Monday, October 02, 2006

Collateral Damage (Part One of ?)

When you love a wayward child your heart is torn to pieces. No matter the circumstances of your prodigal’s choices: drugs, alcohol, mental illness, jail, prison, lies or deception; each is a dart that further poisons your emotions, changing your core worldview. No matter how much hope you cling to, the day-to-day experiences of your reality chip away at the very core of everything you hold dear and sacred. Family, friends, faith—all are encumbered with the weight of your burden.

The energy required to stay connected with those around you is depleted with every misspoken word, every misunderstood conversation, and every misinformed statement of concern. Don’t misunderstand; the damage the choices your wayward child makes are clear to all who know them. It’s the collateral damage, the invisible ramifications of your prodigal's choices that weave through your heart with a vengeance; spouse against spouse, sibling against sibling, friend against friend. Perhaps the most damaging consequence is the insult of injury done to your faith.

Oh, the irony of such a statement. While you remain firmly intact, standing in the gap for your loved one, your faith falters. Questions become accusations, hope becomes despair, and your faith becomes fodder for the enemy. How long the wait, Oh Lord? I have stood on your Word, on your very Promises; where is my answer, Oh God? Why don’t you hear me? I feel so abandoned in this journey; why can’t you reach my son?

While you shore yourself up, shaming yourself for even doubting, the conflict enters another sacred area of your heart—your home. After all, who else really understands the battle you are waging? The very people who have been your life source become the enemy. No one else is safe enough to share such raw emotions. Within this state of vulnerability, each family member copes differently—while one is facing the issues head on, the other is resting in denial. While one is practicing grace, the other is unable to tolerate, yet, one more excuse. Stretched beyond reasonable limits, creative parenting exposes foundational limits of forbearance that could never possibly have been discussed in any pre-marital counseling sessions. Every attempt to reach out is squelched, receiving only shame and embarrassment for not producing solutions. With each attempt, your perception affirms: this is your battle alone to fight. This isolation causes a family in struggle to collapse on itself.

Still, no matter how certain the family is that others will not understand—after all—history has shown just that—the family needs support. This is a heavy burden to bear alone. The family spirals into a shared depression, which of course, is desperately addressed once again, by itself. Even though the prodigal’s family may be diligently trying to live in the joy of life, it is collapsing under the pressure of the collateral damage of the prodigal’s journey. Individually and corporately, the color of their world has been tainted. Short of the miracle of the prodigal's return, will the brilliant hues of their hearts ever be restored?


Dawn said...

This is so well put, as usual. You are an amazing thinker and writer. We felt isolated for so long. People knew there was something wrong, but we were ashamed to share it. Being able to talk about it after it could not be hidden any longer was the most freeing thing ever.

Vicki said...

Hey, friend. I've missed hearing from you. Came here to say hello and was so blessed by the testimonies playing in the background. The tears are welling up already. Your words move me, too, for having a prodigal is so painful.

I'm thinking also today of families who have prodigals of the heart...meaning, they are not outwardly rebelling in any way that the eye can see, but their hearts are far, far from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Please pray for my prodigals.

love & hugs,

Anonymous said...

Please see my blog and pray for Matthew. He is dying and he is my son.

Anonymous said...

Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) said...

Oh girl - I am so sorry. Don't you just wish you could duct tape him to a chair and refuse to let him to go until he changes deeply and forever?!?! That is how I feel sometimes about free will. Forget it - let's forego free will and just get everyone safe and sound to heaven!!!!Sotp letting them detroy their own lives! Oh well - I guess that is why God is in charge and not me.

MugwumpMom said...

This was an amazing post, and I know it well! You said it so well. Thank you. And yes, Dawn is correct..we all need to talk about it more. Bring light into the darkness and speak of the "things yet unseen" with hope. I was hinting at this very thing in my own post about "patience endurance" the other day. Both my son and husband are prodigal...we are kindred's for sure!

Lisa said...

OH wow. This is the part that scares me about parenting. When they grow older and can make their own decisions. And what happens when they make alot of the wrong ones. My heart goes out to you and your family. I hope he finds his way "home" sooner than later.

Brony said...

That was very powerful. You are a very gifted writer.

Faith is an interesting subject. In fact, I just posted on my own only moments ago.

Strength comes from not only your faith, but also from within. While it may appear to be low or lost, it is there.

He will always be home with you, even when he is not. Hold on to that and take comfort in knowing that is journey is his alone. I know that is hard to hear, but it is something that many need to come to terms with. There are lessons that we don't always understand.
(I hope that made some sense. I am tiered. Thanks for the nice post on my blog)

tam said...

My heart breaks for grieves with you and yet I know it is a place I know not and all I could do is pray and listen with, for and to you.

I pray that a day soon will come when you can share of the party that is still going on as a result of the prodigal coming home, being washed clean and new robes put on his shoulders.

God is showing me lately just how crucial it is for me to be praying now against any such temptations and choices placed before my be teaching them as much as humanely possible to rely on Christ now so that the foundation will be there later...

(please be certain I am in no way implying that you did not do these things-nor do I believe this can prevent all straying but I do believe it won't hurt to do this)

I feel like I have so much to gain from you...I am blessed to have been found by you.

MugwumpMom said...

Saw you comment on Abba on my blog a little late. If you want to know more about it, I post about it and the 12 steps over at which you can link to from my regular blog...the link on my sidebar is called MyHealingPages. I'm presently posting the typical characteristics of adults from abusive or chaotic childhoods, and usually post one characteristic every two weeks or so.
Have a great day.

Prodigal said...

One of the most heartbreaking moments for me as a prodigal now returned was when my mom said this to me:

"There was a part of my heart I could never give to God completely because of what happened to you."