The ringing phone woke me up. Barely awake, I looked at the clock. Who would be calling at 1:30 a.m.? I wondered, with a slight bit of panic. I picked up the phone and heard nothing but weeping. Then a choked voice came through. It was Jennifer,* one of my closest friends. "Barbara, would you please meet me at the police station?" she sobbed. "It's Scott.* He's been arrested for possession of marijuana." Scott, Jennifer's son, had been in trouble with the law before and I knew the situation was serious.
I got dressed and drove to the police station. But when I got there, I sat in my car, afraid to go in. I tried to fight my irrational fear of getting involved. "Oh, God," I prayed, "I need your strength to get out of this car and your wisdom to know what to say?and what not to say. Help me be a supportive friend." Finally, I got out of the car and walked into the station. Jennifer, eyes red from crying, stood in the hallway.
We sat down and Jennifer's words tumbled out. "Barbara," she said, "I know I've been a good mother. A day doesn't go by that I don't pray for Scott. But I'm so weary of the single-parent journey. I just don't know what else I can do for him."
As she spoke, I started to realize why I'd been afraid to go into the police station. Jennifer was a dedicated mother and a strong Christian. Scott had been involved in a youth group at their church. Jennifer was an aware, concerned, caring parent, and yet her son was in trouble. If this could happen to her family, what was to keep it from happening to mine? That feeling I'd had in the parking lot was the fear that if I got too close, Jennifer's crisis might somehow "rub off" on my family.1