Day One: Introduction
A soldier is never ready for war. They’re simply faithful to the call to defend their country. Despite their fears, despite the comfort of home, despite their preference—they go. When you enlisted as a foster/adoptive parent, you also signed up for a war: a very real, gritty, long, and sometimes exhausting battle for the heart, mind, and healing of your child.
Ready or not...
The term battle weary is often used to describe a type of fatigue felt by soldiers when they get tired of fighting in a war. This type of fatigue leads to depression, anxiety, exhaustion, and other forms of mental anguish. It’s an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness that the battle is never going to end, and you simply don’t feel like fighting another day. As a parent of children from hard places, I have often found myself there. Weary, worn-out, and desperate for a break or breakthrough in the war for my children’s lives.
My first experience with battle weariness as a parent started one fall afternoon when our sixteen-year-old daughter didn’t come home from school. This particular daughter was sweet, loving, kind, and gentle. She was also secretive, deceptive, and sneaky. We used everything from keystroke recorders to phone parental controls to try and keep her safe and guide her. None of it mattered. Her desire to control her own life was more powerful than anything we could muster up in our parenting toolbox.
After a couple of hours of trying to locate her through friends, we made the dreaded phone call to police to report our daughter missing—a runaway. Little did I know that this day would set into motion a course of events that would result in her being found, running away again, being placed in a residential treatment facility for troubled teenagers, and eventually returning to live with her biological family. Talk about feeling like a failure. It was a season of time marked with miles and miles of prayers and tears during long road trips to visit her. Time and time again, I questioned myself, our decision to adopt, our abilities as parents, and God. How could it really be this bad? I know God spoke to us about this child.
In the years since I’ve found myself at this place on many occasions for different reasons and different children. I’ve also heard the feeling repeated by parent after parent, as the struggle to keep their head above water in parenting children with such deep emotional scars and behavioral patterns continue. Every day is a battle, and it seems like they will never again experience life with happiness. “But I have faith!” “But God told me to do this.” “But, I cover them in prayer every day.”
I understand. Those are all the same things I said to myself and screamed at God when I was overwhelmed and distraught in the midst of the battle. On those long days and dark nights when it seemed all hope was lost, no one understood, and I was all alone in this fight, I did the only thing that I knew to do. I reached with all my might for the last thread of faith that I could muster and cried out to God to help me make it. And He did.
There is no darker place than the depths of a broken heart full of fear, regret, doubt, and failure. Yet, it’s in that very dark place that God meets us and shines His light brightly. It doesn’t matter the size of the room or the depth of the darkness—a single match can bring light. Sometimes, in our journey as parents of children from hard places, all we need is a single spark of hope to help us keep going.
In the next 7 days, my prayer is that you find your spark of hope.
The truth of our journey with Christ is that even in the very center of God’s will for our lives, we can face our toughest battles. That child we prayed for or are helping out of a bad situation, the one we dreamed about and were promised—yes, that very child will create scars on our knees from hours spent in prayer.
In the midst of the storm, it rarely sprinkles; most often, it pours. Sometimes the only way to survive is to drop your umbrella and dance in the rain. In the middle of my storms, I’ve discovered that the things God promises us are the very things the enemy tries to steal with every weapon from hell. This, friends—is war.
Ready or not…
I encourage you to spend time with your spouse (or a trusted friend if you're single) to answer the following questions.
Discussion Questions – Day 1 Introduction
1. Have you ever considered the healing of your child’s heart and mind to be a spiritual war? Does this understanding change anything for you? If so, what?
2. As this study begins, Pam encourages you that the darkest places in life are where the light shines the brightest. Why do you think she says this? What do you hope to discover over the next 7-days?
3. Read Psalm 73:26. What does it mean for your flesh and heart to fail? How does it make you feel to think of God as “the strength of your heart and portion forever?”
4. What are you specifically asking God to do in your heart and family? How can this group pray for you?