Do you remember the movie Groundhog Day?
Phil (Bill Murray), a weatherman, is set to cover the yearly emergence of the groundhog from its hole. He gets caught in a blizzard that he didn’t predict and finds himself trapped in a time warp. He is doomed to relive the same day over and over again until he gets it right.
Right now my life feels like the movie.
Eleven years after our oldest adopted daughter went into a residential facility for sexually abused children, we are facing a similar scenario for our youngest adopted son. He was adopted at 15 months and even though I believe we’ve done everything possible to love and nurture him, it is his wish to no longer live with us. Because of his recent actions an out of home placement in a residential facility is what we are seeking.
Our hearts break at the familiarity, unwanted decisions and brokenness in our situation.
Many years ago the family therapist that has worked with our adopted kids for eleven years asked me a disconcerting question.
“What if your life will always be in crisis because it’s God’s will for you? What if your ministry is to help others who are suffering in the same way?”
She stopped me dead in my tracks with thoughts I didn’t want to face. Yet God knows my heart’s desire has always been to help others find hope in the pain. The idea that I might always be in crisis scared me half to death.
I’m glad to say there have been seasons of rest in between yet we are again facing a family crisis.
No one goes through life unscathed. Whether you’re experiencing a family death, job loss, unwanted health news or struggling with depression, you are not alone. Your experience is not unique to this world and my prayer is that somehow I can encourage you to walk through your trial with a few tools to help you survive a crisis.
It seems people always say, “I can’t do anything else but pray.” As a woman of faith, this should be my go to tool for coping in the midst of stress and strife. Even when I can’t find the words to say I know “the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26)
Recently we drew strength from like minded believers and friends gathering around us providing a hedge of prayer as we spent 2 1/2 days wondering where our teenaged son had gone. By God’s grace he returned unharmed.
When our son was in the ER undergoing a thorough psychiatric evaluation I literally felt like my chest was so heavy I couldn’t breathe. Since heart disease runs in my family I was already scheduled for an echo stress test just to make sure my heart is healthy and strong. Unfortunately I had to cancel it. While all the recent stress hasn’t been easy, I figured if I did have a heart attack, at least I was at the right place!
Breathing techniques and clearing your mind for even a few moments can help with feelings of panic and fear.
Take care of yourself
You can’t fill someone else’s cup when yours is empty. Many times on this parenting journey I have had to choose to walk away from a need when I had nothing left to give.
I had to go to the source of my true strength, and that was my faith in God and His plan for my life.
I had to CHOOSE to let go of some things and activities that were overwhelming.
Make life as simple as you can.
Ask for help and accept it
We have always taught our kids that a smart person asks for help. Fear of rejection and judgment can keep us from reaching out.
During our crisis I reached out on Facebook for help finding our son and was overwhelmed by the response.
A blogger friend sent us a tray of sandwiches from a local restaurant.
An anonymous adoptive mom sent me a note and a gift card.
A company I’m building a relationship with sent me beautiful orchids and blew me away with their generosity and compassion.
Have courage and let others know specifically how they can help.
Talk about your feelings
If there are any men out there I’m sure I just lost them with this step! I certainly don’t want to pigeonhole an entire population but the men in my life struggle to express their feelings during difficult times. As my husband and I have worked through issues in our marriage he is learning to express “I feel” statements.
IT IS NOT EASY for him. Me? I could talk all day about them! I’ve been therapeutically parenting my adopted children for years and helping them through this process. I totally see how hard it is for others, but I also know firsthand the relief when those feelings are allowed to be set free.
Feelings are neither right nor wrong. They are just a barometer of what’s going on inside.
Get professional help
There was a point many years ago when I had one parent in rehab (back surgery) and one in the hospital. My parents went from there to a nursing home and I was responsible for all the decision making.
At the same time our oldest adopted daughter made false allegations against us, and CPS, police, social workers, doctors and therapists were trying to decide where the truth was in our situation.
I was being pulled apart like Gumby and thought I would break.
When this current crisis started escalating my body responded in the way it usually does, with migraines. I knew I would need some help beyond the normal remedies and made a doctor’s appointment. This isn’t my “first rodeo” so I’m aware of the long road we have ahead of us. I was on an anti-depressant for about five years during the very worst part of the struggle with our oldest adopted daughter. Knowing the intense level of stress the next few weeks will bring I went ahead and asked for a prescription. I know it’s not weakness to accept professional help but it’s still hard!
Tim and I are also seeing our family therapist to help us process and survive this latest crisis.
I am no less strong because I recognize I’m not able to carry this burden alone.
No, I don’t mean pack up and head for Hawaii (although that sounds great!) but get up out of your chair and walk around.
Stretch. Let go of those muscles that have been clenched for days. You don’t have to go run a mile. Just move more than you did yesterday. If this seems impossible find a buddy. Take a risk and ask somebody at work to walk on your lunch hour.
Instead of meeting a friend for coffee go to a park and breathe in the beauty of nature.
Count your blessings
Although it may not seem this way right now, there is someone, somewhere in the world, that has it worse than you. We get tunnel vision when life is so hard and it takes every ounce of will to just get out of bed.
I remember some of the hardest days when I wept in the shower because I didn’t know how I could find the energy to finish and dry myself off.
IT WAS BAD. But I survived and so will you.
You are dearly loved and cherished because you are a child of God. “Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)
Do something for someone else
I know this is counter to the world’s message of every man for himself. However, when I look for opportunities to serve I find meaning and purpose in the midst of difficult circumstances.
Which one of the above suggestions will you do? Pick one and JUST DO IT. There’s no magic wand to fix your life or possibly even avert your crisis, but knowing you are not alone will help.