To Write Love on Her Arms started 10 years ago today – six days after the rescue. Out of the dark of hopelessness love turned on the lights – in my daughter ‘s life and in mine. Renee was living on the streets, crashing anywhere someone would offer a spot. Abusing drugs and alcohol, suffering with mental health issues and a chronic cutter, she was frequently suicidal. Numerous attempts and episodes of slashing at her arms landed her repeatedly in psych wards. Rehab had been attempted once already and failed. Full of self-hatred Renee gave up on herself. I almost gave up, too.
BUT Love never gave up. Love wouldn’t let her go. Love kept on reaching . . .
One gloomy night, a group of selfless, caring friends stepped in. They stubbornly believed no one was a hopeless case. The love of God moved them. Led by David, who understood her best because he’d been through his own addiction hell, they rescued my girl. They offered her another chance at life – and she took it.
A story was written. An honest, soul-touching story about what happened over the next five life-saving days. When it was shared on social media by the author, Jamie, hearts were moved. More hurting people found hope – for themselves and for their friends. During those detox days promises were made – to be there for her when she got out; to offer community and to help with the cost of treatment.
As TWLOHA grew something astonishing began to occur. Difficult issues were being discussed that no one had been talking about before, especially in the church and in Christian circles. Addiction, depression, cutting, suicide. Many struggled in isolation and shame – parents included. People all over the world needed to know it was okay to not be okay; that asking for help wasn’t a sign of weakness but of strength and that there was plenty of help available. Finally there was a voice speaking out and it was TWLOHA’s.
Ten years ago a life-changing journey was set in motion for our whole family, not just for Renee. Before long thousands wanted to have a part in saving this girl whose struggle resembled their own in some way. T-shirts were designed and sold to help cover her expenses. Something supernatural was taking place. No one knew quite what – but it felt significant. Important. It mattered. A lot. One day a movie would be made about it.
Slogans were formed: Hope is Real. Rescue is Possible. You matter. Love is the Movement. No One Else can Play Your Part. We Will be the Hopeful.
It’s true. They’re not just trite phrases that sound nice. They really do capture the heart of what this has all been about, and continues to be. And they resonate with those of us who have either suffered ourselves or have a loved one who does.
But what has all of this meant to me as Renee’s mother? How has it impacted my life?
- It restored my hope in God. I was reminded that He was still in control. He could indeed do anything – and He didn’t need my help.
- It tangibly showed me how much sacrificial love and support was out there. I never dreamed Renee would receive so much help. Love in action really can make a huge difference in our world. It’s a powerful force.
- It proved to me how God can take our worst experiences and use them for good. He can give us a message from our own heartache to help others. Our ministry, Hope for Hurting Parents, is a direct result of these things. And I wrote a book telling my story (to be published this July). I’ll tell you more about it in the coming months.
Hope is real. Love can make a difference. God can use everything you go through for good, even the worst experiences you’ve had with your child. If He could write love on my daughter’s arms who was on death’s doorstep and bring hope to millions through her story, then He can do something remarkable for you. It might not be a non-profit like TWLOHA, but it will be just as amazing.
Dear friend, please don’t despair. You’re not alone. You’re loved. God cares and He’s with you. It’s not too late for your child. The Bible says: “With God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).” It’s true. Even those things that look ridiculously impossible. Believe me. I’ve experienced it.
I just had to say thank you again to everyone at TWLOHA and to God for all He’s done through them. And thank you my precious Renee, for never giving up on yourself; for fighting to live and doing the hard work of recovery to get where you are today. Isn’t it amazing?
Lord, encourage each parent who reads this. Renew their belief that something impossible could still happen in their child’s life today. Would you write love on their son or daughter’s arms in a beautiful and unique way? And be sure they know Who did it, for no one can write love like You. We know that because of the powerful love story You authored in The Scriptures, culminating in the suffering and death of Your son, Jesus.
I pray these things in His Mighty Name.