We live in Orlando. We experienced hurricane Ian this week. Thankfully, we had minimal damage. The worst has passed us now. After going through a previous hurricane I noticed a few parallels between parenting troubled kids and storms.
In parenting, we sometimes encounter challenges that are a lot like fierce storms. Some come upon us suddenly, without warning. Others give us indicators something dangerous is headed our way like with a hurricane. They bring fear, anxiety, and destruction. In our parenting storms, there’s nothing we can do to keep the bad away, or lessen the potential damage. With hurricanes we know there may be a lot of pain and destruction ahead. We brace ourselves for what may come.
When I listened to the weather channel I grew more anxious and uneasy. We did the best we could to prepare, then all we could do was pray and wait. I saw a meme that described this perfectly: “Waiting for a hurricane is a lot like waiting for a turtle to cross the road.” Eventually, the sky became dark and foreboding. Trees bent and swayed in the fierce winds; some uprooted, toppling over on homes, cars and roads. Debris littered neighborhoods. Then late in the night the flooding began causing more stress and anxiety.
Don’t Be Like Pebbles
Our son had an adorable little dog, a Yorkshire terrier. Pebbles was her name. She’s in doggie heaven now, but she was always petrified of storms, especially hurricanes. She would pant hard and shake all over while running around in a state of panic. Finally, she would find a corner to hide in until the weather calmed down.
Poor Pebbles. She didn’t understand the storm would pass; in time, everything would be okay again. She couldn’t grasp that her loving owners were with her and would keep her safe. Let’s not be like Pebbles.
The hurricane in my life came in the form of my daughter’s troubles: drug and alcohol addiction, stints in rehab, relapses, mental illness, self-injury (cutting), hospitalizations, psych wards, suicide attempts and incidences of rape. These terrifying experiences filled me with panic and a desire to hide, like Pebbles. But for me (and all of us), there was no guarantee my daughter would be okay—ever.
In my storm, I hid from others and withdrew. Emotionally bent over from the constant grief and worry, I thought I would break from the strain. A nervous wreck, I suffered deep distress.
Life is full of storms. We can’t make them go away. But I learned four key truths that helped me cope, survive, and even thrive again. I suggest we learn them well, then we won’t become an emotional wreck.
4 Key Truths
- Draw close to God.
- Focus on Him.
- Trust Him.
- Rely on His Word, the Bible.
Fifteen years ago, when I read the Bible one morning, I discovered Isaiah 43:1-5. These verses helped me focus on these four truths. They soothed my soul then and I still turn to them today, whenever I face another storm. They summarize the core of where my strength and peace come from.
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine (If we belong to God, He will help us and take care of us.)
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; (God will be with us, no matter what kind of storm we face.)
And when you pass through the rivers (life-shaking events), they will not sweep over you. (We will not be overcome.)
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. (We will survive, though we may have to walk “through” tough times.)
For I Am the Lord, your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior . . . (Remember Who is our Helper: the God of the universe; the creator and sustainer of all life.)
Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you . . . (Because we are deeply, perfectly loved, we can rest in God. He’s got us.)
Don’t be afraid, for I Am with you. (There’s no need to fear life’s storms. We are never, ever alone. God Almighty is with us always and forever.)
(Isaiah 43:1-5, NIV)
If you are in the middle of a parenting storm please stay focused on God and draw near. He offers comfort and encouragement to all who look to Him.
When You Love a Prodigal: 90 Days of Grace for the Wilderness by Judy Douglass
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