Are you a brokenhearted parent due to your son or daughter’s behaviors? Is it sapping the life out of you?
Do you think it’s because of something you did? Do you feel guilty, as though it was somehow your fault?
Are you so embarrassed and ashamed that you can’t tell anyone? You won’t reach out for help?
Do you keep helping, giving money and rescuing from consequences because you have the need to protect them from pain?
Has fear about the what-ifs and unknowns consumed you?
Are you so overcome with anger and resentment that it’s making you sick, giving you an ulcer or heart palpitations?
If you can say yes to any of these questions, then I have two words for you:
How do you adequately thank someone for saving your child’s life who was in bondage to addictions? What do you say to the person who selflessly gave so much of themselves with no thought of gaining anything in return? What do you give them in return? I don’t know. I’ve asked myself this question for the last eight years. Nothing seems to be sufficient. There aren’t enough words, enough hugs, enough prayers, gifts,or demonstrations of gratitude.
When I was brokenhearted, feeling hopeless over my daughter’s alcohol and drug abuse, cutting, depression and suicidal tendencies, an amazing thing happened. God brought an ordinary man who did something extraordinary. As a result, he became my hero. Let me tell you about him. His name is David McKenna.
I’ve been thinking a lot about bicyclist Lance Armstrong’s fall from sports stardom. He was at the top of his game, high up on a pedestal. Admired by millions worldwide no one wanted to believe the accusations could be true. Not Lance Armstrong – then he got caught. Illegal drug doping. Stripped of titles and awards the consequences were severe. Loss of reputation and pride would be brutally painful. Devastating. If I were in his shoes I’d want to keep my illegal activities a secret forever. And they were, for a while.
Parents whose sons and daughters are involved in addictions, other illegal activities, self-mutilation, homosexual relationships, eating disorders or an untreated mental illness, can learn something from Lance. Like his fans, we don’t want to believe anything could be wrong. Not our child. This is our son, our daughter, who we love with all our hearts. So we fool ourselves. We bury our heads in the sand and pretend everything is fine.
This is a letter to brokenhearted parents written by a dear friend of mine. My friend’s name is Judy Douglass. Her husband is the president of Cru, formerly Campus Crusade for Christ, the largest international Christian mission organization in the world.
Like many of you who are reading this, Judy has a son who has brought her a lot of pain and heartache. Because of what she’s been through, she has a passion for encouraging other parents like herself. Read and be blessed by her letter:
Dear Lover of Prodigals,
How many times have I said, “Sigh”?! With a deep sigh.
When my prodigal does the same thing again!
When an anticipated good outcome becomes not good at all.
When bad choices require hard choices of me.
When my prayers don’t seem to accomplish anything.
Something I hate to do is wait, especially when I’m waiting for something I want to have happen. I can wait for a long time with no problem at all for something I’m dreading: A doctor’s appointment; results of a medical test; getting my teeth cleaned; a meeting to resolve some conflict or inter-personal problem – anything unpleasant. I don’t really want these things to happen. They can take a long time to occur as far as I’m concerned. That’s just fine with me. But waiting for something I want to have happen, that I’m hoping for a good outcome – well, that’s quite different. I don’t like to wait for those things, do you?
For me, that kind of waiting feels like a barren, frozen wasteland. And waiting for my child to change when they’re making life-threatening choices, suffering from cutting and mental illness and has made suicide attempts, is pure agony. During a time in my life when I was having a particularly difficult time waiting for changes in my daughter, I came across a book I found to be quite helpful. It had a powerful impact on me when all I could do was cry out to God saying, “Help!” I decided to share part of it with you in today’s post. It is written by two moms who have been there and understand what we go through every day. I hope their writing will encourage you as it did me. You may decide to purchase one for yourself. The book is called Praying Prodigals Home by Quin Sherrer and Ruthanne Garlock. I have included a portion from pages 58 – 60.
“Of all the strategies we could suggest, waiting is perhaps the hardest. Somehow we feel better about dealing with our prodigals if we can take action – it gives us the false illusion that we are in control of things. The truth is, we’re not in control.
Today I am featuring a guest blogger. I thought it would be good to hear from a variety of parents who are on this journey of experiencing great pain in their parenting experience. This blog is from Sharron Cosby. We met at a writer’s retreat this past fall and discovered we had much in common. Sharron’s passion is offering hope and encouragement to parents reeling from their children’s drug addiction problems. Her family is in recovery, along with her 33-year-old son, after many years of his drug and alcohol abuse. She’s recently completed a 90-day devotional book for families with an addict in their lives.
Sharron and her husband, Dan, a Certified Addiction Professional, formed Recovery Church in May of 2012 to provide a safe, non-threatening environment for people in recovery to experience God’s grace.
Dan and Sharron have been married 38 years; have three grown children and five grandchildren.
And now let’s hear from Sharron.
Since it’s a new year, I’d like to challenge you to give up something you love: food, drink, or an activity that brings you extraordinary pleasure. Why? To help you gain perspective on what your addict faces each day.
In my last blog I talked about three weapons for hurting parents. Time, Prayer and Love. As I kept thinking about it, I have a few more strategies. Here are three for parents whose children are causing them great pain due to their choices and behaviors. So often we end up being victims who unknowingly keep doing the same things over and over that aren’t really helping. Yes, our own behaviors can open us up to increased amounts of heartache and resentment.
Do you have days when you feel helpless to do anything for your child who is suffering with an addiction, mental illness, self harm or some other self-destructive behavior? Join the parents-in-pain club. We all struggle with these feelings and at times they can be overwhelming. It feels like there’s nowhere to turn. You become desperate to do something to help your son or daughter, but you realize you’re powerless to do so.
Here are three helpful thoughts