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? Pause a few minutes to take inventory of your heart-garden. Are weeds running rampant; are plants withering from neglect?
If you feel dead inside, overwhelmed, and depressed you may have become emotionally unhealthy. If so, it’s time to rid yourself of what’s killing you.
But please, don’t despair. With proper care you’re going to be okay.
When I work in my flower beds, the first thing I must do is assess the problems. If I’m not sure, I call on a professional. They look things over and tell me the remedy.
The same is true with our hearts. These are a few issues I identified in mine:
- Fear and worry
- Bitterness and Resentment
- Self-absorption and self-pity
Do you recognize any in yours?
Left unattended, these weeds of the heart tend to take over. As soon as you’re aware of them beginning to spread, it’s a warning sign. You have to get busy and do something before they run rampant and do more damage. The longer you wait, the more work is required. The same is true with a garden or lawn. Neglect only makes the issues harder to deal with.
Please don’t delay. Take a close look at your heart. Ask yourself, are any of these beginning to cause me a problem? Each has the power to harm you and damage the relationship with your child.
These 8 things helped me stay emotionally healthy. I hope they help you too.
1) Be honest with yourself about the weeds you struggle with.
2) Talk openly with a friend who’s a good listener and won’t judge you.
4) Write out your feelings in a journal.
5) Talk with a counselor/pastor/priest/clergy-person for extra support and help. You might only see them once, but it could make a big difference.
6) If you’re an artist draw, paint or create something that expresses how you feel.
I’m not very good with my hands so I made a poster that showed what my life was like before and after the problems surfaced with my daughter. I wrote adjectives and cut pictures from magazines, etc. It turned out to be a very insightful activity that led me to explore my inner world more than I had previously.
7) Talk to God. Give your struggles and feelings to Him in prayer. Ask for courage and for His healing touch.
8) Turn to the Bible. God will use it to encourage and strengthen you.
“When I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me the strength I need” (Psalm 138:3).
Thank you, God, for caring about the condition of my heart. I finally see how damaged my emotional well-being has become. Give me determination to do the hard work of weeding my inner garden. I need Your strength. Please come quickly to help me. I need You so much. Amen.
*What would you add to my list? Please share your ideas in comments.