I had another big physical challenge this week. I took a three and half day pickleball intensive camp. There were 8 players in the camp along with our instructors and we played pickleball for about 8 hours a day for 3 and half days, I am so exhausted. But I have to say, doing it with a single focus over a concentrated period of time has made me a better player than I would have been had I just kept doing what I was always doing. Sometimes when we really want to make a change, we have to invest in ourselves. My focus on improving my pickleball game this year is minor compared to some of the challenges and changes you all are trying to make, but it might be worth investing in a six week Walking in Core Strength Class coming up if you’re ready to build your own internal CORE strength. For more information click here.
Here is This Week’s Question: My daughter and her husband are coming up on 5 years of marriage. It’s been the longest, painful, 5 years of our lives. We have tried everything we know how to help, support, involve them, love them, and he just doesn’t want it. He said right from the beginning, “My goal is to break this family apart!” We are tired, hurt, angry, in pain, suffering from the death of a healthy relationship with our daughter, because he says, “I’m intimidated by you guys.”
We were a very tight, loving family until he and his family came along. We just saw her recently at a family wedding and it tore me up. Right now there is little or no communication. I’m feeling I just need to have her out of my life completely in order to heal. I’m struggling with that. Truthfully, it’s very close to that now. I love her so much, our only child for 12 years until our other daughter came along. I don’t know where to go with the pain. I’m questioning why God would allow this to happen and whether or not there even is a God. I’m hurting.
I’m still hanging on by a thread but barely. What more could God want me to learn and endure?
Answer: I am so sorry for what you’re going through.
It is so hard to trust God when we cannot understand why he allows certain things to happen in our lives. When it doesn’t make sense to us, we’re often tempted with the thought that God is not good or that there must not be a God at all. Click To Tweet
I hope you understand that in addition to having to deal with the pain of losing your daughter’s closeness with your family; you are in a real spiritual battle. Like Job in the Old Testament, you are struggling to understand why God would allow such hardship into your life. Please hear me. Theological truths don’t always bring a whole lot of comfort in the midst of our affliction, but nevertheless, they’re important so that we can at least understand a little bit of what might be going on.
The challenge that Satan posed to God regarding Job was this. “Job only loves you and serves you because you bless him. Take that away and he will curse you.” (See Job 1 for the story.) I think the same sort of challenge unfolds in many of our lives. When it seems to us that God is good, it is easy to love him, praise him, and trust him. But when life feeds us bitter herbs, we often don’t want anything to do with him and our faith and trust plummets.
It seems like you might be facing this kind of temptation. The enemy’s lies feel so much truer than God’s Word. Jeremiah, a prophet in the Old Testament is a good example of this struggle. In Lamentations 3 he is very angry with God. He feels like God has lied to him and used him and Jeremiah is angry, hurt and faithless. Yet in verse 21 of Chapter 3, he has a remarkable turnaround in the way he sees things. He says, “This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope.” Nothing in Jeremiah’s situation changed. What changed was his perspective but because of this shift, Jeremiah had hope.
I wish I had something to say to you that would turn this situation with your daughter around. I wish I had a way to help you make your son in law feel safe, or trust you or love your family. But honestly, I don’t. But what I can tell you is that your suffering has brought you into the afflictions of Christ. He knows what it feels like to offer love, fellowship, and closeness, and be rejected. He knows what it feels like to long for relationship and to be spurned. Read his heart-felt cry in Matthew when he says, “Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, I would have gathered you together …..but you would not.” (Matthew 23:37).
That said, in the meantime, how do you live with the very real reality of brokenness in your family? I would strongly urge you NOT to break off all contact with your daughter in order to deal with your own pain. I understand that seems easier right now but put yourself in her shoes for a moment. She has married a man who does not want her to have a close relationship with her family. That puts her in the middle and in a terrible dilemma. She has chosen to distance herself from you in order to make him feel better. That hurts, but if you turn around and distance yourself from her because of your pain, that only gives him more ammunition to justify his feelings.
I want to give you two other things to think about. In my counseling and coaching practice I’ve worked with many young women who needed to take a break from the closeness with their mother. And, as a mother of a young woman, I know what that would feel like to me so please don’t misunderstand what I’m about to say. But for a young woman to mature into who God made her to be, she may need to separate more from her mother than her mother would like. It may be good for the daughter even though it can be extremely painful for the mother. Mothers who were patient and affirming with that separation time, eventually reaped the benefit of a renewed relationship with their daughter. Mothers that couldn’t tolerate that distance and used guilt, manipulation, and/ or rejection to try to get their daughter to come closer only got more distant.
The second thing I want you to think about is that if your daughter is in an abusive/controlling relationship with her husband, his strategy would be to isolate her from her family and support system. If you distance yourself from her because of your pain, then whatever resource you could be for her or source of support you could provide her might be lost. I know it’s very tough for you to accept that you have minimal contact and a superficial relationship but at least you have some contact and that might be crucial for her to hang on to.
Lastly, right now your stronghold and refuge is God. God sees your pain and Jesus knows your heart. You can go to him and be raw and real. He gets your pain (Hebrews 4:15,16). Satan has already scored a victory when your son-in-law’s fear ruled him. Please don’t give Satan another victory by allowing him to rob you of your own faith and your peace. Although it feels like death right now, please trust God and choose life! (Deuteronomy 30: 19,20).
Friends, have you had an adult child distance themselves from you due to a controlling/abusive spouse? What helped your broken heart? How did you struggle with trusting God with the outcome?