My God Box: Help for Parents in Pain During the Holidays

by | Dec 18, 2023 | holidays | 6 comments

photo cred. Dena Yohe

Christmas is one week from today. Parents in pain need help during the holidays. This season is extra-hard for many, but especially for moms and dads who suffer from the destructive choices and troubles of their teen or adult children. In my last post on December 11th, I mentioned the idea of a God Box. I didn’t invent this concept. I learned about it in an Al-Anon meeting.

Using this technique has helped me deal with my anxieties. My heartfelt prayer for you is that using a God Box will help you too–any time of the year–but especially during the holidays.

How You Can Use a God Box:

  • Choose a box (any size) and write “God Box” or “My God Box” on the top.
  • Place a small notepad and pen inside.
  • Ask God to help you recognize when you’re anxious or upset about your child, then go get the box.
  • Write down what’s troubling you on a page in the notepad. Be honest with yourself. Don’t hold back.
  • Remove the paper fron the notepad. Fold it and put it in the box.
  • Say a prayer of release as you give your worries and fears to God. “I can’t fix this, God. I surrender. I give it to You.”
  • You might need to use several pages in your notepad if more than one distressing issue comes to mind.
  • Place the lid back on and put the box away in your designated safe place: a dresser drawer, a closet shelf, or under the bed are a few suggestions. But be careful not to hide the box so well that you can’t find it the next time you need to use it! I did that once!

A Cathartic Process


photo cred. pexels

I can’t explain why, but there’s something extremely cathartic about this simple process.

When I write down what I’m worried about, I’m better able to recognize what’s going on in my heart. I become more in touch with my feelings. It provides a healthy means to express and release my emotions.

When I tuck the paper inside the box, this symbolizes giving my cares to God, placing my child in His hands, and letting them go. I acknowledge I’m not in control, but He is.

When I put the box away, this gesture further symbolizes the intention of my heart to surrender my concerns and give my child back to their Maker. He’s the One who gave them to me in the first place. Ultimately, they’re His, not mine. This action further demonsrates the trust I have in my heavenly Father who loves my child light years more than I ever could.

After I used a God Box for several years, I got the idea of writing out my Christmas Wish List (I talked about that in my last blog). I put my list inside the box along with the other folded papers. Finding the time to record my list took a few days — there’s no shortage of distractions this time of year — but I got it done.

A Powerful Experience

What a powerful experience this was for me. I wrote about my hopes and desires for my precious child. I put them in the box, then in a secret place. I walked away and left them there. When I did, I breathed a sigh of relief. Through repeated use of this therapeutic process, I’ve learned to trust God more. The tight grip I had held on my child’s problems loosened. I couldn’t solve their troubles for them — I was never supposed to do that — but I could put them in God’s strong, loving hands.

God’s got this. He’s got them.

I can relax.

How good for my soul.

How freeing.

Nothing changed with my child, but I changed.

I wasn’t the same.

A few minutes. That’s all it took.

The results: More peace. Less fear. No longer consumed with worry, sleep improved. Anxiety and sadness decreased. Calmness and serenity increased.

What a simple activity to use a God Box. What remarkable results for my heart and mind.

Give Yourself the Gift

I challenge you to give yourself the gift of using a God Box this holiday season. Find a box and get started today. This simple, beneficial process might help you find more peace. You might even become less fearful, like I did, as you surrender control of your beloved child a little more to the only One who has all the power needed to help them.

Dear parent, there are no holidays from tragedies or heartbreaking experiences. They abound in almost every family and community around the world. But Jesus, Emmanuel, has come. God is with us.

  • He is our Comforter who soothes our raw emotions.
  • He is our Strength who sustainsus in our weakness.
  • He is our Prince of Peace who relieves our fears.

Pray with me: Dear God, help us take the time to use a God Box. Please work through this simple process to bring us more peace in our pain. We look to you for every need this holiday season and throughout the coming year. We need your comfort, strength, and peace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Dear friend, may these Bible verses come alive for you today:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 Contemporary English Version)

Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again…you will increase my honor and comfort me once again. (Ps. 71:20-21 NIV)

Recommended Book

Moments for Families with Prodigals by Robert J. Morgan. This wonderful book is full of encouraging devotions and stories. Definitely one of my all-time favorites.

**If you try using a God Box, I’d love to hear about your experience! Please share in comments or email me personally. 

*from the archives


  1. Sandra

    Your process makes sense to me, Dena. I do the same with entries in my journal. Once my worries are on paper, I can leave them (mostly) in God’s hands. Identifying, giving words to, what’s troubling me most is a practice I’ve had for many years. I need it. The God Box is even better. What do you do with your deposits over time?

    We are especially praying for Renee during this time of shocking

    • denayohe

      Sandra, I’m so glad you asked me about what I do with them over time. I completely forgot to mention this! Periodically I go through the box and pull a few of the papers out out and read over them. It’s been amazing to see how God has worked. Many of the things I feared never happened. It’s a little like reading over a prayer journal. I’ve found it to be a faith-building and encouraging exercise. As a matter of fact, I think it’s time to do it again.

  2. Karen

    Yes, yesterday was Christmas, and I had prayed and hoped for a happy day with my dearly beloved son. But it was just another tear-sodden day of wretchedness and beating myself up because my son is in such despair and it’s all my fault. I could hardly even pray because if God is listening then why does everything seem to get worse instead of better?
    But it can only be the love of God that led me to your blogs last night. Finally there is someone who understands, who knows exactly all the dark places we have been to, who offers sound Christian advice instead of the kind but unhelpful platitudes that others offer when they really don’t know how to react to our latest trauma.
    I have ordered your book and I thank you for writing it. May God bless you and the work you do to bring God’s hope through to all hurting parents.

    • Tom and Dena Yohe

      Karen, we are so sorry for all the pain and a hard Christmas, but so grateful that your loving Creator led you to us. I’m so glad you ordered my book and pray it will truly be a gift for your weary soul. We do understand and hope the day will soon come when things will improve with your son. Leave him in God’s hands to do what you cannot and now focus on yourself – especially on your soul. May God uplift you and heal every wound. He is able! And I hope you will sign up for my daily email subscription – you can choose how often you want to receive them (1, 3 or 5 days a week).

      “I will restore to you the years that the locust have eaten . . .” (Joel 2:25). Nothing is too hard for him.

  3. Cheryl

    Thanks for this. I was using jars to “ cast my cares” but then stopped. This Christmas with all 4 children together again, there was a good deal I saw but know I have to pray and maybe not say anything. I think I may have to have a box for each adult child , maybe my husband as well, and the Christmas wish list. I also read your post on the wish list and that was good for me to not only pray but an opportunity came for me to Speak life from that list. Thank you for what you are doing, it helps me keep my eyes on Jesus and not the problems.

    • Tom and Dena Yohe

      Cheryl, thank you for your comment. It’s hard not to bring up things we see that concern us, but choose to pray instead – you are a wise mom. There are many strategies that can help us cope with our struggles as parents – I hope a God box will help you some – yes, maybe one for each loved one – and I’m glad you liked the idea of a Christmas wish list. How wonderful that you had an opportunity to speak life-giving words from it. Awesome! Thank you for your encouraging words to us – we love hearing that we’re helping you keep your eyes on Jesus, instead of the problem. We all need help doing that!!