I’ve been there. Broken. Tired. Cried out. Prayed out. Done.
The term battle weary is often used to describe a type of fatigue felt by solders when they get tired of fighting in a war. This type of fatigue leads to depression, anxiety, mental exhaustion and other forms of mental anguish. It’s an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness that the battle is never going to end and you simply don’t feel like fighting another day. As a parent of children from hard places, I have often found myself there. Weary, worn-out and desperate for a break or breakthrough in the war for my children’s lives and healing.
My first experience with battle weariness as a parent started one fall afternoon when one of our daughters was sixteen and didn’t come home from school. This particular daughter was sweet, loving, kind and gentle. She was also secretive and sneaky. We had everything from keystroke recorders to phone parental controls in full-force to try and keep her safe and guide her. None of it mattered. The desire for control of her own life was more powerful than anything we could muster up in our parenting abilities.
After a couple of hours of trying to locate her through friends, we made the dreaded phone call to police to report our daughter missing – a runaway. Little did I know that this day would set into motion a course of events that would result in her being found, running away again, being placed in a residential treatment facility for troubled teenagers and eventually returning to live with her biological family. Talk about feeling like a failure. It was a season of time marked with miles and miles of prayers and tears during long road trips to visit. Time and time again, I questioned myself, our decision to adopt, our abilities as parents, and God. How could it really be this bad? I know God spoke to us about this child.
In the years since, I’ve found myself at this place on many occasions for different reasons and different children. I’ve also heard the feeling repeated by parent after parent as the struggle to keep their head above water in parenting children with such deep emotional scars and behavioral patterns that every day is a battle and it seems like they will never again experience life with happiness. “But I have faith……” “But, God told me to do this….” “But, I cover them in prayer every day….” I understand. Those are all the same things that I said to myself and screamed at God when I was overwhelmed and distraught in the midst of the battle. On those long days and dark nights when it seemed all hope was lost, no one understood and I was all alone in this fight, I did the only thing that I knew to do. I reached with all my might for the last thread of faith that I could muster and cried out to God to help me make it. He did.
There is not a darker place than the depths of a broken heart full of fear, regret, doubt and failure. Yet, it’s in that very dark place that God meets us and shines His light brightly. It doesn’t matter the size of the room or the depth of the darkness – a single match can bring light. Sometimes, in our journey as parents of children from hard places – all we need is a single spark of hope to help us keep going.
The truth of our journey with Christ is that even in the very center of God’s will for our lives, we can face our toughest battles. That child we prayed for, are helping out of a bad situation, dreamed about and were promised….yes, that one – is the very child that will create scars on our knees from hours spent in prayer. In the midst of my storm, I’ve discovered the reality that the things God promises us are the very things the enemy tries to steal with every weapon from hell used against us. This, friends, is war.
Years have passed since my first truly battle weary parenting experience. Our then sixteen year old daughter is now a lovely twenty year old mom. Since that time I’ve visited that place of brokenness with many of my children, more times than I would like. I’ve discovered beauty in the dark places. No, not because they’re comfortable, but because my Comforter is there. When my eyes are swollen shut from tears of tiredness, it’s there that I see Him and feel His peace.
I find encouragement in Him, in His Word. I find peace when I read Hebrews 12 and know that this race I’m running is one of endurance. Jesus endured the shame of the cross – broken, bleeding, mocked – for us. How does what I’m going through with my children measure up to that? It reminds me to keep running, never give up and keep my eyes focused on the goal – my children’s healing. I go back to Hebrews 12 time and time again. It’s my solace, my kick-in-the-pants, my hope, my reminder and my focus. I encourage you to dig deep within the Word and find yours. That’s truly where our strength comes from.
If someone hasn’t said it lately, allow me, “THANK YOU, MOM,” “THANK YOU, DAD.”
You are doing a good job. Keep it up. God is WITH you. Be encouraged.