“My children are so damaged from living in a home of conflict and then one year of an ugly divorce. How can I trust God to be a protector and a shield about me? One of my daughters has been sexually assaulted while making terrible choices. One is at a Christian college and loves God, but is frequently overcome by anxiety. She is the one who refuses to have contact with her father. The youngest lives with me, and she’s not sure if she believes in God or Jesus. She doesn’t think being a Christian makes a difference. One of my biggest reasons for staying married was for the protection of my children. I wanted them to see that love and faithfulness wins. I sang hymns over them and loved them the best I knew how. I sincerely believed God would come through and work a miracle for our family. Instead, I watched in slow motion as this train wreck of a marriage rolled over the people I loved most.”
“I didn’t keep my children safe from abuse. I had to move them out of the home they loved. I acted completely out of control at times. They had a front row seat for abuse, and then they got to experience their dad’s verbal abuse personally. Of course, they normalize that. I so love my children. If I had any inkling that I would be bringing them up in the home they were brought up in I would have remained single for life.”
“Two of my older kids won’t speak to me anymore. The pain is blinding sometimes. How do I deal with this?”
This is a very tender subject, isn’t it? As a mother, I know that if anyone wants to touch me where it hurts most, it is in this area of my children. My most fervent hopes, dreams, and prayers have circled around my children.
I believe so much damage has been done because of religious lies. Read the above quotes again. Can you spot the lies these women were told?
- God will never let anything bad happen to you if He loves you.
- Your kids can make horrible choices and never suffer the consequences of those choices.
- If you are a Christian who loves God, you won’t ever struggle with anxiety or depression or other mental health issues.
- If you love God and do everything right, your kids will also love God and do everything right.
- If you do everything right, God will do miracles for you.
- If you do everything right, your children will never experience abuse.
- You should be perfect and respond perfectly to abuse.
- You should know everything about the future and make perfect choices based on your foreknowledge.
- You can’t have a joyful, fulfilling life unless you have the love and support of your children.
- If your husband and children don’t rise up and call you “blessed,” you failed. You failed them, and you failed God.
All lies. But lies we’ve been steeped in for decades, right? It’s hard to rewire stories we’ve been told for so long, but that’s exactly what we need to do in order to make sense of our mess and find peace.
Here’s the truth:
- Bad things happen to everyone alive, and everyone who is alive right now will be dead within 100 years. Even if someone gets a “miracle cure,” it will only last until it doesn’t, and they, too, will get sick again and die. Or they will die in an accident.
- Our kids are not extensions of us. They are their own individual selves, and they get the same opportunities to make their way in this world that we did. Not all of them will make their way well. They have their own journey that is separate from ours.
- God loves our children as much as He loves us, and God knows and loves them better than we ever could or will.
- Many, many human beings who are putting their hope in God struggle with depression and anxiety for different reasons. We live in a broken world, and we are a broken people. Jesus loves us in the middle of that.
- Many faithful people have children who are unfaithful. Even children who grow up in loving homes free of abuse make rotten choices for their lives sometimes.
- Almost every human alive will experience some kind of abuse at some point in their lives. Your children aren’t exempt.
- Nobody is perfect, and nobody responds well to abuse. Nobody.
- You aren’t God, and you don’t know the future, and you never will. You will make mistakes because you are human.
- Your joy depends on two things – your faith in a God who loves you and your ability to accept yourself and take care of yourself just the way you are. It doesn’t depend on anyone or anything else.
- Abusive husbands and children will never rise up and call anyone blessed. So if that’s what you’ve got, kiss that dream good-bye. It has nothing to do with you. God calls you blessed in Christ, and you can take that to the bank and LIVE.
Now let’s talk about the grief of watching our children suffer because of abuse. It hurts. It’s one of the most excruciating experiences anyone can go through in life, so if you are hurting and angry and exhausted and full of deep sorrow, you are normal. And you are not alone.
Below is an excellent video that depicts a young man digging and digging in hopes of pleasing his father. But he discovered that what pleased his father most was for him to LIVE and LOVE LIVING TO THE FULLEST.
This applies to your children, too. I used to pray my kids would do great things for God. Now I pray they know His great love for them.
Just like I had to break away from digging, I also had to break away from begging and begging in fear and anguish for God to take care of my kids. Do I still do that? Yes, but I do it less and less. More and more when I pray for them, I am simply committing them to Him and trusting Him to love them to Himself. Trusting the blood of Jesus to be enough for them as I have put my hope in that it’s enough for me.
Instead of showing them how to dig by modeling what being a “good digger” is like, I’m trying to show them what it means to jump off docks into beautiful rivers and bask in the love and faithfulness of God.
A while ago I had a conversation with one of my older kids about church. This child doesn’t go anymore, and I refuse to force him to go. I don’t go either, most of the time. But I told him about my relationship with Jesus – how it is more real and vibrant than ever. How I believe it is okay to take a break from church. How going to church is NOT the sign of a Jesus-lover. There are so many folks who would never miss church who don’t love Jesus like that. I told him I just wanted him to know how much Jesus loved him, and that when I was gone, if there was one thing I wanted him to remember about me, it was that I loved my children and wanted them to revel in God’s love for them.
I told him it didn’t matter if he went to a Christian or secular college, Jesus loved him and would be with him every step of the way.
I told him it didn’t matter if he got married or stayed single. Jesus loved him and would be with him every step of the way.
I told him it didn’t matter if he failed miserably or was a success. Jesus loved him and would be with him every step of the way.
I told him I believed even though he might not be sure about God, God was sure about him, and God was powerful enough to keep him through all the doubt and fear.
I noticed his step was a bit lighter when we got home. I planted seed of hope. I believe God will do something with that.
Life is made up of lows and highs. Failure and success. Death and life. Sickness and healing. Despair and hope. Abuse and recovery. Weakness and strength. Loss and victory. It is this way for every creature that lives and moves and breathes here. It is for you. And it is for your children. So don’t be surprised when it rains. And don’t be surprised when the sun comes out. That’s life.
What is our responsibility in the midst of all this? It is simply to love. To love our Creator and to love and nurture what He has created. We do it in the darkness. We do it in the light. But we do it.
The hope I’ve had since I first found out I was pregnant for the first time was that one day I would stand before Jesus holding the hands of my kids, and we would be laughing and free before Him. I don’t know how to get there. I can’t make it happen.
But He does. And He can.
And I’m putting all my eggs in His basket.
- Make a list of the things you cannot control when it comes to the lives of your children. Example: “I cannot control what happens when they are with their dad.” “I cannot make my oldest son understand and come back to be in relationship with me.”
- Make a list of the things you CAN control. Example: “When they come home from their dad’s house, I can listen and empathize with their experiences. I can validate them.” “I can pray for my oldest son and trust that God is working in his heart, and it will take time. Perhaps many years of time.”
- When your anxious thoughts turn to your children and your fears and sorrows over them, pray out loud, “Jesus, I have no power, but You do. I commit this child to You. When I think of Your love for people when you lived here, I am comforted that You will love my child that way. Keep my child in Your love. I don’t trust my child, but I will trust You.” And then move forward having committed them to the only One Who can save to the uttermost.
This is one of the 120 lessons in the Flying Free Education and Support group curriculum. If you are interested in learning and growing through lessons like this, hop over HERE for more information.