Broken. Crushed. Lifeless. Grief-stricken. Depressed. Heartsick. Sorrowful. Sleepless. Incapacitated. Stunned. Immobilized. Numb. Inconsolable. Despairing. Dejected. Distressed. Downcast. Hopeless. Miserable. Devastated.
These adjectives describe how parents feel when their children’s choices and behaviors break their hearts. Their sons and daughters are deeply troubled—they are too. Neither of them know what to do next or where to find help.
Is that you, friend? It was me.
My daughter had bipolar disorder, engaged in self-harm, cut herself to cope with deep inner pain she couldn’t talk about, and self-medicated with alcohol and drugs. In addition to this, she was in danger of dying by suicide. When all of her struggles became known to my husband and me, it was as though we had been in a serious car accident, yet our wounds were invisible. in shock, we felt like our daughter had died, but no one knew. On the outside we looked fine, but on the inside, we were far from fine. We couldn’t even remember what that was or if we would ever be “fine” again.
We hurt beyond our ability to describe. We felt like the walking wounded—the living dead. Sadly, in these situations, many of us don’t get the care we need. Most people don’t understand. They unintentionally make statements that hurt us even more. They mean well but they can’t fathom what we need. Clueless, they don’t know what to do to help us. How could they unless they’ve walked in our shoes?
Does this describe you? Do you identify with any of the adjectives in the opening paragraph? If you do, you may not realize your fragile condition. Dear mom or dad, you are not functioning at your usual capacity. You are in a weakened condition—in survival mode. You’re not coping as well as you did in the past, either. You’ve stepped into emotional quicksand and find yourself sinking.
Don’t Let Your Child’s Circumstances Defeat You
Please don’t let the circumstances with your child take you down and defeat you.
Don’t allow them bury you.
Don’t let them destroy you.
Refuse to believe the lies that fill your mind.
Remember this: Your suffering won’t last forever, even though it feels like it will. The problem is that you don’t know how long this will last. You don’t know how or when your suffering will end. You don’t know what to expect tomorrow, next month, or next year. Uncertainty keeps you off-balance, unsettled. Maybe you should wear a big sign around your neck, “Fragile. Handle with care”?
But God Knows and He Cares
Dear parent, you may not know what tomorrow holds, but God knows. He has not forgotten you. He sees your pain. He understands what you are going through. He hears your cries for mercy, and He cares. He cares more than you can imagine. When you feel like you can’t take one more step, He will carry you. He gets how fragile you are. He will handle you with care—with great care—with tender loving care. He’ll take all your broken pieces and put you back together again. You can give each one to Him.
I find great comfort and peace when I focus on these truths. I found them when I read the Bible, especially the Psalms. I also found them when I read the stories of other parents who survived their nightmare (many are listed on our website on the “Books” page). And I found them when I talked to a counselor, met with other hurting parents in a support group, and when I prayed. God comforted me through these various ways. If you don’t already do these, I encourage you to try adding them into your life. They can make a big difference.
What Can You Do?
What can you do today? What steps can you take for your well-being, even though your son or daughter still suffers, their situation remains unresolved? Even though you have no idea how or when their story will end?
- Never give up—on your child, or on yourself.
- Handle yourself (and your child) with 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 them. Maybe they haven’t even met your child, but they care about them because they care about you. Prayer is powerful. It’s an untapped resource, one we could never have enough of. Like sunscreen on a sunny day in Florida, apply prayer regularly, liberally, and profusely for the best results. Anything is possible with God.
Bible verses that helped me:
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (I Peter 5: 7 NIV).
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 NIV).
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up (Luke 18: 1 NIV).
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
***Click here to find out how you can read the Bible on your phone.
***Send me an email if you need help finding a support group or counselor in your area. Many support groups are now available online if there’s not one near you and many counselors now offer appoiintments online. Email me at: email@example.com