hope that you come back one day. And good luck to you in this world.”
He paused for a second then went on, a little quieter.
“Your other choice is that you can join this family and follow God. You know what we stand for. We’re not going to let you visit our home while you’re carrying on like this. You give it all up, give up all those friends, and those drugs, and come home. Those are your two choices.”
I struggled to breathe, my head down and my chest tight. No matter what happened, I knew I would never forget this moment.
My breath left me in a rush, and I fell to my knees in front of them all and started crying.
“Dad, what took y’all so long?” I burst out.
I felt broken, and I began to tell them about the sorry and dangerous road I’d been traveling down. I could see my brothers’ eyes starting to fill with tears too.
I didn’t dare look at my mom’s face although I could feel her presence behind me. I knew she’d already been through the hell of addiction with her own mother, with my dad, with her brother-in-law Si, and with my oldest brother, Alan. And now me, her baby. I remembered the letters she’d been writing to me over the last few months, reaching out with words of love from her heart and from the heart of the Lord.
Suddenly, I felt guilty.
“Dad, I don’t deserve to come back. I’ve been horrible. Let me tell you some more.”
“No, son,” he answered. “You’ve told me enough.”
I’ve seen my dad cry maybe three times, and that was one of them. To see my dad that upset hit me right in the gut. He took me by my shoulders and said, “I want you to know that God loves you, and we love you, but you just can’t live like that anymore.”
“I know. I want to come back home,” I said.
I realized my dad understood. He’d been down this road before and come back home. He, too, had been lost and then found.
By this time my brothers were crying, and they got around me, and we were on our knees, crying. I prayed out loud to God, “Thank You for getting me out of this because I am done living the way I’ve been living.”
“My prodigal son has returned,” Dad said, with tears of joy streaming down his face.
It was the best day of my life. I could finally look over at my mom, and she was hanging on to the counter for dear life, crying, and shaking with happiness.
A little later I felt I had to go use the bathroom. My stomach was a mess from the stress and the emotions. But when I was in the bathroom with the door shut, my dad thought I might be in there doing one last hit of something or drinking one last drop, so he got up, came over, and started banging on the bathroom door. Before I could do anything, he kicked in the door. All he saw was me sitting on the pot and looking up at him while I about had a heart attack. It was not our finest moment.
That afternoon after my brothers had left, we went into town and packed up and moved my stuff out of my apartment.
“Hey bro,” I said to my roommate. “I’m changing my life. I’ll see ya later.” I meant it.
Jep Robertson (The Good, the Bad, and the Grace of God: What Honesty and Pain Taught Us About Faith, Family, and Forgiveness)