Broken. Crushed. Lifeless. Grief-stricken. Depressed. Heartsick. Sorrowful. Sleepless. Incapacitated. Stunned. Immobilized. Numb. Inconsolable. Despairing. Dejected. Distressed. Downcast. Hopeless. Miserable. Torn-up. Devastated. These adjectives describe how many moms and dads feel whose children are abusing alcohol or drugs, in jail or prison, have an eating disorder, engage in self harm, have a mental illness (Bipolar, Depression, Schizophrenia, Obsessive Compulsive, etc.), are involved in same-sex attraction, pornography or a sex addiction . . . the list could go on and on.
It’s like you have just been in a serious accident, yet your wounds are invisible to the naked eye. Comparable to experiencing a death, but no one knows. On the outside you look okay, yet in reality you are dying inside, you are hurting beyond your ability to describe. You are one of the walking wounded . . . the living dead. You aren’t getting the special care you need. Or people know, but they don’t “get it”, so they do and say they wrong things. They mean well but they just don’t understand. They don’t know what to do for you. How could they?
Does this describe you? Did you see yourself here as you read over those adjectives? If so, you may not even realize your fragile condition. You are not up to your usual capacity. You are in a weakened condition. You are in survival mode. You just can’t cope as well as you previously did. The stresses of life are getting to you more than they did in the past. You’ve stepped into quicksand and feel yourself sinking.
Let me encourage you to not let this defeat you. Don’t let it suck the life out of you. Don’t let it destroy you. Don’t believe the lies that may be filling your mind. This won’t last forever, even though it feels like it will. The problem is today you don’t know how long it will last. You don’t know how or when it will end. You don’t know what to expect from tomorrow or next month, much less next year. This uncertainty keeps you off-balance. Unsettled. You feel like you should have a large sign hanging around your neck that reads, “Fragile, handle with care!” Everybody please be nice to me or I might break!
I want you tell you that God has not forgotten you. He sees your pain. He knows what you are going through. He hears your cries for mercy. And he cares. He cares more than you can imagine. And He will help you. When you feel like you can’t take one more step he will carry you. He knows how fragile you are right now. He will handle you with care . . . with great care . . . with Tender Loving Care. He won’t let you break.
I find great comfort and peace when I focus on these truths. I find them when I read the Bible, especially Psalms; when I read the stories of other parents who have gotten through their nightmare without breaking apart; when I talk to a counselor; when I meet with other hurting parents in a support group and when I pray. God sends me comfort through these various ways. If you don’t already do these things, I encourage you to try them.
Most of all, never give up — on your child, or on yourself. Handle yourself (and your child) with PRAYER — with a lot of prayer. Ask a few of your closest friends (at least 6) to pray for your child and for you. Choose people you know love you and your child. Maybe they haven’t even met your child, but they care about them because they care about you. Prayer is powerful. It is an often untapped resource! Use it!! It is one resource there will never be a shortage of!
These Bible verses help me:
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (I Peter 5: 7)
“Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.” (Psalms 57: 1)
” Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” (Luke 18: 1)
A few helpful books for you would be:
Healing is a Choice by Stephen Arterburn
Praying Prodigals Home by Quinn Sherrer and Ruth Ann Garlock
Prayers for Prodigals: 90 Days of Prayers by James Banks