Sitting with a group of friends one evening we discussed the difficulties of parenting—specifically, parenting teenage boys. My heart broke as one friend shared her story, and I remembered back to the day she brought her son home from the hospital. She couldn’t have been happier, as her journey to motherhood had been a bumpy, uncertain and at times a heartbreaking road. I’ll never forget the look of joy on her face as she handed me her little bundle.
Now, 15 years later, she is faced with some serious decisions as a mother. She loves her son no less than the first day she laid eyes on him. If anything, she loves him more. But now she is forced to love differently. Today’s love is less about cuddles, and more about boundaries; less rocking him to sleep and more about providing structure.
She is the kind of mother who scrapbooks, gardens, and throws all out birthday parties for her kids. She’s tender and strong. And her son is breaking her.
What do you do when parenting breaks your heart?
Do you blame yourself?
Do you blame God?
Do you worry?
If we’re honest with ourselves we’ve probably done all of the above. But these options are unlikely to bring much comfort or relief to our brokenness. There are no easy answers to those facing the dire circumstances of children who are headed down the wrong path—experimenting with drugs, dropping out of school, hanging out with the wrong crowd, or denying their faith. What if your child is facing a mental illness or having suicidal thoughts? How can we love in face of this level of heartache and difficulty?
During the season of Easter I often think of what it must have been like for Mary, the mother of Jesus. Although she didn’t have a child who was rebellious, she had a child who rebelled against society; a child who became an outlaw and an outcast.
Once, when Mary and her other sons came to see Jesus, they couldn’t get to him because of the crowd. Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, and they want to see you.” Jesus replied, “My mother and my brothers are all those who hear God’s word and obey it.” (Luke 8:20-21 NLT) Mary must have felt rejected and confused. Maybe she thought about all that she had sacrificed to be his mother—her plans and her reputation. And when Jesus lay dying on the cross we see a brokenhearted woman. But we also find something else: Something beautiful.
“When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, ‘Dear woman, here is your son.’ And he said to this disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from then on this disciple took her into his home.” (John 19:26-27 NLT)
Just as Jesus cared for His mother He cares for you and me. He cares for the brokenhearted. He gives us what we need when we need it. And more often than not we simply need Him. We need His love so that we can give love. We need His healing so that we can begin again.
What do you do when parenting breaks your heart? Share your story and comment below!