This has been a really rough week for me. It was the two year anniversary of my daughter’s death and I’ll admit that her passing will forever leave a scar on my heart.
Over the last 13 years I’ve spent countless hours coaching moms who are are lost in the quagmire of disbelief in what their kids are doing. Many of their kids are doing drugs. As parents we don’t want to imagine our kid would choose drugs and it takes us a while to even comprehend the extent of our situation. We rationalize that we can fix it. What we don’t realize is that the drugs alter our child’s brain in such a way that it typically throws the entire family into a crazy cycle that overtakes our lives before we even recognize it. As my husband used to say, “It’s the first thing we talk about in the morning, and the last thing we talk about at night.”
If you are dealing with a kid on drugs, feel free to reach out to me. I’ve walked the path and might have insight that you have not considered. It is the legacy I want to leave as I reconcile within myself why God has allowed my journey to be so full of pain.
But what does this have to do with gratitude?
What I’ve learned is that gratitude can have an impact on us when we are dealing with difficult situations. It’s brain altering. Research has shown that being thankful can give us a sense of well-being and improve our physical health. And when we are in the pit of despair isn’t that just what we need? Why wouldn’t we want to take advantage of this way of thinking as well as pass the art of being grateful on to our kids? After all, it’s cheaper than paying for counseling or going to the doctor.
So as I coach hurting parents, I’ve made it my mission to find something positive for them to focus on rather than the craziness of their world. What can they be thankful for? And part of our process is focusing on gratitude.
So this week especially, I’ve focused on what I can be thankful for as I’ve contemplated by daughter’s death. It is a tribute to her in what God has been doing in my life — and what He did through her and the lives she touched.
- I’m thankful for the texts, the cards, and flowers of friends who remembered Andrea. Only God could have made sure that several stargazer lillies were in the pink bouquet mix — my daughter’s favorite.
- I’m thankful that God has brought joy through a 17 month-old grandson who kept me laughing on my day of remembering.
- Thank you, Lord, that my daughter-in-law has been staying with us the last several weeks. It is amazing how You brought her into my life from Germany and transplanted her in Cincinnati at a time when I needed a daughter to love.
- I’m grateful for the stories that have come out of nowhere from my three boys this week. They’ve been reminders that I was a good mother and came just when I wanted to doubt myself.
And what about you? What can you be grateful for even if you have a son or daughter on drugs? Can you be thankful that you are in contact with them? Thankful that they are alive? Thankful for what God will do in your life as a result of the trial?
And if you don’t have a child into drugs, can you praise God for that?
No matter how difficult our circumstances, scripture says to praise Him.
I know it is easy to get frustrated with our tweens and teens. We want to fix them, make them grow up, and sometimes wonder how they can do such stupid things. Can we praise God in the midst of the frustration? Can we just laugh at some of the things they think or do? Laughter lowers our blood pressure and reduces stress.
We need to laugh often as we raise our teens in order to survive.
The next step is to share with our kids what we are thankful for. Sometimes I do it as I pray out loud with my kids at the dinner table, “Lord, thank you that ______ got that speeding ticket today. Use it as a reminder the next time he realizes he is going over the speed limit.” Another way is to just say something like, “Honey, I’m so glad your accident was only a fender bender and you weren’t hurt. We have a lot to be grateful for.”
Another thing you might consider is a gratitude night around the dinner table. Everyone takes a turn sharing 2-3 things they are thankful for during the week. It is amazing what happens to the family dynamics when we start sharing the positives rather than staying focused on the terrible things that happen in our lives.
Psalm 34:1-4 (TLB)
I will praise the Lord no matter what happens. I will constantly speak of his glories and grace. I will boast of all his kindness to me. Let all who are discouraged take heart. Let us praise the Lord together and exalt his name. For I cried to him and he answered me! He freed me from all my fears.
Praising God in the midst of the pain. And feel free to share my story with other moms who trying to face their own difficult reality.
“Let go…and Let God”,