Excusing herself from a Saturday morning brunch, Erin pretended a headache and left in a hurry. As she got to her car she found herself shaking so much that she was having trouble finding the right key to open the car door. Gasping for air and holding back tears, she finally found the right one and quickly unlocked the door. Safe inside the driver’s seat, she let the floodgates of despair roll down her cheeks. “These are supposed to be my friends. How can they be so cruel? Lord, where are you? What am I doing wrong?”
Needing to get away from the pain, Erin quickly exited the church parking wanting a place of solitude. Trying to think of a place where she could be alone, she steered the car onto the interstate thinking of the park a few miles away–a place to walk and pull her emotions back in check before she returned home.
Seeing the beautiful trees in bloom and the little bridge across the stream gave her a sense of calm. “I know you are here, Lord. I just need to see you and feel your presence.”
She grabbed a stack of tissues and stuffed them into her jacket pocket before she grabbed her old gym shoes from the trunk. She knew she needed better support for walking with the ground damp from yesterday’s rain. She chuckled a little at the thought that she would be adding to the dampness when her tears really started flowing.
Walking down the hill to a place where she could be alone, she found a bench overlooking the fork of the river. She allowed herself to sit and think through the conversation of the morning.
There were six of them at the table. All of them had been friends for years. They had several kids similar in age and had shared many times the antics of growing up. They had laughed about the mistakes their children had made through the years and had rejoiced together at each one’s accomplishments. But now things were different. The stakes were higher.
It all started out innocently. Barb had mentioned her daughter’s scholarship. Sharon had mentioned that her son Cory had barely missed the ACT score he was hoping for. There was banter of summer jobs the kids had acquired. After lots of laughter and catching up, the dreaded question came. “So Erin, how is Dan doing?”
“Not too much has changed. He still isn’t making the choices Sam and I would like.”
“What’s going on now?”
Erin cautiously began sharing a little bit of their latest saga with their 17 year old. All Erin remembered then was the barrage of advice. “If he were my son, then I’d ____________.”
“I can’t believe you haven’t tried _____________.”
And then the problem solving party began. It wasn’t so much that she minded their desire to help. She knew that each of them really did want the best for all their kids. Lord only knew that she would do anything for the right advice.
She would do anything to change the situation with her son.
The problem was the invalidating way they went about it. By the time she left, she felt as if each of them was the best mother in the world and she was ‘stupid’ for not getting it right with her son.
She had overheard Margo whisper to Jan, “If she would just take our advice, she wouldn’t be in this mess.”
That’s when Erin fled the scene. How dare they judge her and pin Dan’s behavior on her.
Here she was in a group of women that had always been the best of friends, but when her teen was making poor choices, she felt their disrespect of her situation loud and clear.
“Lord, help me to cling to truth in this situation. If I truly am the source of the reason Dan is making these choices, then show me the way. Give me the tools and the wisdom to know how to respond in each situation with him.”
As the tears flowed, she continued.
“I know your word is true.”
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
“Lord, I know that I am not in control of the trials I will endure here on this earth. Lord, this situation with Dan is so difficult. Help me to see truth; Your truth. If I am the source of his behavior, then make it clear to me.
With each tear that fell, peace flooded her soul.
And then Erin felt a prompting that surprised her. “The closeness of your friendships is not healthy for you right now. Put boundaries around your heart through this trial. You need someone walking beside you who has been down this path; someone who is safe to talk with. You need someone who will respect you for who you are and will affirm you in this situation. There are women who have experienced your pain. They will know what you need.”
“Lord, help me find the person to walk beside me. I need them and I need you.”
Other moms don’t always understand when we’re in the middle of difficult waters with our kids. Friendships that were once anchors in our life have the potential to pull us under and become toxic to our ability to see truth.
Dare you to find women who have walked through similar fires and are on the other side. How did they navigate the trials? What worked and what didn’t? And how did they survive the storm? Surrounding yourself with moms who can relate to your life circumstances can be a healing salve in an otherwise harsh world. Take care of yourself and surround yourself with women who will give you empathy and grace.
“Let go…and let God,”