Hi friend, this post is part of my series: parenting a hurting child. I pray that you will be blessed. Check out the other posts in the series and be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss any updates.
It’s at the bottom of the deepest valley where you find yourself with two choices… look up and let God hold you, cling to him with everything that you have… or walk away, cursing His very name.
I have to choose daily which one to go with and so do my kids. Just because they are younger doesn’t change this fact. Actually, ignoring it may quite possibly be the catalyst for becoming a statistic. You know what I’m talking about. Those quotes that make parents cringe. Like say… “78% of all people in prison were raised by single moms.” You can fill in the blank with a statistic from your own situation. Regardless of the circumstance, words like these breathe despair into our circumstances.
But the truth is, our children do not have to become statistics. In Christ, we have victory. This trial, these circumstances…they have already been overcome. (John 16:33) If we can help our kids find Jesus in the mess, we give them the ability to claim this victory in their lives.
How do we help them find God in the pain?
Tell them who God is…
Make sure your children know who God is. Show them the scripture and post it in prominent places. When despair creeps in, these verses should be the first to come out. We have no promises if God isn’t who He said He is. Be careful not to use words like maybe or might when you refer to God’s character. If the Bible says it- it’s true. There is no maybe about it. Maybe causes doubt and confusion. For example, God is our healer. He might not heal a particular sickness, but he is STILL the healer. The maybe or might has nothing to do with who God is. The Bible is full of scripture that defines God. Here are just a few to get you started.
- He is a father to the fatherless…Psalm 68:5
- For your Creator will be your husband; the LORD of Heaven’s Armies is his name ! He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the God of all the earth. Isaiah 54:5
- He is our healer. Exodus 15:26
- And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
- He is the sovereign Savior. Psalm 68:20
- He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords…which makes us his princesses/princes. Rev. 17:14
- God is more powerful than evil. 1 John 4:4
Involve them in what you are praying for as a family
I’ll warn you…this idea really upsets people. But most of those people live in houses with both parents, a white picket fence, healthy kids and their head in the sand. You are going to have to ignore them. As sweet as they are, they simply don’t understand. Hurting children already know it hurts. They aren’t dumb. Hiding things from them won’t keep them innocent in this. Instead, it will convince them that we are lying and it will cause them to miss seeing God.
So when you pray, involve your kids. Teach them that God comforts and is near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). Teach them that He provides.(Phil 4:19-20) As a family, we have prayed for many things. We pray for each other when the tears fall. We pray for other families that we know that are hurting. We pray for provision. For example, recently we lost our food stamp benefits due to a clerical error. I told them about it. I didn’t throw myself on the ground in horror and despair. I just told them that we needed to pray that it would be resolved quickly. Time passed and it didn’t get fixed as “quickly” as we might have liked. As the pantry and fridge grew empty, we prayed over it. God provided every time. No one was hungry, but everyone knew that God could be trusted. When the benefits returned, together we thanked Him and praised Him.
Now, I could have refrained from telling them, but I would have missed out on a beautiful opportunity to show God faithful in our circumstances. Friends, we are unwise to think that this is the only trial that our kids will ever face. The storms of life are ever raging. Now is the time to help them see that God will ALWAYS be there. (Joshua 1:9) I wish I had seen this promise as a girl. This same storm may rage or they may go through their own tragedy, but my kids WILL remember that God can be trusted.
Tell them the truth
Before you decide that I must be nuts, let me share that I grew up in a broken home. I don’t recall my mom EVER saying anything bad about my dad. I still don’t know why the marriage dissolved and I honestly have no clue why my parents couldn’t look past their own desires enough to keep our family together. I’m 35 years old, and friend, I’ve never once felt loved in my life. I’ve never felt good enough. I’ve always struggled with my weight. The list goes on and on. Yet, I lived in the perfect situation. Two parents who “fought too much” to keep it together made things better by living apart. I saw my dad fairly regularly. There wasn’t one single negative circumstance surrounding the divorce….besides, well the divorce.
I mention this here not to deter you from getting a divorce or to talk you into fighting for your marriage (although I’d love to do just that.) What I hope to covey is that covering up the truth helps no one. In the situation of divorce, we are all told that we will be just fine, but the truth is they’re not fine. I was not fine and even today still struggle deeply with issues that were stuffed down and kept quiet.
Whether your children are facing a parent who walked out, a cancer diagnosis, or any other trial…PLEASE, I beg you, tell them the truth. It doesn’t have to be messy. I’m not suggesting you say- “your daddy just couldn’t keep his pants on.” Obviously, not appropriate. Just tell them that it’s not fine. It’s not ok for parents to abandon their children. It’s not ok for bodies to be invaded with sickness. Admit that it hurts and that you are angry with God. All of that is ok. Remember, these precious souls will one day walk another trial. What example should they then follow?
Help them figure out what to do with the unknown
For me, this is the hardest part of the valley that we walk. I hate the unknown. It’s hard to wake up wondering if there will be enough money to pay the rent or enough energy to do the laundry. I know you feel the pain of the unknown, too. Don’t forget that your children also very much live in the land of unknown. Things are likely changing in your home regularly. Schedules are a mess. Babysitters are common. And promises are probably being broken. We need to help them deal with the unknown and we don’t always have the option of just not telling them.
My younger children will voice their frustration over this issue with a fit. If a promise is broken or a fun time missed because we now have to go to the doctor, there is always a breakdown. Give them grace in the moment. And then remind them that the disappointment hurt you too. Tell them that you prayed and asked God to take the hurt away. Remind them that God sees our tears (Psalm 56:8-11) and that He alone is sovereign over all things. We might not always know the plans, but He does. And sweet friend, His plans are SO good. (Jer. 29:11)
My oldest is a stuffer. She puts it all down in there and then blows up. I’ve learned to watch for the signs of “stuffing” and found that if I can pull her aside in advance, we can talk it out. We will talk about the unknowns that hurt her and I write them on paper. Once we think we have them all, I rip them up and give them to God, praying over each one. All the while, reminding her that He is the healer. His promises are KNOWN.
Oh friend, I just want you to know that we are not statistics. We are HIS precious children. Regardless of the circumstances, our families, our children, our lives are victorious in Christ. Claim that truth today.
I’ll see you tomorrow for a fantastic printable to help deal with the feelings, plus more scripture!
Your turn~ Which one of these issues do you struggle with the most? Let’s encourage one another!
This post is part of ihomeschool network’s Hopscotch series.
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