A son’s impact on his family’s faith
By Lana Soileau
There is nothing in life sadder than failing your children. There is nothing so sweet though, as a child you failed showing you the way to Jesus.
Casey was born to adversity. I found out I was pregnant during an extremely bad time in my marriage. He was a sweet baby who slept all night from day one, but grew to be very sickly with an illness, which could have been life threatening, and would not be confirmed either way until he was two years old.
The first year and a half was filled with doctors, a horribly failing marriage, and a father who was absent emotionally from him and from me. He went from a sweet, happy baby, to a toddler with meltdowns, temper tantrums and unexplained behavior. I was told I was the issue and didn’t know how to handle him, and that he needed more discipline—although he received discipline constantly—because he was just a “bad kid.”
When Casey was not suffering from behavior issues, he was the most loving, affectionate and funny person! He eventually was diagnosed with ADHD and treated with medication, which left him visibly different, emotionally drained and just a wreck. He fell through every crack in the system and was failed completely. Fast forward to pre-teen years and he began to waiver back and forth between being a strong-willed kid and my sweet boy.
Eventually, we tried allowing him to live with his dad in hopes that male discipline would help. There he met a young neighbor and began attending a non-denominational church. It was about a month later, I received a call where Casey told me he had been “saved.” Not knowing what this meant, I asked him, “saved from what?” He began to explain that he had accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. I told him this was good, but I was skeptical and coming from a denomination which never taught me what all of this was about, dismissed it.
As I figured, things didn’t work out at his father’s and he returned home. Because he had so many issues in his life, I agreed to take him to the church he chose, which at the time was First Baptist Church of Opelousas. I sat there and it was alien to me, having grown up Catholic. I really began to enjoy the sermons and learning God’s Word. After a time, I felt the call on my heart and turned my life over to God. My husband and other son eventually followed suit.
While Casey turned to drugs and his addiction ran rampant, he never deviated in his love for Christ and in his belief. He struggled in and out of treatment centers and prisons, as he committed crimes connected to his drug abuse. Each time I would scold him or speak to him about his behavior, he would gently remind me that we were saved thanks to him!
Sadly, after almost 27 years of his struggles, I now realize that he not only suffered from ADHD, but also what I believe is Asperger’s Syndrome, and other mental health issues. Had he been diagnosed correctly early on, his life would have likely taken a different path. However, no matter how bad it seems, he knows that God has a perfect plan for his life and truly believes that he will one day walk the path God has called him to. I truly believe my family would have been lost forever had it not been for my son—a very unlikely apostle.
Into the light
We have gone through the deepest, darkest valleys including suicide attempts, rampant drug addiction, arrests, jail and prison—and it has changed me so profoundly for the better. Before this, I was quick to judge and did not have a lot of compassion for others suffering from addiction or mental illness. Because of my experiences, I now have such a heart for addicts and their families.
I often counsel friends or acquaintances beginning this terrible journey with a loved one. So little information was available to me 27 years ago, and so little understanding of this illness—I had no one. I am so thankful this disease of addiction has come out of the shadows and is now starting to be recognized for what it is—a horrible disease that affects just about everyone in some way, shape, or form.