Parents in Pain

Parents in Pain

The older my sons get, the more I see people I know and love in pain – a kind of pain only a parent can feel.   As I have been thinking about this blog post throughout the day, I was reminded of when my own parents told me when I was young that I couldn’t understand the pain they felt as parents.  For a child, it is impossible.  I know you heard it too.  But I don’t think many of us really understood.  Really, we couldn’t.  You cannot understand the pain of miscarriage until you have experienced it yourself.  You cannot understand the pain of childbirth, unless you have gone through it.  You can describe it, but the description will always be inadequate.  Both of these examples refer to being a parent, a parent in pain.

There are so many different types of pain a parent can experience.  But I find there seems to be a common thread.  We lack control.  I’m not referring to being a control freak or anything of the sort.  But so often our children experience things that if WE could change them, we would!  We would take away the pain of illness…whether it be a “simple” ear infection or life threatening cancer.  We do what we can to take it away or stop the pain.  Giving those medications helps us to feel in control, but are we?

What about the pain a child experiences when they are hurt by others.  Maybe your husband has been transferred and you will be moving across the country.  As adults, we have more of an understanding of being able to keep in touch with close friends, but a child many times doesn’t understand that.  And many times those relationships are just over.  The loneliness they feel in  a new place, when they haven’t developed the coping skills that we have to deal with it.  We can’t take that pain away from them, but we would give our left arm for our child to have a friend.

Your child may have a disability, be it a learning disability that no one can see or a physical challenge that causes them pain emotionally as well as physically.  The teasing from others, the feelings of failure…what parent hasn’t cried with their child over these things or wanted to take them away.  In all these issues, we cannot ultimately control what happens to our child.   But we know who does control it and we must choose to put our trust in Him….or not.

As our children  grow out of the childhood years and into adolescence,  our roles change a bit.  We are, or should be, less authoritative and more of a guide.  All the teaching we have done should have firmed up in their hearts.  A new independence is born in many children.  Do they look to us for guidance, or are they rebelling against all they have been taught?  This is a new kind of pain and in some ways, it hurts even more.

In III John 1:4  John states, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”  I have wondered of late, as I see other parents in pain, is the converse also true?  Is there no greater sorrow than to hear that our children are NOT walking in truth?  I think it is very possible.  And again, there is that thread of needing/wanting control.  Wouldn’t we do anything we could possibly do to stop them down a road of destruction?  What if this?  What if that?  If only I had this or that?  But that would mean WE were the ones in control…thank God we aren’t.

One tendency I have seen in myself when I was younger, was the tendency to judge those parents in pain.  I had my own “what ifs” and “if onlys.”  I saw things I would do differently with my own children.  We don’t want to let that possibility cross our minds…that our own children might make really bad choices one day.  But folks, it is only by God’s grace that we are not ALL walking in the same place!  Many parents walk this road to one degree or another.  They children may not be renouncing their faith, but they may be making decisions that can only reap fruitlessness.  We would all do anything to bring our children on their knees before the God of the universe!  That is not our job!  In fact, they are not even OURS!  They belong to Him!

Before you cast judgement on a parent in pain, try to put yourself in their shoes.  The pain, the shame, the embarrassment, the feelings of failure,  the FEAR…all these human emotions, some of which show a lack of trust in the ONLY trustworthy ONE…these are emotions you yourself might feel one day.  It is possible, you know?  Even if you do EVERYTHING right!  It could be you.  It might be you right now.  Are you a parent?  Are you in pain?  Is letting go and “letting God” about to kill you inside right now?  Are you able to be like Abraham and put your Isaac on the alter?  Are you willing to let them go and allow GOD to work in their hearts?  It’s the hardest thing you will ever do and possibly one of the most painful.  It sure shows us how easy it is to put our love for our children above our love for our Lord, doesn’t it?  Don’t hide.  There are others who have walked in your shoes who want to love you and comfort you, as the Lord comforted them.  Not everyone will judge you….but some will.  One day you may be bringing them comfort as they walk the same road.  And you will remember that one day you were the judging one, then the hurting one.  May we as the body of Christ minister to those parents…the parents in pain.  May we minister to those young people, love them, speak truth to them in love, maybe even share the horrid path we ourselves walked one day…when we were in THEIR shoes.

II Corinthians 1:3

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.”


16 thoughts on “Parents in Pain

  1. Oh, Beth. You really put your finger on it.

    I’ve watched my parents’ pain, as some of my siblings have made some truly terrible decisions. I’ve felt pain as a parent, too, and tried to support my dh through his pain.

    And you’re right: before being there, yourself, a parent’s pain is incomprehensible. My continual prayer is that I learn to extend grace to other, so I don’t needlessly add to another’s burden.

  2. We must try not to judge others! It is not our job to judge.
    Yes, many parents go through difficult times and inforeseen difficulties but our children are apart of us and we feel everything deeply.
    But it’s not all bad or downhill. We share our children’s joys as well as their sorrows.

  3. Pastfirst,

    You are so right! It is not all bad or downhill. I appreciate you bringing that out. For the purpose of this post though, I am referring to when our children make life altering bad decisions that dishonor God and mock what He has done for them. The comfort to these parents is knowing that with God there is always HOPE as He can bring beauty from ashes! Only HE has the power to change a seemingly hopeless situation.

  4. I was one of the lost ones for many years. I lived on the streets because I was so head strong and would not live under the rules of my parents home. Out I went. I was so angry for so long at them. Many years went by and they did not know if I was dead or alive. (What pain I caused them.) I slept in a horse trailer, abandoned houses. I worked at a vegetable and fruit stand just to have a sandwich to eat. I remember seeing someone walk out of a McDonalds and feel they were rich to buy a hamburger. I was raped, beat by men, it was the worst time of my life and I’m still in therapy because of what I chose to put myself through. But I have learned that through all that pain God had his eye on me and was there waiting. He protected me and when it was time, I was truly his. I truly believe in grace. I can today help other kids that are like I was. Life is truly a Merry Go-Round — and the seasons they go round and round, and the painted ponies go up and down as Joni Mitchell put into words.

  5. Pepsi,
    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I was just talking with someone today, reminding them of the healing God had done in them in one area, as they are now hurting in a totally different situation. He is the SAME healer! I hope you have been able to restore with your family. The friend I was speaking with has restored after years and years of damaged relationships with her family members. It was truly a miracle to see!


  6. Yes I love my family so much and we’ve all forgiven each other for just not being able to communicate when I was a teen and I had to see my part of being so hard-headed. My Mom has passed away from cancer and I was able to be there for her during her illness. I miss her so but know I’ll see her again. Many children that leave the nest and do things we (as parents) hurt so over, will come back to us like that Merry Go-Round and some won’t. That’s how I know it was God’s Grace. It’s all in God’s hands. My Mom and Dad never stopped praying for me. I felt for all of you so and wanted to let you know prayer is answered and to give you Hope.

  7. Pepsi – I do not know if you will ever come back and read this, but thank you for sharing so openly. Testimonies like yours give hope and courage to mothers of prodigals.

    Beth – thank you for mentioning the judgment issue. If only we could all be wise enough to remember that every human has the gift of free will. And there is no perfect home until we reach heaven.

  8. I am a parent in pain due to my 35 year old daughters rejection of me and her little sister because her little sister married a non Christian at age 18. Well, I think that is the reason. She has never explained, just had her husband call and say I wasnt welcome anymore. He said the same to her sister. She had refused to come to the wedding so her sister didnt send and invitation. She had said some really awful things to her sister who at the time was really quite fragile. Then I think, because she didnt get an invite she blamed me and so I was blackbanned. I have continued to send gifts and cards but have no reply. My grand daughter was 8 months when I saw her last. She is now almost 5. I make her pretty twirly dresses and my other children take photos and send them to me but my heart just aches, and I know my youngest, the one who married a non Christian (who by the way is doing really well in her marriage and work and lets me know that God still is in her life) misses her big sister so very much. I know that I have been a really good Mum to my daughter but I also believe that when our kids make a decision to put God in a back corner they need us even more. They dont need us to shut them out like this daughter of mine has done to her little sister. I see more grace in this young woman than is possible to see in her judging older ‘spiritual’ sister. As you can see, I tend to go from longing for her to feeling dsappointed with her. One day she will see what she has done.

    • Lyn,
      That must hurt so much, Sister! I can understand her disagreement with her sister being unequally yoked to an unbeliever, but the Bible doesn’t tell us to shun them when they make a mistake. She is now bound to this man and God can use her in his life to bring him to Himself. One positive thing, at least in my opinion, is that she is allowing her daughter to accept the gifts you send. That shows that she hasn’t totally shut the door, so there is hope. How long has it been? At least 5 years from what you said about your grand daughter’s age. I would encourage you to keep reaching out in grace, acknowledging that she probably won’t answer, mainly to protect yourself, and when she finally does, it will be a blessing. Pray for the Holy Spirit to convict her heart and allow her to see the hurt she is causing. I pray that one day soon, you will be able to have a feast for your prodigal daughter.

      • Thank you Beth. I wrote this quite some time ago and nothing has really changed. I have seen them because my last unmarried child tied the knot earlier this year and she was a bridesmaid. She was polite but nothing has been said to explain or say sorry. About the receiving of gifts she has made it quite plain that if people want to give her something she will take it. Take what you can while you can is her philosophy – even if her gift one year is a huge version of the gift her older sister received. Her Dad (who walked out when she was 17 and her little sister she has blackbanned was 3)has always spoiled her over her big sister and she doesnt stand against it even though she says she loves her sister. Just happy to take if someone wants to give. I just keep giving, but feel that maybe I have come to a point where I can fairly happily live without her and not yearn for her to be a part of my life. Maybe because I dont want her to do all this to me again?? Just protecting myself I guess and I know that isnt the best way to deal with anything. My youngest, on the other hand continues to bless me in SO many ways as do my 3 other children (all grown). God IS good and He holds her in His Hand.

  9. Thanks so much Beth. I pray for that feast day too.
    My last child is getting married in January and she wants all her 3 sisters as bridesmaids. (They are 39, 36 and 23 with the one getting married being 25 – and a brother who is 35) This will cause my prodigal (the judgemental one) to have to stand beside her little sister and communicate. My youngest just wants her big sister back. Funny how I feel that the older one is more of a prodigal than the one who has God in the back room. This younger one is so much more forgiving and gracious than her big sister.
    It is good that she accepts gifts but I do recall her saying one day that ” I’ll take whatever people give me, I dont care who they are,” so I’m not sure if that is really SUCH a good thing. She said that after I noted that the gift she received from her Dad (who left when she was 17) was similar to what her older sister had received, only 10 times as large. She had no concern for her sisters feelings about it. She has always been such a beautiful person to look at but I have always tried to teach her that beauty is as beauty does. I am so sad. She isnt beautiful anymore.

  10. Lynn, with statements like that, there is more than one daughter with God in the back room. God can bring both of them back to Him and restore relationships. The hard part, for you, will be keeping your eyes on Him and waiting, when the pain is so bad that it makes you sick to your stomach. But He IS able.

    Blessings, Sister

    • Oh I just realised that I have already told you some of those things. Silly me. I think my brain is a bit scrambled. I lost my lovely husband just 2 years ago yesterday to cancer and sometimes wonder if I have a bit of a scrambled brain. He was only 60. Forgive me if I have already said that :).

  11. thank you for your kind and wise words they have given me much comfort. my daughter is 17 and moved in with her boyfriend and theres not much i can do about it, she will be 18 ina couple months. my heart is broken but i am thankful for the maturre christian women who have not judged me. this experience is teaching me much about love and grace and trusting my savior.

  12. Hi,
    I’m glad I found this website today.
    I didn’t know my heart could bleed any more over my kids but, alas, here I am… hemorrhaging.
    My son, the only of 7 kids (blended family) who has come BACK to Christ has recently backslidden horribly. I am devastated but had to be strong for my daughter-in-law. He ran away from home at a young age, got into drugs and a huge mess for many years and has just recently come back to the LORD and to us with what we thought was a sincerely clean heart.
    I feel like all of the oxygen has been sucked out of my cells and, at any moment, I’m going to just melt into a pile of mush and skin from this grief.
    Please pray to THE GOD Messiah.

    • Oh my heart aches for you!! Now is the times to remember that God is the HOUND of HEAVEN!!! And that He loves your child more than you do – if you can possibly imagine that!! HE is not going to let him go. Your son is obviously still working through stuff and sometimes we need to come to the very end of ourselves before we find the way home. WOW that is SO hard – to let your child come to the end of themselves!!! I know!!! I like to think that when we are saved that God has us by our wrists while we hold His Hand. That way if WE let go, He still has hold of us. HE’S not going to let go. God bless you. Rest in Him and trust you son to Him.

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