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.”