Parents of Prodigals Look for Purpose

by | Feb 15, 2021 | what you can do

photo cred. Zane Carter on Unsplash

These are highlights from one of our support group meetings. At the time, we were going through the book, Parents with Broken Hearts by Bill Coleman (on the book list on our website). These is from chapter 19, “Looking for Purpose.”

“We want to make sense out of life; to find some way to turn our loss into a gain. The gain may be for others rather than for ourselves, and although the gain will never erase or justify the loss, the hope is that the disaster will not be a total waste.

Letting go of “Why?”

We seek answers to the why question in 3 areas:

  • Why did our child do what they did?
  • Why didn’t we do enough to prevent this?
  • Why didn’t God intervene?

Give up the need to know why.
Why is useless to ask. It’s not helpful in finding purpose. The answer to the questions may never be found. No amount of soul searching will correct the past or change anything. The only appropriate question to ask is “What now?”

Searching for Purpose

The mistake many of us make is looking for purpose in the tragedy itself.

Real meaning is found only in our response to tragedy.

Purpose can be found in the suffering that comes through our children; in how we handle those events.

In the Bible, Romans 8:28 says And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him…  This does not assure us that all things that happen to us are good. Some things are lousy, bad, and terrible. But God is willing to work those events into something that will be good.

He wants to draw gain out of pain. If we cooperate…we turn the terrible situation into something that has purpose and meaning.

On the other hand, if we throw up our hands and curse the suffering, we intensify the loss.

We will not ask God to help us rejoice in the bad…rather, we ask God to help us look for ways to turn the tragedy into some valuable meaning in the future.

Loss has meaning if we reach out to touch others, if we permit ourselves the strength to grow, or if we find new ways to express love, faith, and caring.

Moving On To Purpose

Not everyone is ready for this message. Some remain fixed on the loss for a long time. Those parents continue to drown in their misery because they aren’t ready to move on.

Moving on to purpose demands a conscious decision. No one is capable of removing our grief if we fixate on the loss.

Each of us must decide when it is time to move on.

The message isn’t, “Forget your child and get on with life.”

The better message is, “Accept the pain for what it is and rise up to make something good happen”.

Not all parents will write a book, be a public speaker, or start a non-profit.

Purpose might be found in the new way they treat their other children. Meaning could be expressed in their relationship with the grandchildren. The good could be realized in the parents’ renewed love for each other.

Willingness and awareness are the key attitudes.

We must not permit pain to drive us into retreat.

We must determine by God’s grace to turn our energies around and lead the charge back to life.

photo cred. Quino Al on Unsplash

None of us should be surprised, however, if it takes a while before we can turn our loss into meaning. A transformation like this takes time. Accepting our losses is a gradual process.

Only as healing takes place will we be able to identify the good we might create.

With the healing will come new energy and new direction, and we will feel far more like pursuing them.”

What step would you like to take today to move you toward healing?