Earthquakes in your parenting? Do not fear!

The earthquake this past week on the eastern coast of the U.S. struck fear in the hearts of many people.  No way!  How could this happen?  What next?  So many emotions similar to what parents in pain experience.  Shock, denial and fear are huge.  This Bible verse comes to mind:

“I called on Your name, O Lord, out of the lowest pit.
You have heard my voice, “Do not hide your ear from my prayer for relief, from my cry for help.”
You drew near when I called on You;
You said, “Do not fear!”
(Lamentations 3: 55-57)

Ever feel like you are in “the lowest pit”?  I sure have. . . . exactly like this verse describes . . . . Crying out to God to hear my prayer and bring relief, to do something and please hurry!

I don’t know about you, but if I am really honest I would tell you that when I draw near to God I don’t always feel his nearness.  Oh yes, I have felt it — definitely — powerfully — many times, but not every time. . . . those other times I have to rely on my faith and what I believe to be true.   This passage tells me that when I cry out to God and do my best to seek him in my pain,  he responds!  He draws near!  He not only hears, but he takes action . . . He comes to me!   He is moved by my pain.  It touches him.  He is not apathetic towards me.  Don’t you ever believe that!  That is a lie.

What does he say to us?  “DO NOT FEAR!”  Wow.  He says exactly what we need to hear.  He addresses our greatest need down deep at the core of our being.  It’s often unspoken, but he knows it’s there.  This fear is constantly just beneath the surface.  My child’s on drugs?  They have a problem with alcohol?  They’re cutting themselves?  They have an eating disorder?  They have a mental illness?  They’re suicidal?  Attracted to the same sex?  No way!  That sense of foreboding, of what might be coming out there somewhere in the future.  If you weren’t already in the lowest pit, this fear can throw you into it!

So today I pray that this verse will remind you that when your world is “quaking” and you are crying out to God for help, that he hears you, and he will come near to speak words of comfort to your soul.  Exactly what you need to hear.
Dear mom or dad, hear your Heavenly Father, Mighty God, King of the Universe, for whom nothing is too hard, whispering to your heart, “Do not fear!”  May this reassurance lift you out of the pit and set your feet on solid ground , even if an earthquake in your world throws you there, because you know that you are Not Alone!

Do Not Fear!

Embarassment and Shame Isolate Parents in Pain

As I have journeyed down the road of having a child who has struggled with addictions, self harm, mental health issues, sexual trauma and suicide attempts much of this was travelled alone, in isolation.  It was a horrible time to withdraw, but that’s what we do, isn’t it?  We feel so much embarassment and shame.  So much guilt.  We can’t bear for anyone to know the truth.  What would they think of us?  Of our parenting?   What would they think of our son or daughter?  We want to protect ourselves.  We want to protect them.  We want to run and hide.  We want to keep it all a secret.  Shhhhh!!!!!!  Don’t let it slip out!  Don’t tell anyone!  Don’t let your guard down!   Keep pretending you are fine.  Everything’s fine!  Sure you are . . . truthfully, you’re dying inside.  Another phrase I like that we first heard in recovery circles is, “Our secrets keep us sick”.  How true.  They keep us sick and they keep us alone.

I had to become incredibly desperate before I would open up and tell anyone what was going on with my daugther.  I had to be thoroughly convinced that I couldn’t do this on my own without “community” around me.  Continuing in isolation had to look worse to me than the possible repercussions of facing the people in my world with the ugly, ugly truth.  It just felt so very risky.  So unsafe.  I felt so . . . so vulnerable and unprotected.  Like one of those bad dreams where you find yourself stark naked in public and you can’t find a safe place to take cover!  Eeeeek!!!!!  What if I was judged or reprimanded for my parental errors?  What if they rejected me, thought badly of me?  What if it ruined my reputation in the community?   How would I handle it all?  Would I have any answers to questions like, “Gee, I wonder what you did wrong?”  “Why didn’t you do this, or that?”  Would I start crying and never be able to stop?

My husband and I had each other to talk to.  My husband is a wonderful listener and comforter.  That was great, but after awhile that can put a strain on your relationship.   We realized we each needed others to share with and support us.  Sometimes we were so depleted and drained we did’t have much to offer each other.    We came to the conclusion that we had to take the risk and reach out to others.  When we finally began to open up, we were only met with words of understanding, comfort and compassion.   We were so blessed and I am so so thankful.   I have heard many horror stories from others who were not so blessed.  As a result they have been deeply wounded.  I am so sorry if you are one of them.  I hope you will try again.  There really are “safe” people out there you can be honest with who will accept you and support you.

A key thing that helped me stop isolating was when my daughter’s story became very public. It was shared worldwide on the internet becoming the fuel that started the non-profit To Write Love on Her Arms.  You can go to their website at www.twloha.com, click on “where it all began” in the right hand column, then click on “READ THE STORY HERE”.   Now I had no choice!  Nothing was secret anymore!  It actually freed me up to share openly, ready or not!  I never knew how good this would be for me.  I quickly realized that isolating due to embarassment and shame only increases our pain, because it allows the pain to fester inside us.  Our pain needs to be released, “drained”, so it can’t keep hurting us so much.

So I encourage you to find a few safe people and be honest with them.  (Maybe for you it also means seeing a counselor or a spiritual advisor.)  Be honest and tell them what is going on with your child.  Bring your secrets out of the closet into the light.   You just might be surprised to find out how many other parents are suffering in silence, too!  Just like you!  You are NOT alone!  And when you open up and risk being vulnerable, you inspire others to do the same!  It’s contagious!

A book that really helped me, written by a woman whose unthinkable family tragedy with her son also became public, is When I Lay My Isaac Down by Carol Kent.  It is a true story and very impacting.  You can get it at Amazon.

“Renee” the movie – it’s about my daughter!

An amazing phenomenon to my husband and I is that earlier this year a movie was made about our daughter, Renee’s, struggle with addiction, depression, self harm and suicide.  It will be released sometime in 2012 in major movie theatres all over the country.  Our whole family’s desire is that this movie will be the catalyst to bring renewed hope to the thousands (if not millions) who suffer as Renee has.  We also have a pretty big dream — that every day people like you and me who see it, in every community across this nation, will be so deeply moved that they will choose to take action.  They will be motivated to make a difference in one of these areas.

There are so many needs related to these issues.  Does your community have parent support groups?  What about support groups (or any kind of help) for those who self harm?  Suicide hot lines?  Support for family and loved ones who have been affected by suicide?  There is no limit to the good that could come from this movie.  Many beautiful things.  Life-changing things.  My husband and I (as well as Renee) have found that as we are willing to be real and share our journey, others are helped.  Our pain can result in others being helped.  There can be “Purpose for the Pain”.  (this is the title of a book Renee wrote — a journal chronicling her journey.  I will say more about that another time.  If you google the title, it can be ordered online.)

So, here’s the first release of “behind the scenes video” from the making of “Renee” the movie.  I’d love to hear your comments!  If you are interested you can find out more about the movie as it progresses closer to being released on their facebook page (facebook.com/reneethemovie).

http://youtu.be/OhM84RnM6hQ

“All things are possible with God.”  (Mark 10:27)