3 Things Parents in Pain Need to Hear

When I was in so much pain from my 19 year old daughter’s destructive behaviors,  I thought I couldn’t bear it.  Death would have been easier — hers or mine!   Being the mom of  a child who was on the fast track to killing herself with alcohol, drugs, cutting (and other behaviors) I was consumed with every emotion – shock, guilt, fear, anger, grief and all the questions for which there were no answers.   Then I attended a conference for hurting parents and heard the 3 most wonderful statements that would ever help me.  They are known as ” The 3 C’s”  from Al Anon:

1)  You didn’t Cause it! (It’s NOT your fault – unless you encouraged them & aided them in their self-destruction!)

2)  You can’t Change it! (so stop trying – you’ll just make yourself crazy and them, too!)

3)  You can’t Cure it! (you can’t fix them – they have to want to get better.  You can’t force it on them!)

When I heard this it was like I had just put my feet in a cool mountain stream on an oppressively hot, humid day (like the stream in the photo –  it’s in Colorado!)  .  All I could think was, “Really?  You’ve got to be kidding me!”   These concepts were mind-boggling, yet so wonderful to hear.  Too good to be true and so freeing!

The statements were coming from a reliable source, a veteran parent who had been on this path a very long time (10 years).  He knew what he was talking about, so I could trust what he was saying.  I have repeated them to myself often in the 6 years since I first heard them.  They have helped me keep my feet on solid ground when my emotions tried to creep back in and deceive me again.

I think I like them so much because they address the lies we parents tend to believe.  We think these problems in our child’s life must be our fault – if we were a better parent this would never have happened; we should have done this, we should have done that, we should have . . . Hog wash!  No parent is perfect!  Our children make their own choices!

We think we have the ability to fix them, to change them , to make it all go away.  Oh how I wish this were true.  We just aren’t that powerful!  I’m afraid it’s just not that easy.  We can’t change them any more than we could change a daisy into a rose, or a walnut into an almond.  We can’t do it!

We think we have some control over their lives.  In reality, control is an illusion.  We have none!  Get used to it!  Accept it!  You’ll begin to relax and do a whole lot better when you do!  I did!  I may not be in control, but I believe Someone else is and that He has complete control over everything!  So I can trust Him and rest in this truth.

I believe God is the only one who can change, fix or cure anyone!  So, I have made the decision to stop thinking it’s all up to me and get out of the way so He  can work.

You can go to:  al-anon.alateen.org for more great information from this wonderful world-wide organization.  Their principles can help you with any problem you have no control over, not just alcoholism.

The conference I went to is called “You’re Not Alone” and they also have a great website:  notalone.org  You can even  listen to sessions from their conferences.

Spring’s Message of Hope

Springtime reminds me that there is always hope for anyone.  At the end of winter much of nature (trees, flowers, bushes) looks dead, even in Florida.  Leaves turn brown, dry up and fall off.  The plants and trees become dormant.  This happens to my Crepe Myrtle trees every year.  There are no leaves are on them anymore.  There’s nothing green anywhere.  They appear completely lifeless. But I know there is still life in them and they will come back like new in the spring.  If I prune them back, then they come back even more beautiful than the year before.  So, I always have hope for them!

In my back yard I also have a lot of flowering bushes that were damaged severely this year by the sub-freezing temperatures.  I was so sad.  I had really enjoyed an abundance of blue flowers on them most of the year. I could look out the window and see them from the kitchen sink whenever I was working there (quite often!).  But they had become nothing but lifeless sticks.  I was sure there was no hope for them.  I thought I should just give up on them, dig them up and plant something else in their place this spring.

Then I had this vague thought that just maybe I shouldn’t give up on them too quickly.  Just maybe I could prune them back, like my crepe myrtle trees  . . .  and wait.  . .  not believe how things looked, but wait and see what would happen this spring.  What could it hurt?  And if they came back, I would save myself a lot of work and money!

Well . . . .guess what happened?  About a month ago small signs of life began to be appear.  Little green sprouts were here and there all over them!  I was so shocked and thrilled at the thought that they just might make it!  And yes, as the days passed and I continued to wait, more and more green sprouts showed up until all the bushes were fully covered with all new leaves!  They were transforming into brand new bushes right before my very eyes!  It was so unexpected!

And then it hit me . . . that it is the same in our children’s lives.  God has given us the visual example in the season of spring to remind us of the promise of new life and the hope of re-birth.  What looks dead to your eyes isn’t dead to God’s eyes . . . it just looks like it is.  It’s all in your perspective.  God has knowledge we don’t have.  He has power we don’t have.
Father, do your pruning work in my child’s life.  Teach my heart the message of spring.  Remind me that you are working even when I can’t see any signs of it.  Help me hold on to hope and never give up.  Thank you for the promise of spring – – the promise of New Life and the very real Hope of a re-birth.  And, by the way, thank you for reviving my plants.  I can’t wait to see blue flowers from my kitchen sink again!
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions . . .”  (Eph. 2:4-5)
“. . . But hope that is seen is no hope at all.  Who hopes for what he already has?  But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”  (Rom. 8:24)
“Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God . . .” (Ps. 42:5a)