Written by Hannah Harder from Littleton, Colorado
2 am. There was a knock on the door. My eleven-year-old self peeped through the banister to see who it was. My mom opened the door to my sixteen-year-old brother and a cop standing on my doorstep. From that moment, my image of a harmonious childhood became tainted. While it was only a curfew violation then, it was the start of an eight year nightmare. No matter how loud I screamed, my eyes could not open.
My best friend, my role model, the one who held my hand in Disneyland so I would not get lost was straying... and I had no ability to reel him into the shore. I had no real concept of what drugs were, but I knew I hated them for what they did to my brother. They became his fix, his new best friends, and the facade of fun that let him come around once a year, maybe twice, if I was lucky.
I remember nights when I heard my mom on the floor in her room weeping and pleading with God to save her son. I trembled with anxiety, wondering if it was even worth praying for anymore. Eventually, you become numb to all of it to protect yourself from feeling the weight of the pain.
I wanted so badly to be angry with my brother, but I couldn't be; it was not all his fault. Yes, his choices led him to this point, but the disease of Addiction took over. My brother let Addiction into his car and before you knew it, Addiction was driving. Addiction promised false hope and security. Addiction told my brother that isolation was king and the pill was the fix, but it never really satisfied. Life apart from drugs felt horrifying because it meant facing the harsh reality of all the things the drugs had masked.
Months, even years passed. This time left the longing question in my heart, “Is he going to live? God, is this the battle he doesn't win?”
Life circumstances began to whirl, and a climactic moment happened in the story that brought my brother to his knees… and into an orange jumpsuit. I remember the day in court. Sweaty palms, heart beating fast, waiting for the judge to read the conviction.
“Sentenced to three months.”
The rest was a blur, I looked over at my mom as she sobbed, “Dear God, no. Dear God, no.” Shock hit like a semi truck that could not find the breaks.
Jail. The rock bottom where my brother met a Savior. He finally heard the voice that said, “Are you done yet? In and out of rehab, are you done yet? Breaking your family’s heart, are you done yet? Almost dying multiple times, are you done yet? Contemplating ending it all, are you done yet?”
In sheer brokenness, his answer to all those questions was an overwhelming, “yes.” An overnight change of heart occurred that I can not explain apart from the Divine.
It has been said before that people become the lead pastor of wherever they are. Well, this happened with my brother. He began reading his Bible and evangelizing to other inmates. A few months passed and his 3 months were served, but he did not come out as the same person he went in.
He came out on fire, on holy fire for Jesus Christ. The little boy who loved Veggie Tales and quoted Bible verses was being made new. He was giving advice to other addicts, going to church every week, joining a life group, and finding genuine community. Most importantly, he was restoring the relationship with the Holy Spirit within him.
Now, a few years after it all, he is going to be an associate youth pastor and his heart for Jesus and people continue to thrive. He tells me often that he has been made new, and how beautiful life actually is now that Addiction is gone and he can see life with clear eyes. The Spirit is strong in him. I can see life in him, where I once only saw death.
Satan is a liar, and he fought tooth and nail to kill my brother. But Jesus would not allow it. Jesus fought and continues to fight for my brother daily in the unseen. Through years of the nightmare, the prayers of our family were reaching the heart of God: they were building resiliency and hammering out the dross.
My brother has been in the refiner’s fire for a while, and only now are we just seeing some of the gold that he has become. I know that there is still infinitely more, because Jesus always does more than we can ask, think, or imagine.
Was pouring out my heart before the Father for eight years worth it? Absolutely. God’s ways are higher, and his time table is different, but I know that when I pray and shoot in faith, Jesus will always get my arrow to His designated target in its designated time. He did, and the joy has been restored tenfold. He really is a good Father, and I have tasted and seen the goodness of my God in the land of the living. Keep the persistence of vision and never lose heart.
- From a sister who stayed on her knees
For more of Hannah's writing, visit her site here!