Are you a weary parent? Are you drained? Depleted? Worn out from dealing with your child’s problems with alcohol and drugs, eating disorders and all forms of self harm like cutting and burning, pornography, their sexual identity. Are they in and out of jail? We all lack the same thing. We keep saying “yes” when we want to say “no” to our their requests for help . . . more money, more of this and more of that. Why do we do this? Why do we keep denying our feelings? Why aren’t we honest? Why do we continue to give in when inside we want to stand firm? What happened to our healthy boundaries?
What do we lack? COURAGE. Been there. Done that. How about you? We are just like Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz. Remember him? He was afraid of everything. He had no courage, no “verve”. If only we could go along with Dorothy on the yellow brick road to see the wonderful, powerful Wizard of Oz. Maybe he could dig down deep into his big, black, velvet bag and find a medal of bravery that would give us the courage we are lacking. But wait! I have found another source. A much better one.
The words of the Serenity Prayer remind us of this Source when it speaks of our need of courage.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can . . .”
There it is. God is the source. I need to ask him for the courage I lack. For the courage to change what I can. I sure can’t change my child, can I? I can only change me. And boy is that hard. I’ve tried to change myself and found that I can’t do it very well on my own. It’s hard to start a new habit: Exercising. Eating healthier. Getting up earlier. Going to bed earlier. Watching less TV. Reading more. Spending less time on the computer. Spending more time with friends. Going to church. Sticking to a budget, etc. It’s even harder to stop a bad habit. It’s pretty tough to do any of this in your own strength.
Oh God, we need your help. Show us how to say “no” when we need to. Help us accept that it won’t be easy. It will be downright scary at times. We worry about what might happen if we don’t say “yes”. Things might get worse. Our child will experience pain. It will probably evoke a negative response from them, maybe a loud and unpleasant one. Make us strong and courageous. Help us overcome our fear. Help us develop tough skin so we can withstand any adverse reaction, yet still be able to say ”no” when we must. Reveal to us why we have this need to please people. Why we are so fearful. Make us willing to face the deeper issues that we have within ourselves. We don’t want to keep offering ourselves as doormats any longer. We want to be strong so we can say “yes” to a healthier life and “no” when it is truly the more loving thing to do – both for our child and for us!
Here are a few Bible verses that help me when I feel weak and cowardly, needing a dose of courage.
“I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
(Ps. 121: 1-2)
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged,
For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”