Parents whose children have broken their hearts find it easy to end up in emotional bondage. It feels terrible. So many choices and struggles: alcohol, drugs, same-sex relationships, jail or prison, mental illness, self-injury, pornography, the list goes on and on. Do you want to be free again? I bet you want your life back. I did.
I made a discovery: I could be set free through the power of forgiveness. For me, it was part of the process of gaining back my life. Now that’s something to celebrate!
There is a way to be free. It’s found in these four steps to Emotional Freedom:
1) Forgive our child – for hurting us. We may be furious and resentful over how we’ve been treated. We don’t trust them, can’t believe them, don’t even know them anymore. We’re angry at what they’re doing to themselves, too. We must forgive even if they don’t ask us to. Jesus said, “forgive and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37).
2) Forgive ourselves – for not being the perfect parent. There isn’t one. Even though we did our best, we still tend to feel guilty over any part we may have played. If we don’t forgive ourselves we’ll end up living under the weight of blame, shame and a host of other feelings that God never intended. He gave our children a free will to make their own choices. Don’t forget what happened in the Garden of Eden to the only perfect parent (Genesis 2).
3) Forgive others – for hurting our child. This includes those who influenced them negatively, encouraged their destructive choices, took advantage of them, or didn’t help them when they could have.
4) Forgive God – for allowing our child to go astray; for not answering our prayers to keep this from happening or protecting them. He doesn’t need to be forgiven. He didn’t do anything wrong. In reality,WE need to be forgiven if we’ve begun to blame Him, allowing resentment to build up in our hearts – maybe without realizing it.
Forgiveness is not just for the person who needs forgiving. It’s also for us, the “forgiver”.
Forgiveness doesn’t make the other person right, it makes you free. (Al-Anon)
Forgiveness isn’t to condone or excuse the actions or behaviors of others.
Some of our children don’t know they need forgiving, or even remember the offense. Therefore, one reason to forgive is for our own sake.
“If we hold on to our anger, we stop growing and our souls begin to shrivel.” – M. Scott Peck
Our child may have inflicted deep wounds in our hearts and cost us a lot: loss of health, sleep, time at work, finances spent trying to help them or ourselves; damaged relationships – with them, our spouse, other children, other family members and even friends; loss of our mental and emotional well-being. Our faith can be weakened or we may even walk away from it in disappointment and confusion.
Forgiveness. We need to offer it. If we don’t, it will lead to bitterness.
Jesus is our example. We forgive out of obedience to Him – because He forgave us.
It’s a long, slow process, but if you choose, you can be set free. There may not be much to celebrate right now, but you can get there and that’s worth lighting a sparkler for!
What has helped you feel free again???
This is a great Scripture verse:
Help me forgive in these four areas. I want to follow Your example. Anger, resentment, guilt, and bitterness are wearing me out. I want to be set free for my own well-being. On my own I can’t, but I’m willing, so please, show me how.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
**Some of this content is in my book You Are Not Alone: Hope for Hurting Parents of Troubled Kids, in the chapter on forgiveness. Order your copy today through our website or wherever fine books are sold. And if you read it (or have read it), would you do me a big favor and write a review on Amazon? Bu doing so you can help more hurting parents find the encouragement, comfort and hope they need. Thank you!