Helping women of faith find hope and healing after emotional and spiritual abuse

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How Do I Trust God with My Kids?

by | Oct 29, 2019 | Articles, Healing from Spiritual Abuse, Parenting | 7 comments

“My children are so damaged from living in a home of conflict and then one year of an ugly divorce. How can I trust God to be a protector and a shield about me? One of my daughters has been sexually assaulted while making terrible choices. One is at a Christian college and loves God, but is frequently overcome by anxiety. She is the one who refuses to have contact with her father. The youngest lives with me, and she’s not sure if she believes in God or Jesus. She doesn’t think being a Christian makes a difference. One of my biggest reasons for staying married was for the protection of my children. I wanted them to see that love and faithfulness wins. I sang hymns over them and loved them the best I knew how. I sincerely believed God would come through and work a miracle for our family. Instead, I watched in slow motion as this train wreck of a marriage rolled over the people I loved most.”

“I didn’t keep my children safe from abuse. I had to move them out of the home they loved. I acted completely out of control at times. They had a front row seat for abuse, and then they got to experience their dad’s verbal abuse personally. Of course, they normalize that. I so love my children. If I had any inkling that I would be bringing them up in the home they were brought up in I would have remained single for life.”

“Two of my older kids won’t speak to me anymore. The pain is blinding sometimes. How do I deal with this?”

This is a very tender subject, isn’t it? As a mother, I know that if anyone wants to touch me where it hurts most, it is in this area of my children. My most fervent hopes, dreams, and prayers have circled around my children.

I believe so much damage has been done because of religious lies. Read the above quotes again. Can you spot the lies these women were told?

  • God will never let anything bad happen to you if He loves you.
  • Your kids can make horrible choices and never suffer the consequences of those choices.
  • If you are a Christian who loves God, you won’t ever struggle with anxiety or depression or other mental health issues.
  • If you love God and do everything right, your kids will also love God and do everything right.
  • If you do everything right, God will do miracles for you.
  • If you do everything right, your children will never experience abuse.
  • You should be perfect and respond perfectly to abuse.
  • You should know everything about the future and make perfect choices based on your foreknowledge.
  • You can’t have a joyful, fulfilling life unless you have the love and support of your children.
  • If your husband and children don’t rise up and call you “blessed,” you failed. You failed them, and you failed God.

All lies. But lies we’ve been steeped in for decades, right? It’s hard to rewire stories we’ve been told for so long, but that’s exactly what we need to do in order to make sense of our mess and find peace.

Here’s the truth:

  • Bad things happen to everyone alive, and everyone who is alive right now will be dead within 100 years. Even if someone gets a “miracle cure,” it will only last until it doesn’t, and they, too, will get sick again and die. Or they will die in an accident.
  • Our kids are not extensions of us. They are their own individual selves, and they get the same opportunities to make their way in this world that we did. Not all of them will make their way well. They have their own journey that is separate from ours.
  • God loves our children as much as He loves us, and God knows and loves them better than we ever could or will.
  • Many, many human beings who are putting their hope in God struggle with depression and anxiety for different reasons. We live in a broken world, and we are a broken people. Jesus loves us in the middle of that.
  • Many faithful people have children who are unfaithful. Even children who grow up in loving homes free of abuse make rotten choices for their lives sometimes.
  • Almost every human alive will experience some kind of abuse at some point in their lives. Your children aren’t exempt.
  • Nobody is perfect, and nobody responds well to abuse. Nobody.
  • You aren’t God, and you don’t know the future, and you never will. You will make mistakes because you are human.
  • Your joy depends on two things – your faith in a God who loves you and your ability to accept yourself and take care of yourself just the way you are. It doesn’t depend on anyone or anything else.
  • Abusive husbands and children will never rise up and call anyone blessed. So if that’s what you’ve got, kiss that dream good-bye. It has nothing to do with you. God calls you blessed in Christ, and you can take that to the bank and LIVE.

Now let’s talk about the grief of watching our children suffer because of abuse. It hurts. It’s one of the most excruciating experiences anyone can go through in life, so if you are hurting and angry and exhausted and full of deep sorrow, you are normal. And you are not alone.

Below is an excellent video that depicts a young man digging and digging in hopes of pleasing his father. But he discovered that what pleased his father most was for him to LIVE and LOVE LIVING TO THE FULLEST.

This applies to your children, too. I used to pray my kids would do great things for God. Now I pray they know His great love for them.

Just like I had to break away from digging, I also had to break away from begging and begging in fear and anguish for God to take care of my kids. Do I still do that? Yes, but I do it less and less. More and more when I pray for them, I am simply committing them to Him and trusting Him to love them to Himself. Trusting the blood of Jesus to be enough for them as I have put my hope in that it’s enough for me.

Instead of showing them how to dig by modeling what being a “good digger” is like, I’m trying to show them what it means to jump off docks into beautiful rivers and bask in the love and faithfulness of God.

A while ago I had a conversation with one of my older kids about church. This child doesn’t go anymore, and I refuse to force him to go. I don’t go either, most of the time. But I told him about my relationship with Jesus – how it is more real and vibrant than ever. How I believe it is okay to take a break from church. How going to church is NOT the sign of a Jesus-lover. There are so many folks who would never miss church who don’t love Jesus like that. I told him I just wanted him to know how much Jesus loved him, and that when I was gone, if there was one thing I wanted him to remember about me, it was that I loved my children and wanted them to revel in God’s love for them.

I told him it didn’t matter if he went to a Christian or secular college, Jesus loved him and would be with him every step of the way.

I told him it didn’t matter if he got married or stayed single. Jesus loved him and would be with him every step of the way.

I told him it didn’t matter if he failed miserably or was a success. Jesus loved him and would be with him every step of the way.

I told him I believed even though he might not be sure about God, God was sure about him, and God was powerful enough to keep him through all the doubt and fear.

I noticed his step was a bit lighter when we got home. I planted seed of hope. I believe God will do something with that.

Life is made up of lows and highs. Failure and success. Death and life. Sickness and healing. Despair and hope. Abuse and recovery. Weakness and strength. Loss and victory. It is this way for every creature that lives and moves and breathes here. It is for you. And it is for your children. So don’t be surprised when it rains. And don’t be surprised when the sun comes out. That’s life.

What is our responsibility in the midst of all this? It is simply to love. To love our Creator and to love and nurture what He has created. We do it in the darkness. We do it in the light. But we do it.

The hope I’ve had since I first found out I was pregnant for the first time was that one day I would stand before Jesus holding the hands of my kids, and we would be laughing and free before Him. I don’t know how to get there. I can’t make it happen.

But He does. And He can.

And I’m putting all my eggs in His basket.

Journal

  1. Make a list of the things you cannot control when it comes to the lives of your children. Example: “I cannot control what happens when they are with their dad.” “I cannot make my oldest son understand and come back to be in relationship with me.”
  2. Make a list of the things you CAN control. Example: “When they come home from their dad’s house, I can listen and empathize with their experiences. I can validate them.” “I can pray for my oldest son and trust that God is working in his heart, and it will take time. Perhaps many years of time.”
  3. When your anxious thoughts turn to your children and your fears and sorrows over them, pray out loud, “Jesus, I have no power, but You do. I commit this child to You. When I think of Your love for people when you lived here, I am comforted that You will love my child that way. Keep my child in Your love. I don’t trust my child, but I will trust You.” And then move forward having committed them to the only One Who can save to the uttermost.

This is one of the 120 lessons in the Flying Free Education and Support group curriculum. If you are interested in learning and growing through lessons like this, hop over HERE for more information.

Fly Free,

Natalie Hoffman

Heavenly Identity from The Branch Corvallis on Vimeo.

7 Comments

  1. Loretta

    Natalie,
    Are the introductory comments to the article about your personal story?

    Reply
      • Loretta

        Thank you.

        Reply
  2. Shatteredheart

    How do you reconcile your own experience of abuse with what your children experienced? How do I acknowledge both my truth of what I lived with in a 20-year abusive marriage while also acknowledging my son’s truth of having gone through trauma of living with an abusive father?
    My son who is almost 28 has finally opened up after all these years (his father walked out on us in ’09) about the trauma he suffered as a child and blames me for some of it. Mainly he blames me for not leaving and says that my decision to stay became his default decision to be there, and even said to me that child services should have taken him out of that home years ago. :'(

    Yes, I stayed and perhaps like many mothers, I stayed because I truly felt it was the better option than separating or divorcing which would have given their father at least partial custody. I felt staying to be the only way to actually protect them and honestly, I believed I could make that marriage work. I believed in marriage and felt divorce was wrong.

    I truly wasn’t the best mother because of what I suffered through. I was too absent, emotionally and at times, physically, and I while I truly tried to be there for my children, my son obviously sees things differently.

    But I love my boys with all my heart and have never once done anything to intentionally hurt them. Yes, I’ve made mistakes and carry far more guilt and regret than I should. I try to lay it down and let God take it away, but then I feel even more guilty because of my son’s hurt and anger towards me and feel I deserve to carry all that weight as payment for how I failed my children.

    Reply
    • Natalie Hoffman

      I’m so sorry you are living with this kind of pain. BOTH you and your son have suffered abuse. You did what you thought was best at the time given the resources and understanding you had. Nobody parents perfectly, and abuse destroys our ability to parent well. It just does. It adds a layer of trauma and emotional damage that spills over onto everything we do. There isn’t anything you can do to change the past, but just as you want to have compassion on your son for what he went through, you need to have compassion on yourself for what you went through as well. Advocating for yourself and healing from the trauma you’ve endured will help you move forward, and hopefully one day your son, who is now an adult, will do the same. I pray your relationship with him will one day be restored.

      Reply
  3. Venice Liston

    Thank you so much for this I have my eldest son who has lived the gay lifestyle as a confessing christian he now has HIV Aids . he said he has been celibate for a few years and is following Jesus but he is very bi polar as well he is 39. My daughter walked away from God but stopped partying so much she is now 35 she is single no children married divorced . Two nieces i raised one ok the other left home now at 21 and has decided to walk away from God. My other son who is 31 is walking good with God has been a wonderful son .. My youngest son 18 has some issues my husband babys him and puts him first before me. I am not separated or divorced but the kids have seen that our relationship has not been always so great. This message touched me greatly and i love the video thank you for sharing sometimes the weight of the guilt of the kids walking away is so great . I have prayed for them since they all were babies .. My heart breaks and aches for them but all i can do is pray now they are all adults .. Im 58 .

    Reply
    • Natalie Hoffman

      I believe God is greater than our brokenness. I believe the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is powerful enough to save our families one day. Whether here on earth or after our lives are over. I’m trusting God – nothing else. Love wins. Love will always win in the end.

      Reply

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