What We Tell Our Kids About Pain and Suffering
What we tell our kids in their time of grief can shape their entire worldview of pain and of God.
It is a bit hard for me to even write that statement because it means that as a mama, I have a huge responsibility to help shape my kids into the people they are meant to be. Sometimes, if I am being honest, this responsibility seems a bit overwhelming. So let’s just get this disclaimer out of the way: We will all fail our children in some way. We will all mess up in our parenting and sometimes even teach the very opposite of what we mean to teach them. Many times, even the best of intentions can succumb to old patterns, beliefs and behaviors.
But if we are trying to raise healthy kids, and my guess is we all are all in this category, it means facing life with bravery, vulnerability, and truth. How we live our life speaks much louder to our kids than any words we could ever say.
If there is one area of my life that should disqualify me from parenting, it is in the handling of grief. I really feel like I should outsource and hire someone else to teach my kids about walking through pain. Growing up, my family whispered about pain behind closed doors in an effort to either deny its existence or to protect one another from harm. I learned from an early age that feeling pain was too overwhelming and that running from it was a much safer place in which to live.
The world sent a message to me during my early years. It told me that what I was feeling was too deep and too much for anyone to help me. It told me it was far safer to close the door and whisper than bravely face heartache with vulnerability and truth. It told me that maybe just maybe if I would pretend way deep down that nothing bad would ever happen, then maybe everything would be okay.
Nothing was okay. So, I ran. I medicated my aching heart throughout my younger years with everything from boys and GPA’s to isolation and pills. I chose things in my life that allowed me to numb the real problems of the world and concentrate on controlling whatever I could.
But now I know the truth. Now I know that the only way to face pain is to stare it in the face all the while looking up to a God who promises He is with you in the fight. I know that the only way through the fires of adversity is to walk right through them. I hate this. I really do. But I have learned that the most beautiful parts of life are often revealed when we pull back the curtains of pain and suffering to see the true character of God.
I have learned that the most beautiful parts of life are often revealed when we pull back the curtains of pain and suffering to see the true character of God.
God may not promise to keep suffering out of our lives, but he promises He holds us as we cry. He uses our pain to teach us about His goodness and faithfulness and His father-heart for us. He uses our suffering to draw us into relationship with him and he loves to so redeem a situation that you come away wondering if you would indeed choose a different or easier path. He is a God of surprises and oftentimes the most hope we will ever feel is right inside of pain and suffering.
One of the worst kinds of pain has to be watching your children suffer. Whether it is physical or emotional in nature, walking with your child through sorrow is the epitome of an out-of- control feeling. But as hard as we try, we can never shield them from pain nor should we. This pain is the very thing, if handled with bravery, authenticity and truth, that can drive them toward God. We must model for our children what it looks like to weather the storms of life. We cry, we pray and we hug them tight. We make sure that they know that just like their Father in heaven, we are right by their side, walking them through whatever it is that they are facing. We live authentically by letting them see the tears of our own sorrow while holding them as they scream and cry in their own. And I can promise that the real you, the one that feels and runs away, and runs back and faces the storms of life, is the you that your children will admire and emulate.
The real you is beautiful. The real you is brave and authentic and vulnerable. The real you is a window through which your children will see God.
The real you is a window through which your children will see God.
RULES OF GRIEF FOR OUR FAMILY:
What you feel is not too much for me or for God.
There is no end date so take your time.
I’ll hold you and catch your tears.
You are brave.
I’ll walk with you.
God is near to the brokenhearted and He is near to you.
God can handle your anger.
Speak your heart and listen only to Truth.
Remember the promises that ring true even in the storm.
“You brought me back to life. You are the morning in my night.”
—listen to Rebuilder by Carrollton