My daughter is 31. Her name is Renee. In some circles, she's well-known because of her struggles (twloha.com). You can learn more about that here. She's wrestled with alcohol and drug abuse, self-harm and mental health issues for many years.
I was in denial.
In the beginning, I was clueless. It still breaks my heart that her dad and I never knew about Renee's private struggles. She managed to keep them hidden until her late teens. If we had known, we would've gotten her help sooner.
Would it have made a difference? No one knows. Would it have altered some of our decisions? Maybe, but we can't go back and redo the past. We have to let go of regrets.
When I realized the extent of her problems, I hid them too. I kept them from my friends and coworkers as long as possible because I was embarrassed and ashamed. I didn't want to face the truth myself and I didn't want anyone to think badly of me—or of my daughter.
She wasn't bad. She needed help.
Today, I understand, but I didn't back then. I'm not proud of how I responded. It wasn't my finest hour. Forgiveness has been given and received.
Mom, Dad, we have to accept what we can't change.
We need to forgive ourselves and move forward, not dreading the future. We can't change that, either.
But God is in both places.
What I Learned
Secrets keep us sick, no matter how old we are. Honesty is tough but necessary. Educating ourselves on their issues
isn't easy either, but information increases our ability to understand. Please stop hiding. Reach out and get professional help.
Denial is like an untreated wound. Ignoring the issues doesn't do any good. The problems only worsen.
If you're like I was back then, there's something I want you to know. When I cried out to God, He gave me the courage to come out of denial and treat my wounds. On my own, I didn't have the courage.
He strengthened me to take one day at a time and enjoy one moment at a time, while I kept doing what I knew to do—face hard things and be honest—with Him and with others. He provided what was needed when it was needed. "God is my helper; the Lord is with those who support my life" (Ps. 54:4).
God Will Help You
How many times have you cried out in despair? When you call out to God, He hears, and He will help. I promise. He is faithful and trustworthy. Every time.
Prayer: O God, give us wisdom and strength to be the best parents we can be. Help us be honest, stop keeping secrets, come out of our denial and face what is. May Your will be done in our child's life—and in ours. Amen.
These Scriptures Also Helped
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9a).
"But I will hope continually" (Ps. 71:14a).
Dena Yohe is the author of You Are Not Alone: Hope for Hurting Parents of Troubled Kids (2017). Co-founder of Hope for Hurting Parents, she is a blogger, former pastor's wife and CRU affiliate staff. She and her husband, Tom, have been guests on "Family Talk With Dr. James Dobson," "Family Life" with Dennis Rainey" and "Focus on the Family" with Jim Daly. A proud mom of three adult children, she loves being Mimi to her grandchildren. Find out more at HopeForHurtingParents.com.
This blog originally appeared at hopeforhurtingparents.com. It is an excerpt from You Are Not Alone: Hope for Hurting Parents of Troubled Kids.
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