Can you remember when a special event was ruined for you because of something bad that happened? Maybe it was your birthday. Maybe it was Christmas.
I remember when this happened to me. It was Thanksgiving day in 1997 – a sunny, cold fall day in central Illinois. I was up early to prepare my family’s special breakfast before we watched Macy’s Christmas parade. I look forward to it all year. The house was full of cheerful anticipation as tasty aromas wafted through the house.
Suddenly the phone rang. My world was about to come crashing down.
“Hello?” I answered, expecting it to be one of our parents wishing us a happy day, but it was rather early for them to call.
“Dena, honey,” I heard my dad’s quivering, emotional sounding voice on the other end of the hard, plastic receiver. My stomach began to sink. Something’s wrong.
My mom was doing so much better after an eight month-long illness. She was finally going home later today. I couldn’t wait to talk with her. What a wonderful day it would be.
“I’m so sorry to have to tell you this . . . but I just got a call from the nursing facility . . . and it’s about your mom . . . honey, she passed away early this morning while they were helping her get dressed.” Nooooo!!!!
Thanksgiving has never been the same. Her visitation would be on my birthday. I didn’t want to celebrate anything that year. Not Thanksgiving, my birthday or Christmas. I didn’t care.
Have you had a similar experience with one of your children? You’ve been so hurt, wounded, rejected, shocked, and disappointed that now you could care less about the holidays. No Norman Rockwell Christmas for you.
The following short story was penned by George Matheson ~ late 19th century Scottish minister and hymn writer.
Sandra felt as low as the heels of her Birkenstocks as she pushed against a
D-Thorn.com photo cred.
November gust and the florist shop door. Her life had been easy, like a spring breeze. Then, in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a minor automobile accident stole her ease. During this Thanksgiving week she would have delivered a son.
She grieved over her loss. As if that weren’t enough, her husband’s company threatened a transfer. Then her sister, whose holiday visit she coveted, called saying she could not come. What’s worse, Sandra’s friend infuriated her by suggesting her grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer? Had she lost a child? No! “She has no idea what I’m feeling,” Sandra shuddered. Thanksgiving? “Thankful for what?” she
photo cred. Joshua Earle
Are you a parent in pain? Be honest. Do you feel thankful? On my darkest days, I didn’t.
Does the mention of the word thankful make you want to run and hide? When your heart’s been broken by your beloved son or daughter, the last thing you feel like doing is being thankful. The truth is, it feels like Thanksgiving Day will be horrible.
If they’re incarcerated, have AIDS, are slowly killing themselves with alcohol or drugs (or maybe an eating disorder), suffer with mental illness, threaten suicide repeatedly or self-injure continually but refuse help, you want the world to go away.
I felt that way when my daughter wasn’t doing well close to Thanksgiving.
But wait – there’s so much to be grateful for, even when you’re in pain. You may say, as I once did, “Shut up and don’t talk to me. It’s just not happening. How can I? There’s nothing to be thankful for! ”
I know, I know . . . it’s so easy to get stuck
Holidays are the most difficult time of the year for anyone in emotional pain, especially hurting parents. I’ve been one. Our hearts are full of pain and sadness over our child’s struggles and destructive choices. It may be from any number of things: alcohol, drugs, porn, self-injury, mental illness, eating disorders, trouble with the law, same-sexual identity issues and more.
Sometimes we wish we could skip the holidays altogether. We certainly don’t feel like being thankful or festive. All we can think about is the last trauma or the next one. We wonder where God is and how we’ll survive this so-called happy season?
Welcome Judy Douglass, today’s guest blogger.
My phone rang at 2 a.m., jarring me awake. I had been asleep for two hours in my hotel room, 1,000 miles from home. Not again, I thought. Which will this be—hospital or jail?
It was jail. My son was calling to tell me it was all a mistake; he shouldn’t have been taken to jail and could I help him with bail. And so I faced one more event in a long and challenging journey.
Ten years before we opened our home as a foster shelter to a 9-year-old boy who had been taken from his alcoholic, drug-addict mother. With slight trepidation, we were excited about the privilege God was entrusting to us. We were sure this boy was a gift from God.
The next years were not easy. The neglect and abuse he had experienced overshadowed everything we did for him.
I was a mess. My daughter was living on the streets, sleeping in parks and friend’s cars, out of control in her alcohol and drug abuse. Angry and grief-stricken, embarrassed and ashamed, my heart was full of guilt and fear. Unable to sleep or eat much, the stress was getting to me. My emotional health was seriously compromised.
One day I heard someone liken our hearts to a garden. Following that analogy, I realized mine was full of weeds and thorns. Major work needed to be done to keep my heart-garden from having the life choked out of it. If neglected it any longer, it would dry up altogether. Nothing healthy or attractive would remain.
Can you relate? Does it feel like trauma and stress are choking the life out of you?