Dear Lucy: My heart is just breaking. My daughter has been married for six years to a man that I begged her not to marry. He is just trifling, he's cheated on her, never held a steady job and now he's left her with four children, ages 1-6. I am also very angry. I am too old to raise kids but I know I will have to help her out. I wanted to retire this year and now I don't see how I can. I am a widow and raised my three children by myself. I just did not want this for her. Every time I talk to her, I just want to scream and ask her how she could be so stupid! Help.
– Signed: Just Mad
Dear Just Mad: So many women and men at retirement age are faced with dilemmas like yours. Far more than any of us would like to see or hear about. I pray every night for my sons to stay with their wives, help raise their children, endure and learn happiness as a conscious choice. As I watch them as couples and parents go through the many lessons that they call to themselves, I have learned some things myself.
Mostly, I have learned how to do all in my power to stay out of their business! And let me tell you, when you have been where they are and can predict the future with great accuracy, it is hard to keep your mouth shut! But then I remember that there is no danger of saying the wrong thing to God, so I tend to take it all to Him and let Him tell me what to say or do or help me to be still.
So here are a few things that work for me.
1. Remember that you too have probably been stupid on occasion. Stupid is what takes us into learning. Sometimes the lessons get harder and harder because we stubbornly refuse to learn the lessons that lift us higher. But here is the thing about grace; the lesson will repeat itself over and over until we learn what is essential for our soul's growth. It's her lesson and not yours. You are called to instruct her in wisdom if she will hear it. But you cannot make her listen. Ask God to reveal how her circumstances hold a lesson for you and what that lesson is.
2. I can remember falling on my knees in petition for one of my children for three whole years. Finally, one time I was praying and heard the Lord say to me, "Will you trust him to me? Will you get up this time and not pick him up?" I thought I was hearing things! But the Lord spoke again and said, "Will you trust Me to do it My way?" I got up, left my child with his true Father, never picked him back up and slept all night for the first time in years. I also remembered my own mother telling me that we had all prospered on her praying! So, my sister, pray with the expectancy of being heard, get up and leave it unless you get instructions from on high to do something in particular.
3. What if behind all that judgment and anger was simply all the fear that you are holding for your daughter and your grandchildren's future? Fear is always in back of anger and judgment. We judge and condemn others to defend our fear and hold onto it. Of course you are afraid of the pain she and her children may endure. But your judgments and anger will not change circumstances. It can only change you – making you become embittered, sad, depressed, afraid, suspicious and more. And stop blaming yourself. Underneath, there is always the fear that there must be something we did or did not do as parents to have children who behave so stupidly.
4. Be a loving support for your daughter if she can receive it. Let her know that you will help to the extent of reasonableness. Reasonableness means that you will not give up your joy for her. You will have a life and you will not do things that leave you feeling angry and resentful because you did them. Do what you can for her and those children out of a kind and loving heart. Hold your tongue and don't bad mouth her in front of her kids. Demand respect and give respect. Take it to the Lord.
5. Take it to the Lord. Pray without ceasing. Psalms 121:2-4 tells us, "My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold he who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep." God is not nodding or sleeping on the job. The same God that keeps you also keeps your daughter and grandchildren.
Love and blessings,
(For help with the feelings that get in the way of prayer and peace of mind, get Lucy's new book, "BE NOT ANXIOUS." Order it directly from her at 901-907-0260 or go to her web site www.heartworks4u.com.)