Hurting Parents Need Peace with the Unknown Outcome

I used to struggle so much with my need to know how my daughter’s journey with alcohol, drugs, depression, self harm, suicide attempts and sexual trauma would end.  The “not knowing” was making me crazy! I desperately needed to know the end of the story!   Does it bother you, too?  It kept me awake at night, gave me nightmares and an extremely heavy heart I could hardly carry around in my chest all day long.  I craved some kind of reassurance that one day everything would be “OK”.  I NEEDED this!

I chose this picture of a pile of broken pieces of cement (former border from my yard) because that is what this feels like.  It is a jumbled up mess that makes no sense to me.  Just a bunch of broken pieces that look so ugly.  What a mess.

I remember a season when I could barely smile.  Certainly couldn’t laugh.  I even wondered if I would ever be able to laugh again, and I am a very happy, positive person who likes to laugh a lot!   Who had I become?  What happened to me?  Where had I gone?  I was so sad.  So scared.  So lost.

It’s been over 13 years since my journey began, almost 10 since it ramped up.  My emotions have been all over the map.  Fear and worry have been my constant companions, destroying peace of mind on a daily basis.  What if this happens?  What if that happens?   What if she . . . what if, what if, what if.  Blagh!  I was “what-if-ing” myself to death!

I can only tell you that for me the only way I have found to deal with this and find peace again has been to trust God.  To “let go and let God” as Al-Anon says so well.  I had to give my daughter along with my need to know; along with all my worries, fears and cares for her welfare into His hands, into the hands of my higher power.  I couldn’t handle it anymore.  It was too much.  Too big.  Too hard.  Too consuming.  Too debilitating.  I was worn out from trying to carry it all on my own shoulders.  Peace has returned (for the most part), even though she is not “fixed”.  Of course I have my moments, but for the most part I have made peace with the unknown future.  I have let go of my need to know how it will turn out.  I have learned to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, with the not-knowing.  How?  By choosing to believe I can trust in an all-powerful, all-knowing God with the “rest of the story”, as story-teller Paul Harvey used to say.  Only God knows how it will all turn out and He’s got it!  So I don’t have to!

Now, I am not saying this means it will all turn out well in the end.  We have no guarantee of a fairy tale ending.  It may not end like we want.  Your child may end up in rehab, in jail, in the psych ward, needing meds their whole life, experiencing the long-term effects of what they’ve done to themselves . . . they could even die.  I’m so sorry to even say this, but it is true.  Any of these things could happen.  However, I believe we can still trust God even with these awful possibilities.   He sees.  He knows.  He will be there with you.  He will never leave you.  You can rest in that.

I challenge you to try it.  Let go and let God.  Give your child back to Him and trust the only One who knows everything.  He knows the who, what, when where and why. . .  and He is trustworthy.  If you doubt this just read the Bible and you will see him prove it over and over again.  You can “entrust your desire to know into his all-knowing.” – Sylvia Gunther, The Father’s Business.  As you gradually learn to do this I think you will see your nightmares decrease, your sanity return, the heaviness of your heart lighten and you might even laugh again.  Maybe even at my jokes!  (They’re really bad!  I’m the world’s worst joke teller!)

An amazing book that is an excellent example of parents who have learned to trust God with the not knowing is When I Lay My Isaac Down by Carol Kent.  Carol and her husband learned to trust all-knowing God with their desire to know when their worst fears became reality.  Their only child,  their son, committed murder and is now in prison for the rest of his life.  It sounds depressing but it is one of the books I read during my worst times that gave me the greatest hope.  It showed me that if I could let go of my need to “know” and keep trusting God, then one day I would be ok, even if my daughter never was.

As some of you know who have read my blogs before I always like to give you at least one Bible verse that has helped me.  Today I have several:

“Though an army beseige me, my heart will not fear” (Psalms 27:3a)

“The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalms 27:1)

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  (John 14:27)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…”  (Proverbs 3:5)

“But He knows the way that I take…”  (Job 23:10)

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways…”  (Isaiah 55:8)

“Great is the Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.”  (Psalms 127:5)

All-knowing God, help us let go a little more today of our need to know how this will end.  Help us trust you a little more.  Remind us that you are trustworthy; that you see, that you know, that you’ve got our child and you’ve got us!  Help us for we cannot do this on our own!  Amen.

The 3 A’s for Hurting Parents

Admit.  Acknowledge that there is a problem and that you are powerless over it.  This is where you begin.   Open your eyes.  Wake up.  Stop

My peace lily

denying.  Face the truth.  Yes, it’s scary, but you can do it!

Act.  Take action to get help for yourself and for your child (if they are under 18). Learn all you can about your child’s “issue” and become an expert on it.  Go to a professional (counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist, etc.) or take them to one.  Go to the library, research on the internet.   Find a support group and go to it.  Don’t just sit there, do something.  Don’t let the shock and pain you are in paralyze you.  Don’t isolate.  Instead, reach out for help.  There is a lot of help available to you!

Accept.  Face the situation.  It is what it is.  You cannot make it go away.  You cannot change them or fix them.  Take one day at a time.  Give your child back to God and trust him with their life.  Let go and let Him work.  Stop enabling.  Detach with love.  Then take care of yourself and get strong.  It takes a lot of courage to not enable.

This verse from the Old Testament encourages me so much:  “The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses His people with peace.”  (Psalms 29:11)  I try to read one Psalm every day.  They cover the whole spectrum of emotions and human experience.  They are like medicine for the heart!

A book that has helped me tremendously on my journey is Hope of a Homecoming by O’Rourke and Sauer.  You should check it out!

What do Parents in Pain Need?

Last night was the first night of the Florida Film Festival and Renee the movie(which is about my daughter) was the opening feature film. You can find out more about it and watch clips at the website:  reneethemovie.com  It’s a pretty big deal.  It’s a pretty crazy thing to me and to our family!  Just thinking about it I am taken back, remembering a very dark time in our journey with my daughter when I had lost all hope.  I had given up and resigned myself to her death because of her addictions, serious problems with cutting, severe depression and suicidal tendencies.  “Agony” barely describes the depth of what I felt.  It’s rough to keep on living and going about your days while your heart is dead and you are breaking into a million little pieces inside, isn’t it?  Many of you who are reading this know exactly what I am talking about.

So, when I read the quote below again today, I am reminded of how much it encouraged me the first time I ever read it, about 6 years ago.  It reminds me how much we need to have hope!  I pray the Lord God himself, the God of ALL hope,  will somehow give you a sense of renewed hope if you have lost it or if it is leaking out of your heart.

BUT, (and this may sound strange) not hope that your child will one may be “OK”.  . . . instead, I mean Hope that YOU will one day be OK.  That God will be with you no matter what.  That he will empower you to do the impossible.  He will carry you through.  He will redeem it all.  And of course He will never stop trying to reach them, oh, no!  But our hope must be in who He is and what he wants to do in us during this trial.

 

“You can live 40 days without food,

7 days without water,

And 7 minutes without air;

BUT you can’t live a moment without hope.”

 

I really like what the Bible says about hope, “May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  (Romans 15:13)

Easter’sTruths For Hurting Parents

When I am in deep emotional and psychological pain I need something solid to hold onto.  The things I have been through with my daughter have brought me the deepest pain of my life and therefore the greatest need for comfort and hope.  So I turn to what I believe is truth — the Bible.  When I read Luke 23:26 – 24:45, which tells most of the Easter story, I am struck by how much truth is in here that encourages me, comforts me and gives me hope as one whose child struggles with substance abuse, self harm, suicidal thoughts and mental illness.

I thought I’d share with you some of the truths I see in the Easter story that mean a lot to me as a parent in pain.  I hope maybe something here will resonate with your heart and give you a little more hope and comfort, too.  I need all I can get!  How about you?

God is all-powerful; if He can raise Jesus from the dead, then I know he can do the impossible in my child’s life, too!  And mine!

Nothing is too hard for God; NOT A THING (mental illness, addiction, a prison sentence, eating disorders, etc.)

Things may look hopeless today (Jesus suffered flogging, was unjustly convicted, died a brutal death on a cross, was buried and his body was in a tomb 3 days), BUT . . .  it wasn’t the end of the story!  It’s Friday (when Jesus died), but Sunday’s coming (Resurrection Day)!  Today is mystery to us; we can’t explain ‘why’; can’t understand or make sense of it with our own reasoning abilities – we must trust God no matter how things look.  Anything is possible for him!

You never know what God is doing.  We must believe he can redeem any situation and use it for good not just in my life and my child’s, but as a ripple effect in the lives of others who will see and hear about what God did.  No one ever imagined God would raise Jesus from the dead!  No way!

God DOES have a plan and he will be with us every step of the way as it unfolds.

There is always hope for anyone.  It’s never too late!  Jesus told the criminal on the cross beside him that he would be with him that day in paradise.  This man would die in just a few hours, but there was still hope for him.

God will do whatever it takes to reveal truth to people.  Earthquakes, the dead coming out of their tombs talking to people, angels bringing messages, Jesus appearing in a locked room and then disappearing, touching his pierced hands and side.  Yet, he gives to all free will to choose whether or not they will believe.  It’s not forced on anyone.  All who see and hear will not respond in faith.

God’s love is incredible, immeasurable and incomprehensible.  He loves every single person he ever made more than we could ever imagine; enough to enter into this messed up world in human form, in the person of Jesus, His son; allowing him to suffer and die a horrible death on a cross to pay the penalty for our offenses to him, so that we could be forgiven and cleansed, be made right with him, have an intimate relationship with him and have the free gift of eternal life.   “God so loved the world . . .” (John 3:16)  Yes, he surely does.  And that includes me and my child, no matter what they’ve done or what has been done to them.

God is faithful to keep his word throughout all generations.  He is trustworthy and dependable.  Fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies is throughout the Easter passages and all of the four gospels.

(from v. 26 “Did not the Christ have to suffer these things then enter his glory?”)  We may have to suffer to bring glory to God.  He has allowed suffering to come into my life through my child, but it has a bigger purpose.  It’s not about me, it’s about God and His glory!

**Which one of these truths means most to you today as a hurting parent?  Choose one and write it on an index card or piece of paper.  Put it out somewhere as a reminder to you of who God is and what He can do in your life or in your child’s life.  Look up these Bible verses and read them for yourself.   What else do you see?  I’m sure you’ll find even more truths than I did! 

***Pray and give thanks to God for the truth you wrote down and any other ones you find.  And keep your eyes on the cross!  Jesus is alive and lives to help us through anything we will ever face in our lives!  Our hope is real!

HERE ARE TWO VERY HELPFUL TIPS FOR SURVIVING A HOLIDAY: 

1) LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS.   IT WILL HELP YOU NOT FEEL SO BADLY IF THINGS DON’T HAPPEN LIKE YOU WANT!!!

2) DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY THIS YEAR IF YOUR PREVIOUS TRADITIONS WILL MAKE YOU FEEL MORE SAD AND UPSET.  START SOME NEW ONES YOU CAN ENJOY FROM THIS POINT ON!