I was startled awake out of a deep sleep last night by a storm full of thunder and lightning. As I laid there trying to get back to sleep between bolts of thunder and flashes of lightning I realized that what I was feeling was a lot like we feel as parents of children who have problems with drugs & alcohol, self harm, mental illness, an eating disorder, suicidal thoughts, same sex identity issues, are in trouble with the law, etc. We are often caught by surprise and it really shakes us up. I laid there waiting for the storm to subside and just as I thought the thunder rumblings were lessening and I began to relax . . . BOOM . . . there came another loud crash of thunder! I almost jumped out of the bed I was so startled! It took a while to calm down and get my heart to stop racing! And this kept happening. I was awake for a long time.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not afraid of storms. It was the suddeness and the loudness of the thunder when I was sound asleep. It was so unexpected! I was surprised at how much it shook me up! Again, this is so much like what we experience as parents in the situations I mentioned above. When we let our guard down and begin to relax hoping they are making progress, that this time they really do want to change, that they are done with drinking and using, that they won’t cut anymore , that they want a new life, that their mental illness is under control.
Then we find out we were wrong . . . another relapse; arrested again; more bloody cuts on their body; meds aren’t working or they quite taking them; we find a suicide note or journal writings that reveal they are in trouble again . . . it can really shake us up. We feel like we’ve had the wind knocked out of us. Our blood pressure rises, our pulse quickens, we breathe faster, our palms sweat, we can’t sleep or we sleep too much, we can’t eat or we eat too much. We feel like we can’t breathe. Dare we let ourselves relax again? Can we ever really rest or is this just a lull before the next thunder clasp startles us into the reality that it’s still not over ?
I deal with the storms my child brings into my life by reminding myself that I am not alone. God is with me. He cares more than I can imagine . . . about me and about my child. He can help me overcome my anxieties and fears. He can give me peace in the midst of life’s most violent storms. They may startle me and knock me off balance. I may be shaking in my shoes, shivering under the covers like I did as a child, but when I reach out to God for help, He will come and I know I will be ok . . . even if my child is never ok. (as horrible as that would be) I can learn to be ok and walk in peace not based on what is happening with them. The thunder may keep crashing, the lightning flashing, but I will not be shaken. I know I am held in His strong, loving arms. What about you?
A Bible verse I really like 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 . . .” and also from Psalm 75:3, “When the earth and all its people quake, it is I (God) who holds its pillars firm.”