Father’s Day is today. Are you a dad with a broken heart? Is it weighed down with pain, worry, fear, and rejection? If so, Father’s Day can be hard. Positive memories from when your son or daughter was young and innocent flood your mind. Negative memories and their associated emotions overwhelm you.
Men tend to hide their emotions, but this is different. Tears are close to the surface 24/7. Oh God, please don’t let anyone ask me about ________, or how I’m doing.
There’s a lump in your throat—but you hold back those salty rivers. You can’t let anyone see you cry. You’re a macho man, right? Besides, if you let them come, you might not be able to stop those salty rivers.
Can’t I get a free pass for Father’s Day? you wonder. Most of your friends have plans with their families. How you envy them. Their children enjoy being with them: cookouts, camping and fishing trips, beach or boat outings, theme parks, gifts, dinners . . . except for you. Perhaps you have other children who will be thoughtful, but not them—the one you ache over and can’t stop thinking about.
How can you stay emotionally healthy when your child is troubled? My daughter was losing her battle with addiction, mental illness and self-injury. She was an adult. I had done everything we knew to do to try and save her, but we had no control anymore. However, I wasn’t completely powerless. I found six things that helped—not her, but me.
1) Be honest with yourself.
2) Find a trusted friend who will listen without judging.
Suicide. It impacts millions of families worldwide annually. Each year, 34,598 people die by suicide.
photo cred. Franscesco Gallarotti
An average of 94 completed suicides every day. More people die by suicide than by homicide (18,361) in the United States. Suicide is the eleventh-leading cause of death across all ages.*
My aunt died by suicide in her late 20’s. Dear friends lost their daughter, a college sophomore. The list goes on and on.
The following letter was written by a young man to his friend who died by suicide. The I Am Second website posted it. They typically share life-changing videos of celebrities, but this was different – special. I believe his letter contains important messages parents need to share with their children who struggle.
Each one could be spoken by a worried parent to a beloved son or daughter. We think they already know these things, but they need to be reminded. They need to hear it from your lips, because when the heavy cloud of depression and despair settles down on the heart and mind you develop amnesia. You forget.
These simple phrases could be life-saving.
I was the last person you ever called and I missed it. I’m still not sure how it happened. But you took your life before I could call you back.
Concerts and bombs. Music and mayhem. No! They should not go together! Dear parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles and cousins and friends of Manchester, England . . . we hurt with you. It pierces our hearts that 22 of your loved ones were killed and over 100 injured by a ruthless killer or killers.
Many of us here on U.S. soil live in constant fear that our children will one day end up in the wrong place at the wrong time like yours did. We’ve come to expect bad news due to our children’s dangerous behaviors and choices, but that wasn’t the case for you on May 22nd.
April 15, 2017—the day before Easter. I had no idea what was about to happen or how my world would be shaken, but that’s how it is in this life. We can’t see what’s in our future, unless we’re like Nicolas Cage in the movie, Next. However, even he could only see two minutes ahead. Tragedies usually sneak up on us and find us unprepared. They blindside, take us by surprise, shock and stun. And so it was on that near fateful day. I never saw it coming.
I discovered two things that really helped me on my parenting journey.
- When your teen or adult child stops listening to you, stop talking (trying to teach, instruct, etc.) and start praying. I’m not saying don’t talk to them, but stop the constant attempts to teach, instruct and train.
2. Talk to the One who is listening—to God. And remember, you need to listen to Him, too.
With a rebellious child, much more can be accomplished by our conversations with God than with them.
Thank you Judy Douglass, the mother of a former prodigal, for today’s post. I believe her words will encourage you.
June 2 is the Worldwide Prodigal Prayer Day. It will be here in a few weeks. Those of us who love and pray for prodigals prepare our hearts to bring our wandering loved ones and the thousands on the “pray-for” list to the throne of grace. This year our theme will be By the Spirit and this week we look at Advocate. You are welcome to join us.
Our theme verse is Zechariah 4:6: “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit…”
Dear Lover of Prodigals,
As a writer, I sometimes receive requests to endorse books—most often from friends. They want me to vouch for them, to say their book is well written and worthy of reading. In a sense, my friends are asking be to be an advocate for them.
This is a re-post of a blog written by my dear friend who loves prodigals and their brokenhearted parents, Judy Douglass. Her 7 prayers are perfect for our troubled children. Our sons and daughters who are caught in the clutches of alcohol, drugs or any other addiction, self-injury, mental illness, same sex identity issues, in jail or prison, need us to pray fervently and with power. Praying the Scriptures is the best way I know. These prayers are exactly what you need.
Praying for the people I love—my family, my friends, my co-workers, my church, my neighbors—is a joy and a privilege. When I know specifics to pray, I pray those. Often, though, I find my prayers are more general, using Scripture and the principles from the Word that the Father desires to be increasingly true in our lives.
Here are seven of the kinds of prayers I bring to Abba.
1. Love of God
May she know that You are so in love with her—that You delight in her. May she comprehend that she is loved and treasured by You, the God who has pursued her and rescued her and forgiven her. May she remember that nothing can ever separate her from Your love. (Jeremiah 31:3; Zephaniah 3:17; Romans 8:38-39)
Where can a parent find comfort when their heart’s been broken? When I was in deep, emotional pain I felt fragile and unsteady. I needed real comfort and something solid to hold on to. Actually, I needed it this past Saturday, the day before Easter, when my husband Tom almost died. That’s why this blog didn’t get posted when I had planned.
His heart stopped during a 5K race. He needed both CPR and a defibrillator to be revived. I thought he was gone, BUT God . . . we’re in awe of His goodness.
My heart was also broken by my daughter’s struggle with addiction, self-harm, suicidal thoughts and mental illness. I know what emotional pain is all about. Both of these experiences have brought me my toughest days and darkest nights. Maybe you understand.
During an especially difficult spring several years ago, I decided to read the Easter story again in all four gospels. What I found renewed my hope—for my daughter and for me.
These are the truths that encouraged and comforted me. Today, after nearly losing my husband, they mean more than ever. I experienced them in a whole new way.
- God is all-powerful.
If He could raise Jesus from the dead, then He can do the impossible in your child’s life! And in yours!
Yesterday was Palm Sunday. Easter is less than a week away. It’s a day of hope and new beginnings. But before the resurrection came the crucifixion—a lot of pain and suffering and betrayal and questions and mystery. Does that describe your life today?
Are you a parent who doesn’t feel very hopeful? Your child is struggling—a lot. Your story is complicated and way too long to tell in one sitting. You can’t help it—you feel hopeless.
Your son may be incarcerated or have a drug/alcohol problem. Your daughter may have done much damage to herself, continuously inflicting wounds on her body. Mental illness and suicide attempts plague them. In and out of rehabs, their struggle never ends.
They’ve made countless terrible mistakes including marriages and same-sex relationships; now there may be grandchildren in the picture. Their struggles have brought you more brokenness and heartache than you ever thought possible.
Their troubles are breaking your heart. What is there to hope for now?