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She said “NO.” But you didn’t listen. water of life

You selfish, egotistical punk.

You took advantage of an intoxicated girl.

Like a lion in wait for its prey.

Evil personified, a ravenous beast.

I HATE YOU. I HATE YOU. I HATE YOU.

 She couldn’t fight you off.

Couldn’t get away

 You overpowered her weakness,

Took what you wanted, used her up,

Then threw her away.

You thief, you predator.

Destroyer of life.

You’re a MURDERER.

A helpless victim

When you ravaged her body, you killed her soul.

Your treachery stole her from those who loved her most.

She was never the same again.

WHERE DID MY DAUGHTER GO?

Invisible wounds –unseen to naked eyes.

“Damaged goods”, she believed the lie

Said to herself, “Who will want me now?”

I wanted you to suffer

Agony like you caused her.

What if you were raped, you vile fiend?

SEE HOW YOU LIKE THAT.

And yet, it would never be enough,

Never satisfy, because the truth is —

I wanted you to DIE.

Wouldn’t that make it better — your death, a just reward?

I dreamed it night after night. My private agony.

The raping of my soul.

Then I realized

I HAVE TO LET THIS GO. I HAVE TO LET THIS GO.

This need for you to hurt and bleed

But how?

There would be no justice. None in this world.

No, not here, but definitely there – in heaven it would come.

Christ’s example showed the way.

I would follow His lead.

It didn’t come easy. It was a lot of hard work,

But today I can finally say,

I FORGIVE.

I. FORGIVE. YOU.

For the sake of my own soul.

For my heart’s release.

Now my comfort is this — on the Day when Christ returns — or when you leave this world —

YOU’LL GET WHAT YOU DESERVE. YOU’LL GET WHAT YOU DESERVE.

God in heaven will decree it. And we will finally see it.

And I– I will be at rest with that.

I’ll live in peace until that day

When He who sees all things will make them right,

In His time and in His way.

But now, O Lord, ’til that Day comes, please heal her heart and mine.

Convince her she’s still pure and holy – perfect in Your eyes.

That you’ve never loved her more

Than you do right now tonight.

AND SO DO I. AND SO DO I.

***From the mother of a rape victim.

These Bible verses really helped me:

  • “Forgive as the Lord forgave you”  Colossians 3:13.
  • “. . . He does not leave the guilty unpunished”  Exodus 34: 7.
  • “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”  1 Corinthians 15:57.

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Acceptance.  Hmmmmmm . . . . What does it look like to work through painful losses with your son or daughter?  When your child has a problem with drugs or alcohol, pornography, an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia, cutting or some other form of self harm, suicidal thoughts (or has made attempts), depression, bipolar or some other mental health issue, same sex identity struggles, has been raped or abused in some way you are thrown into a world of grief and loss.  You are suddenly on a journey through all the stages and phases of grief that are the same as though they had died.  In some ways worse because it often includes the element of rejection.  When my daughter moved out because of her need for alcohol and drugs it crusehd me.  It felt as though she had died and some days I wished I had died.  The pain was so deep I didn’t think I could bear it.  It would have been easier.  I was then on a journey toward my ultimate goal of A C C E P T A N C E.

It’s messy.  You’ve never done this before.  You don’t know how to do it.  No one else can do this for you and it won’t be pretty.  It can be up and down.  Back and forth.  A process of three steps forward, two steps backward.  Many of you are familiar with the phases of grief – shock, denial, bargaining, anger, depression/sadness and then finally, acceptance.  It is a process that takes time.  We can’t hurry it up.  We must experience it in our own way and our own pace.  If we ignore it and sweep our emotions under the rug they will fester.  It will only get worse and come out in other ways.  It can even make us sick.

I would like to make a suggestion.  Don’t try and do this alone.  Alone is not good.  Alone is so isolating.  Alone is so much harder.  There are several things you could do:

1)  Talk to a counselor, your pastor or a trusted friend who won’t look down on you as you process your feelings.

2) If you like to write, keep a journal as you go through this time. It can be very healing.

3)  Join a support group.  I’d like to say a little more about this below.

There are many parents out there who understand you and are going through the same thing!  You are NOT alone!  Really!   It is so comforting to get together and discover it’s not just you who is having these problems!  We are all so embarassed that we don’t say a word to anyone and suffer unnecessarily in solitude.  We can help each other so much!  So go find a support group to be part of or start one yourself!  (If you think you might want to start one but need help and ideas, my husband and I can help you or your church get one started for your community!)  We are hoping to see thousands get started all over the country because there is such a huge need and not a lot of support out there.  Send me a message with your email and we will contact with you.  Al-Anon or Nar-Anon have great support groups, even if you aren’t dealing with a substance problem!  The same principles apply to any situation.  There are other Christian groups with 12 step recovery programs, too, like Celebrate Recovery.  You can google “parent support” groups and see what is in your area.

May God direct you to the help you need as you process your grief and move towards acceptance.  There is such peace there waiting for you!  If I found it, you can too.

This Bible verse encourages me so much, “By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me —  a prayer to the God of my life.”  (Psalms 42:8)

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As the mom or dad of a son or daughter who struggles with an addiction, depression or some other mental health issue, cutting, an eating disorder, is in trouble with the law, same sex identity issue, or any other self-destructive behavior  you know how hard it is to let go.  Letting go is one of the things that will help us keep our sanity yet one of the most difficult to actually do!  I’ve been thinking a lot about this since my last blog when I talked about learning to live with an unsolved problem.

Letting go — loosening your grip, relaxing your hold, releasing control.   Sometimes it helps to understand  something when you have a better understanding of what it’s not.  So, what is the opposite of letting go?  It’s tightening your grip until your knuckles are white; its holding on with a death-grip and clenched fists; it’s being controlling and overly involved because you have to have something.   Think of a child who won’t let go of a toy.  Been there?  It can also be enabling – being too helpful, doing for someone something they can and should do for themselves.  If you are doing these things I have two words for you, STOP IT!  Step back, take a deep breath and RELEASE!

This doesn’t mean we don’t care and it’s not being unloving.   We will always be there for our son or daughter and will do everything in our power to help them when they are ready to change.  Notice the key words in bold print!  Of course it’s hard to know if they are, and at times we may be fooled and taken advantage of.  Sometimes you just have to give them a chance and see what happens.   If they weren’t being honest, hopefully we’ll learn from our mistake and make a better decision the next time we have the opportunity.

I think the difficulty in letting go is tied in with our fear.  It has been for me.  I was so afraid for  my daughter that I couldn’t bear the thought of letting her go.  I  didn’t know how to let her go!  If  I did, what might happen?   I loved her so much . . . how do you let go of all of that fear and worry for this child you would give your very life for?

For me, learning to let go has happened in incremental baby steps (a phrase I’ve borrowed from the movie What About Bob? with Bill Murray.  (If you need a good laugh it’s a riot!)  It has been a slow process of giving her over to the care of God, my  Higher Power, and allowing Him to work in her life as He sees best.   Because I believe that He is loving and good,  I am confident that He loves her even more than I do.  This gives me great peace and comfort.  Although I do know it is not a guarantee that things will turn out like I want them to — it doesn’t mean bad things won’t ever happen.  They have happened.  All the things I tried to protect her from did happen.  But I have learned to let her go and to let go of what it was doing to me.  Now I can let go of fear, of worry, of sleepless nights, of trying to fix, of rescuing, of protecting from painful consequences.  Those consequences may be exactly what is needed to bring about a desire for change!

Letting go is one of the most loving things you can do — for yourself and for your child!  Renee, my daughter, even wrote a song about letting go!  Maybe you will hear her sing it when her CD comes out, hopefully by the end of the summer!

Here are a few bible verses that help me when I am struggling to let go:

“Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”  (Psalm 27:13-14 NIV)

“Casting the whole of your care (all your anxieties and all your concerns, once and for all) on Him, for He cares for you.”  (I Peter 5:7 Amplified)

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Runner at Heartbreak HillOver the last 11 years I have found that this journey of being the parent of a troubled child  is much like running a race, but this race is not a sprint, it’s a marathon!  I don’t know about you, but I am running to not only finish, but to win the prize!  My goal is to not give up or quit on the way, but to keep my faith to the end, in spite of my daughter’s trials with alcohol, drugs, self-injury, depression, sexual assaults and suicide attempts.

Sometimes I feel like I am hitting the “wall” in this marathon.  I want to quit, stop running and just  rest!  No more pain!I understand that when you run a marathon you have to prepare yourself for hitting this “wall”.  This tends to happen around the 20th mile, when you feel like you are “done”.  You think you can’t go any further. . . . not another step. You’ve got nothing left.  All your reserves are depleted.  Your chest is burning, your muscles are searing with pain and you feel like they will surely give out.

In the Boston Marathon this point is called “Heartbreak Hill”. The last 6 miles are a series of hills that steadily climb higher and higher.  To go on and finish the race looks impossible.  At this point you can’t look too far ahead, it’s too hard.  You’ll never make it.  You have to fix your eyes on the next step, and the next and the next.  With this strategy you can make it! And in this marathon crossing the finish line with your faith intact is winning!!!

What about you?  Have you reached your “wall”?  Have you reached Heartbreak Hill?

Don’t grow weary or lose heart!  When all looks bleak and you feel you can’t go on another step, remember, our hope is in God!  Keep taking One Day at a Time, One Moment at a Time.  Keep your eyes firmly fixed on the One who conquered Heartbreak Hill.  With Him you can conquer yours!

“”Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith,
who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame;
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

(Heb 12:2-3)

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Flowers growing out of the ashes of Mt. St. Helens

My life felt like ashes, ashes.  I wondered if I could ever laugh or smile again.  The ashes for me came from my experiences as the mom of a former prodigal daughter, Renee (now 23).

Renee kept me on my knees much of her young life as a stubborn, strong-willed child.  Even as a toddler there were many moments I found myself on my knees by my bed crying and praying desperately for wisdom and strength.  Many times I told the Lord He’d made a mistake – I wasn’t smart enough, strong enough or wise enough to know how to parent her!

Don’t get me wrong, there were many wonderful times and most of her childhood she appeared to be very happy.  Out of our three children, having genuinely received Christ when she was 4, she was the one who had the greatest spiritual depth and insight at a young age.   However, puberty brought a great sense of angst, an identity crisis and an irresistible desire to rebel.  Today Renee says she always knew “I was going to have to learn things the hard way and sometimes I would even cry over that”.  I was completely clueless about the storm that was brewing.

THE ASHES

A glimmer of the nightmare ahead began when she was just 12 and cut herself for the first time.  She was upset about something we’d discovered that she had done, knowing she would be disciplined for.  She said the idea literally came to her out of nowhere. She’d never heard of it before and knew of no one who did this to themselves. She struggled secretly with extreme self-condemnation, feeling she had to be perfect. Unknown to us, she had also been plagued with a sense of evil and darkness all around her for years.  We now know it was a combination of depression and spiritual battle.  She thought this was “normal” so she kept it all to herself.  Even today, this still causes me pain.

Renee has suffered the ravages of alcoholism, drug addiction, self-harm (cutting), rape, suicide attempts, hospitalizations in the psych ward, several near overdoses, and several stays in residential rehab programs.  She has also been diagnosed with depression, bi-polar, an anxiety disorder and an obsessive compulsive disorder.

All of this is quite depressing to hear, I realize. I share these things to give you an idea of what God has brought me through. Things I never, ever dreamed or imagined could happen to our family.  Not my little girl!  How could it be possible?  The pain so deep, so immobilizing and crushing.  My children had been my ministry, my mission, my focus.  I had given her my whole self.   I had done my very best to be the most godly, Spirit-filled mom I could be.  To love her unconditionally, without reservation, to teach her God’s Word and model living a purposeful, meaningful life for Christ, with great passion and enthusiasm.  So how could this happen?

I was full of so much guilt and self-blame.  What did I do wrong?  What should I have done differently?  How could God let this happen to my child?  I don’t understand!  I wanted to crawl in a hole and hide from the world.  I just wanted it all to go away, to have my sweet little girl back!

My journey as the mom of a child with these severe problems was typical of a person coping with severe loss, like a death.  For this was indeed a death of sorts, the death of my hopes and dreams for my child.  Much of what I experienced felt worse than if she had died, since it included rejection (when she left home at 18, 6 weeks before high school graduation, to pursue her destructive lifestyle) and my worst nightmares coming true.  It was a living death for me that I thought I would never, ever recover from.  I certainly felt like I aged rapidly during some of these episodes.   Shock, embarrassment, shame, anger, resentment, fear, denial, grief and bargaining with God were my constant companions. What good could come of this?   

BEAUTY FROM ASHES

So, how has God brought beauty out of these ashes?  In ways I never dreamed possible. “I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places.”  (Isaiah 45:3)  I would never have sought these treasures, but I am far richer today than before this trial began.  I have made many discoveries – about myself, about God, my relationship with Him and all my significant relationships.  This terrible experience brought me many gifts.  Author Sharon Hersch says (in her book, The Last Addiction), “I discovered the gifts of addiction.” So have I.  God’s gifts often come to us wrapped in mysterious ways.   Here are just a few that I have been given:

1 ) I have come to know my Creator on a much deeper and more intimate level than I knew was possible.  Pressing in closer for survival brought a greater sweetness to our fellowship.  I was amazed at the nearness of His presence through many sleepless nights and pain-filled days of uncertainty.  Sometimes His nearness was almost palpable.  While at other times He felt far away. I had to walk by faith and not by sight.  Often numb, He had to be enough, even if no other prayer I prayed was ever answered again.  Could I be content and rest in Him even if my prodigal never came home?

2) Scripture became even more valuable and precious. Knowing I couldn’t make it without strength from God forced me to spend much time in the Scriptures until I received what I needed.  I was constantly amazed at how God would give just the right thing each day! Some days I read a few verses before I would come upon “bread” for my soul.  During these years I discovered many “golden nuggets” that will always be precious to me for how they met my needs and gave me such hope – the Holy Spirit assisted me in “mining” them out of the deep, dark caverns of my affliction.  Here are a three of my favorites:

Isaiah 55:8-13  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways, declares the Lord….. my word that goes out from my mouth:  It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.  You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace…..instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.  This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed.”

2 Timothy 2:25b-26  “…in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do is will.”

Isaiah 45:3  “I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places.”

3) I experienced greater spiritual and personal growth. I am the kind of person who does not like conflict. I previously avoided it, but I learned to face it. Instead of run from it I am now able to be more honest about my feelings (though, I won’t fool you, it is still hard!).  I realized I was a rather fearful person.  Going through this trial I learned to face my worst fears, to accept unthinkable possible outcomes and find peace with an unknown future.  My prayer life deepened and I learned to pray more effectively. In short, I grew a lot.

4) I’ve grown closer to my husband and other children. Today we have a richer, deeper appreciation for each other and are able to discuss hard things a little more easily.  When you share so much heartache and pain together it can bring you much closer or it can tear you apart.  So, my husband and I chose to protect our relationship and make it a priority, being careful not to neglect it.  During one of our most difficult times he surprised me by whisking me away on a 3 day cruise, to celebrate our anniversary! We also put out extra effort to be sure our other children were not neglected and knew how loved they are.

In my next blog I will share 4 more “gifts” I feel I was given from being the mom of a self-destructive daughter.

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