Of all the things on my “no fun” list, heartbreak sure takes a top spot.
I was reminded of the intensity of teenage love and heartache during a recent conversation with a momma friend. We chuckled and grimaced as we swapped stories. In those brief moments, I was immediately transported back to days of sitting in our family Monte Carlo (circa 1974), blaring Chicago’s “Hard Habit to Break” as I cried my eyes out. The essence of my heartbreaks was captured in many a Chicago song back in the day.
Fast-forward a millennium and I am having a conversation with my son about a recent “heartbreak” of sorts where he mentioned sitting in his truck, listening to Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man.” As much as I could relate to the sentiment, I did have to smile inwardly as I realized he had only been her man for about forty-eight hours.
But heart hurts are heart hurts, and I truly understood his sadness.
My most recent “tsunami of hurt”
Maybe you remember those hurts too, and today you can smile with the memory.
Maybe your relationship wounds run a bit deeper and smiles are not so easy. I have those, too.
There’s no Chicago, Bruno, or even Adele song that could capture the depth of the feelings you experienced.
I guess, because I have experienced those heartaches, I was caught off guard by my most recent tsunami of hurt. Maybe you have felt it, too: the one where your teenage son breaks your heart.
The reasons why?
The one where he doesn’t share his life with you. The one where he prefers spending time with other people. The one where you aren’t sure he’s going to make the wise choice. The one where he doesn’t make the wise choice. The one where you desperately want to see spiritual fruit and must admit that you don’t see much right now.
I know that if I walked around our group therapy circle and handed you the mic, you could add your own piercing reason for heartbreak. Whether it is a teenage boy or girl, my guess is that you can relate to the rejection we have felt as parents as these young ’uns grapple with becoming young adults.
“Come to me”
I’ve been wanting to write about this for months, but, honestly, it has just been too hard. Lots of tears. Teensy bit of anger. A vat of sadness and disappointment. And I hadn’t postured myself to hear what the Lord wanted to teach me in and through this heartbreak.
I just sat in my sadness, spinning. It even started to feel like I was drowning in it as I struggled to reach my kid. And that’s when God reached in and wrapped me up with his love.
First, he reminded me of his encouragement.
As a counselor, I pay attention to words he uses when he is “in session” with people in the Bible. For example, in Matthew 11:28, he says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Let’s start there. Are you laboring and heavy and laden and restless?
A day of heartbreak and healing
Next, he reminded me of his authority.
The miracle of Peter walking on the water to Jesus came to mind. Matthew 14:22–31 states,
Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So, Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Just like Peter, I need to be reminded of who he is: the One who not only walked on the water but the very One who created the water and placed it just so on this planet.
In the past, I have distanced myself from Peter, thinking we might not be friends because he’s so flagrant with cutting off ears and denying Christ. I know: pretty judgy.
And I also thought we might not be able to relate because we didn’t have the same temperament or personality. Clearly, he is a six wing seven and I am a two wing three. (I know I just handed many of you a tiny fourteen-karat gold gift with that enneagram reference. You’re welcome.)
It is in this “day in the life” of Peter that I realize I can relate to him.
He was having an emotional day—a day filled with amazing teaching and healing but also one filled with heartbreak. He started the day with a gut punch, finding out that John the Baptist had been beheaded. In his loyalty to Jesus, I am sure Peter felt sick about it.
They all tried to retreat (and, my guess, grieve this loss), but the crowds followed them. Jesus did what he always does and showed compassion, this time by healing the sick. Then they got hungry, and we all know how emotional hungry people can get.
I think Peter and the others probably got a little panicked. But not Jesus. He invited the disciples to participate in his amazing miracle of feeding all those people.
And just when his day was looking like it might end with a peaceful boat ride, Peter and the other disciples are paralyzed with fear, thinking they see a ghost on the water. Jesus immediately calms this fear. But then Peter is filled with doubt, wondering if it was indeed Jesus.
Up and down. Did I mention he was having an emotional day?
Jesus once again takes a heavy-laden soul and invites him in. Come.
And Peter doesn’t hesitate.
Can you imagine how peace-filled that moment must have felt for Peter?
Exhilarating. Freeing. Safe. Eyes locked and loaded.
But then, he got distracted by the wind and looked away. And the security and intimacy he had just experienced turned to fear and flailing.
Thankfully, Jesus did what he does and reached in to rescue him.
All I need as a parent
Recently, I have found myself having more of those emotional days.
I start my day walking with Jesus, living on mission. And then I feel the gut punch of disappointment or heartbreak. Before I realize it, I’ve looked away, distracted. In a quick minute, I am sinking, flailing. I struggle to find anything or anyone that might help save me in my desperate moment as a parent.
And that is when Jesus reaches in and rescues me with the gentle reminder that he is all I need in this parenting journey.
I’m so thankful the Lord invites us to let go of our heavy burdens by looking to him to heal our fears and doubts, our heartbreaks.
I am encouraged, and I hope you are too, by the reality of who Christ is and how he wants to love us through every heartbreaking, soul-flailing moment with our kids.
And I have realized I do want to be more like Peter and, without hesitation, accept Jesus’ invitation to come.
The Christian Parenting Prayer Journal
We’ve been blown away by your amazing response to our prayer journal.
In fact, we sold out of our first printing and, by popular demand, have ordered more that are now available. A huge thank you to each of you who have ordered one for yourself, your small group, teachers, and even grandparents.
Here’s a note we received from one mom after she received her journal:
I am so thrilled to have the Christian Parenting prayer guide. This can be a scary time raising kids, and this journal not only gives me specific prayers for my children, it reminds me of God’s truth and promises. It reminds me every day to have faith over fear!
In case you missed it, this journal has one main focus to pray over your kids each week of the school year, beginning in September. There’s a place to make notes on specific areas you’re praying about for your kids, as well as related Scripture to guide you in praying each week.
We purposefully made it small in size so you can keep it in your car, on your desk, in the bathroom, or anywhere that will remind you to take time to pray over your kids.
Keep up the good fight in raising your kids—and give yourself a break in the places where you haven’t gotten it completely right.
We’re all there with you, counting on Jesus to stand in the gaps of our parenting.