Love never fails

Sometimes we don’t like the person our child has become when they have been rude, disrespectful and even downright hateful towards us.  Suddenly we are the bad guy, the enemy.  Alcohol and drugs change them.  Depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and other mental illnesses change them.  Time in jail or prison changes them.  Trauma changes them.  So much they have experienced changes them.   Before we know it they are no longer the person we once knew.  The sweet, innocent, son or daughter we  raised and have so many special memories of  . . . where did they go?  What happened?  It is so baffling and mystifying.   It hurts so badly.   But they are still our sons, our daughters.  Underneath it all is a frightened, lost soul.  Our precious child is still there, somewhere.

What can make a difference in their lives?  God’s unfailing love.  We sure don’t deserve it, yet His love for us never fails, no matter what we’ve done.   Think about that.  It’s unfailing.  It can’t fail!  It can’t wear out, give out or fizzle out.  It’s impossible – absolutely not possible – “no way, no how!” –  for it to stop or come to an end . . . ever!  It will never cease to exist.   The Bible tells us that nothing can separate us from God’s love.   NOT A THING.

I found it so comforting to think of how much God loved my daughter, no matter what she did or what was done to her.  Somehow it gave me hope that if he loved her that much, then one day she just might be ok.  I could put her in his hands and entrust her into his care because of this unfailing love.  I could depend on it.  It was a sure thing.  It didn’t guarantee she would be ok, but I could trust that out of His love for her He would do whatever it would take to reach her with that endless, immutable love.  He is faithful and he could do it!

As I was thinking about this I was reminded of a song:  “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, new every morning.  Great is thy faithfulness, O Lord.  Great is thy faithfulness, O Lord.  Great is thy faithfulness.”  The Bible sums it up quite well in Lamentations 3:21-23  “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope; because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” And also in Psalm 119:76a  “May your unfailing love be my comfort . . .”

Because God’s love never fails, there is always hope for all of us.  As a dear friend of mine says, LNF!

Difficult Father’s Day

When special days come I am always thinking about parents whose hearts are breaking and burdened, full of pain and worry,  fear and rejection.  Father’s Day is one of those difficult days you would just rather skip and pretend it didn’t occur.  Everyone is receiving cards and going out to do something together.  Your neighborhood may be full of family get-togethers.  Friends and relaties may be asking what your plans are.  Or at work the next day they will be asking how your Father’s Day was — which means you are supposed to brag on how loving and thougthful your children were, showing you how much they love you.  Not!  Maybe you just wish you knew where they were or if they are even alive.  It’s a terrible place to be.  I remember if we didn’t hear from our daughter (or maybe not until the end of the day) I would feel so bad for my husband.  It hurt me, too.

It’s just so hard!  You want to crawl in a hole and make it all go away.  It just makes your pain worse because it only reminds you what you don’t have anymore . . . .  it makes you long for when your child was younger and they actually wanted to be with you.  You were their hero!   What happened?

Drugs happened.  Alcohol happened.  Friends with negative influences happened.  Depression happened.  Self harm happened.  Anger and resentment happened.  Rebellion happened.  Lives changed.  Everything changed.  Nothing’s the same.

This message is to every hurting dad out there who feels their pain compounded on Father’s Day.  I hope your son or daugther will at least call you and say Happy Father’s Day, even if they aren’t ready to say,”I Love You” . . . but if not, remember this is just one chapter in their lives, it’s not the whole story.  It is very likely they will come around and eventually appreciate you again, even say, “I love you, please forgive me.  I’m sorry I was such a jerk”.

But that may not be today.  The wait may be long. Some say this is not a sprint, it’s a marathon!   You may wonder when it will ever end, but don’t despair.  Like my friend says, “As long as they are still breathing, there is still hope!”

Keep believing.  Keep trusting God.  Give thanks for all there is to be grateful for in your life.  Limit the amount of time you allow yourself to fret and obsess over them.  Get busy helping someone else.  I really like this bible verse.  It gives me such hope:

 “This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of  Eden.”                                                                                                              (Ezekiel 36:35)

A great little book that gives hope in life’s severe trials is Holding onto Hope by Nancy Guthrie.

Letting Go

As the mom or dad of a son or daughter who struggles with an addiction, depression or some other mental health issue, cutting, an eating disorder, is in trouble with the law, same sex identity issue, or any other self-destructive behavior  you know how hard it is to let go.  Letting go is one of the things that will help us keep our sanity yet one of the most difficult to actually do!  I’ve been thinking a lot about this since my last blog when I talked about learning to live with an unsolved problem.

Letting go — loosening your grip, relaxing your hold, releasing control.   Sometimes it helps to understand  something when you have a better understanding of what it’s not.  So, what is the opposite of letting go?  It’s tightening your grip until your knuckles are white; its holding on with a death-grip and clenched fists; it’s being controlling and overly involved because you have to have something.   Think of a child who won’t let go of a toy.  Been there?  It can also be enabling – being too helpful, doing for someone something they can and should do for themselves.  If you are doing these things I have two words for you, STOP IT!  Step back, take a deep breath and RELEASE!

This doesn’t mean we don’t care and it’s not being unloving.   We will always be there for our son or daughter and will do everything in our power to help them when they are ready to change.  Notice the key words in bold print!  Of course it’s hard to know if they are, and at times we may be fooled and taken advantage of.  Sometimes you just have to give them a chance and see what happens.   If they weren’t being honest, hopefully we’ll learn from our mistake and make a better decision the next time we have the opportunity.

I think the difficulty in letting go is tied in with our fear.  It has been for me.  I was so afraid for  my daughter that I couldn’t bear the thought of letting her go.  I  didn’t know how to let her go!  If  I did, what might happen?   I loved her so much . . . how do you let go of all of that fear and worry for this child you would give your very life for?

For me, learning to let go has happened in incremental baby steps (a phrase I’ve borrowed from the movie What About Bob? with Bill Murray.  (If you need a good laugh it’s a riot!)  It has been a slow process of giving her over to the care of God, my  Higher Power, and allowing Him to work in her life as He sees best.   Because I believe that He is loving and good,  I am confident that He loves her even more than I do.  This gives me great peace and comfort.  Although I do know it is not a guarantee that things will turn out like I want them to — it doesn’t mean bad things won’t ever happen.  They have happened.  All the things I tried to protect her from did happen.  But I have learned to let her go and to let go of what it was doing to me.  Now I can let go of fear, of worry, of sleepless nights, of trying to fix, of rescuing, of protecting from painful consequences.  Those consequences may be exactly what is needed to bring about a desire for change!

Letting go is one of the most loving things you can do — for yourself and for your child!  Renee, my daughter, even wrote a song about letting go!  Maybe you will hear her sing it when her CD comes out, hopefully by the end of the summer!

Here are a few bible verses that help me when I am struggling to let go:

“Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”  (Psalm 27:13-14 NIV)

“Casting the whole of your care (all your anxieties and all your concerns, once and for all) on Him, for He cares for you.”  (I Peter 5:7 Amplified)

How Parents Can Live With An Unsolved Problem

As parents we have a special relationship with our children.  We have a deep emotional connection along with a strong sense of responsibility.  When we bring our child into the world we eagerly watch them grow under our loving guidance.  We are full of hopes and dreams for them.  Then, all of that appears to be shattered when we realize they may be in trouble with drugs, alcohol, self harm, an eating disorder,  porn, same sex identity issues, or a  mental illness.

We try everything in our power to stop their behaviors….we forgive, make excuses, cover up, smooth out & want to believe everything they tell us.  When our first attempts at changing them or even denying their behaviors don’t work we try exercising our authority by making demands or controlling them…..but nothing we say or do works.

If our child lives at home we are sickened by the daily experience of living with unacceptable behavior.  We listen anxiously for them to come in at night, or sneak out at night.  We fear the phone ringing in the middle of the night, that it might mean disaster or tragedy.  We worry about the affects of their behaviors on their health, relationships, school, jobs, or if they will get arrested – their future in general.

Our constant companions are fear, sadness, frustration and anger.  We are afraid of all the what-ifs.  We are so angry with them, their friends, and ourselves.  We’re full of guilt and shame.  Some of my worst anguish came with my sense of guilt.  I would ask myself the painful questions:  “What did I do wrong?  How could I have prevented this?  It must be my fault, or how could my child be this way?  What should I do now?”  And the sadness — over what has happened, over all that is lost and what never will be.

Are we supposed to stop caring what happens to our children?  Of course not!  But we can become so obsessed with their problems and so afraid for their welfare that many of us neglected all our other relationships, including ourselves.  We need to learn to take care of ourselves and let go of our anguish over our children. We can do this by stopping our nagging, scolding and criticizing.  We need to stop reacting, stop trying to change them, stop trying to protect them and stop making their problems our problems.  Wow, that’s a mouthful of challenging things that sound so easy to do, yet . . . painfully difficult.  I know this firsthand.

This skill of letting go is critical.  It allows our children to experience the results of their actions and can actually save their lives.  We need to learn what responsibilities are ours and what are theirs. We need to resist the temptation to find solutions for their troubles.  Let them own what is theirs and we will own what is ours!  We can learn how!

We need to put into practice a courageous love.  Letting our children become responsible for their own problems.  Remember, they aren’t just our children.  They are God’s children, too.  For me, remembering this gives me the strength and peace to “let go and let God” work in my daughter’s life.  By doing this, I can learn to live with an unsolved problem and you can, too.  Even if they end up in rehab or in jail (or worse), God can use it to turn them around.  He can use it to bring good in both their live and in ours!

We also need to learn to let go and release them with love.  This helps us regain our serenity.  I know it’s not easy to do, but for us to be healthy ourselves we must learn how.  Sometimes our love can actually smother them.  Our kind of caring isn’t always helpful, so we must let go and detach.  We must give them back to God and ask Him to take care of them, continually communicating an unconditional loving attitude.  This kind of love is powerful!

We need to learn how to trust more so we will worry less.  When we place our trust in God (our Higher Power) and turn our anxieties and our child over to Him, we can live one day at a time.    We find relief.   We do not have to be chained to the despair we have known.  We can know that whatever happens – whether our child is ever “OK” or not – we will be alright.  We must surrender our children and ourselves to God, then we can have peace.  We can find serenity again because we are both in good hands!

I also can’t encourage support groups enough when you are living with an unsolved problem.  They give you a safe place to process your feelings with others who understand and won’t look down on you.  You find the help you need as you begin applying what you are learning.  As you hear others share who are a few steps ahead of you it encourages you to take those scary steps yourself.  If they can do it, then you can, too!  Al-Anon groups are great and Celebrate Recovery is, too.  You can google them to see if they are in your area.

You can learn to live with an unsolved problem in your child’s life as you stop trying to protect them, determine to show courageous love, let go and let God work.   For me it always seems to get back to trust.  I need to trust God more and more with all the problems in their lives that I can’t solve.  Put your child in His hands and know He is working, even though you cannot see it now.