Startled awake out of a deep sleep by a fierce storm, I couldn’t get back to sleep. Between crashes of thunder and flashes of lightning, I realized something. What I experienced that night closely resembled what parents go through whose children struggle with a wide range of troubles. I know about this because it’s part of my own story as the mother of a troubled daughter for over 10 years. We need to know what truths can help us when we face life’s storms. I have 6 truths for you that helped me.
Our children have significant challenges like: drugs and alcohol, self harm, mental illness, eating disorders, suicidal thoughts, gender identity issues, repeated incarceration, estrangement, and more. As their parents, we were caught by surprise when their problems began. We were shaken. Stunned. That night, as I waited for the storm to subside, when I began to relax … BOOM … another crash of thunder. Started, I almost jumped out of bed. With my heart racing, it took a while to calm down again. This unsettling pattern kept me on edge for a long time.
I am not usually afraid of storms. What shook me was the unexpected nature of what happened. Sound familiar? Does this remind you of your experience with your troubled son or daughter? The element of surprise takes a toll on us. When we let our guard down and begin to hope our child is ready for change, then a set back occurs, the shock impacts us like a violent storm in the middle of the night. We were certain we could relax. The storm was over. They were done with drinking and using. They wouldn’t cut themselves anymore. They’d make better choices now. They wanted a new life. Their mental illness was under control … but then, to our dismay …
We found out we were wrong: another relapse; another arrest or prison sentence; more bloody cuts in their flesh; their meds stopped working or they quit taking them. We thought all was well but we found a suicide note or journal writings that revealed a troubled heart and mind. These situations jolt us out of a state of peacefulness. Our heart and mind is troubled too. We feel like someone punched us in the stomach knocking the wind out of us. Our blood pressure rises and our pulse quickens. We heart beats faster, our palms sweat, we can’t sleep or we sleep too much, we can’t eat or we eat too much. We take shallow breaths and sometimes we even hold our breath.
How do we keep going? Can’t we get a break?
Dare we let ourselves relax during the calm times, when we think the storm in our child’s life has passed and they’ve taken a turn for the better? Can we ever truly rest and stop worrying, or is this merely another lull before the next thunder clasp startles us into reality that it’s still not over?
6 Truths that Help in My Storms
The thunder may keep crashing and the lightning flash from my child’s troubles, but I am no longer shaken like I once was. But I’m human. Unexpected circumstances may startle me and knock me off balance. I may shake in my shoes and shiver under the covers in a future storm, but when I reach out to God for help, I trust He will come. He has proven his faithfulness to me in the past. Therefore, I’m confident He will be faithful in the future. I know I will be held in His strong, loving arms.
What helps me have confidence in my parenting storms? Reminding myself of six truths. During my most painful time with my daughter, I wrote them on an index card and taped it to my bathroom mirror. Seeing it everyday helped me focus on what was true and God has never let me down:
6 Truths that Help in My Storms (any storm, not just with my child)
- I am not alone. God is with me. He is faithful forever. (Psalm 23:4)
- God cares about me more than I can imagine — and about my child. (1 Peter 5:7)
- God will help me overcome my anxieties and fears. (Isaiah 41:10)
- God will give me peace in the midst of every storm. (John 14:27; Ephesians 2:14)
- I will be okay, even if my child never is (as horrible as that would be). (Revelation 7:17)
- God will show me how to cope and thrive again, no matter what happens. (Psalm 89:15-17b; 30:5b)
Help from the Bible
A Bible verse that has helped me countless times in my life is from Psalm 23:
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and your staff they comfort me …”
Another verse is from Psalm 75:3, “When the earth and all its people quake, it is I (God) who holds its pillars firm.”
Dear friend, God will always be with you. He will hold you up when you’re shaken by life’s circumstances. He will be faithful to you today, tomorrow, and forever. Amen.