I write to hurting, brokenhearted parents; parents whose dreams for their children have dried up and blown away in the wind. These moms and dads have experienced many of their worst nightmares, things they never imagined would happen – not to them; not to their child. Is that you? You felt like you lost your mind, your sense of well-being and your ability to hope. Filled with guilt and shame, you didn’t want anyone to know – not everything. No way. So you got pretty good at keeping secrets and staying to yourself. And it’s killing you.
My husband and I were in Colorado last month. We did a little sight-seeing one day and I had a fresh insight from something I saw that made me think of you – because I am one of you. I’ve been right where you are.
The cog train chugged along, making its way to the summit of Pike’s Peak. The view from our seats was breathtaking. Postcard-worthy. I couldn’t take pictures fast enough with my i phone. They’d be a little blurry from the movement, but I didn’t care. I had to try to capture the beauty unfolding before my Florida-girl eyes. A fresh snowfall the day before had blanketed evergreen trees, the mountain side and boulders of all sizes with a beautiful white that sparkled in the sun. Rushing streams and waterfalls were greeted by our fellow passengers with an echo of. Then the train conductor said something that caught my attention. A nudge in my spirit told me there was something here for you and me.
“Notice how the Aspen trees are always grouped together in groves or clusters. You’ll never see just one standing all alone by itself. The reason for this is because they share a common root system.” Stop. I need to ponder this.
Aspen trees are never alone. Why? They share a common root system, a foundation that joins them to one another. Linked together they stand strong, drawing strength from each other to withstand the storms that buffet the mountain. They had access to more nourishment and stability. They couldn’t be blown over as easily. They were better together. Better together. Wow.
What about us? From personal experience I can say that alone hurts more. It’s not good for our over-all health. When we try to weather harsh storms with our children all by ourselves, we’re more vulnerable. We’re cut off from the comfort we could receive. Damage can be done to our body, our marriage and our emotional well-being, not to mention our faith. If you’re a believer in Christ, we’re meant to be the church, a group of people who are united. A community. And we need each other – all the time – but especially during tough times. The Bible talks about this:
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2, ESV).
“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another . . .”(Hebrews 10:25, NLT).
“. . . you must encourage and help each other, just as you are already doing” (I Thessalonians 5:22).
We weren’t designed to be isolated loners like islands. We’re to be like groves of Aspen trees.
Dear God, thank you that you provided others for us to do life with. Please help us not isolate and withdraw; not pretend we’re okay when we’re not, and stay to ourselves any longer. Oh how we need encouragement and comfort from one another. Remind us of this lesson of the Aspen tree. Lead us to develop the supportive community we need so that we can stand strong – together – and with You.
In Jesus’ Name, who is our strength. Amen.
*One way to stand strong together is through being in a support group with other hurting parents who understand. Try Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, Celebrate Recovery (codependency groups) or let us help you start a group by using our materials. We wrote a Facilitator Manual to be a resource for others who want to start a group for parents. Send us a message if you’d like to see a sample.