When Loved Ones Hit the Road: How to Handle it When Someone You Love Can’t Handle Your Child’s Illness

     My 12 year old son, Seth, was born with multiple congenital heart defects.  His second (and, hopefully, last!) open-heart surgery took place almost 2 years ago.  During the whole process of getting Seth through his surgery and recovery, I was deeply hurt by a person I love. This person hadn’t called or visited during his hospital stay even though they lived near by.  I felt abandoned and shocked that they of all people would hit the road when they were needed most. It was around 2 weeks after surgery before they finally called to see how Seth was, and it was a strange call – something had come between us.

     I confess that I have struggled to forgive them. Some days I feel OK about them, then the next, my heart will be twisted by the little questions, “Why weren’t they there?” or “How could they do that to us?”

     The other morning I was reading the October 20 devotion from Our Daily Bread (Sept., Oct., Nov., 2009).  (Yes, I’m one of those people who has a collection of devotionals and doesn’t necessarily follow them in order.)Philip Yancey quotes Jean Vanier (founder of L’Arche for the developmentally disabled) who said, “Wounded people who have been broken by suffering and sickness ask for only one thing: a heart that loves and commits itself to them, a heart full of hope for them.”

     Wow. It was my light bulb moment. That explained exactly why I was so hurt and unforgiving. I wanted that, and thought I had it in this particular person. I wanted their commitment to my family and for them to be courageous enough to have hope with us.

     Now, I know that the theory is that as a Christian all we need is God.  That is true, but I believe He created us to be gifts to one another.  It’s the second part of the Great Commandment, “And to love others as you love yourself.”  That’s how important good relationships are.  We need that person we can talk to about anything.  We need someone to hug.  We need someone on our side.  Life is hard.  We need one another.

     So what do we do when our “go to” person has walked away?  How do we forgive?  And how do we ever have the courage to trust another human?
We go to our Father in prayer.  We tell Him of our hurt and ask Him to heal that hurt.  We ask Him to help us to truly forgive that person, and, honestly, it takes God at work in our hearts to be able to do that.  It isn’t something we can force, but, for our peace we need it.  We can recognize the old hurt, the anger, and the bitterness when it creeps up and immediately take it to God.  Give Him your heart to do His work in.  Then, we ask Him to help us find a true friend and to be able to trust again.  Simply put, we deal with the hurt WITH HIM.

     We also learn a lesson, that people do fail us, and someone probably will hurt us again.  That’s what humans do even without trying.  In Job 6: 14-15 we read, “A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.  But my brothers are as undependable as intermittent streams…”  (NIV). 

     That doesn’t give us much hope for true friendship or reliable relatives does it?  What can we do?  We choose to let God guard our hearts so that we can be willing to try friendship again.   Or, maybe, we need to start with asking Him to help us to even want a friend again.  
We also have to accept that we will have to keep going to God with this hurt until He has completely healed it.

     I know… my old hurt has been putting a squeeze on my heart this week.  It came as a surprise and the reminder of what I’ve lost makes me sad.  So, once again, I go to God.  I give Him my heart, ask for His help, and trust that He is working for my best. 

     I go to Him thankful also.  Friends and loved ones may come and go, but He will always walk this road with me.

Kimberly Ehlers invites you to join her ezine list “The Heart Connection” today.  Not only will you receive encouragement and hope for your child’s health directly in you e-mail box, but she has lots of free goodies for you when you sign up!

Last 5 Articles Added By Kimberly Ehlers

About Kimberly Ehlers

Kimberly is a Christian writer, speaker, and homeschooling mom whose heart is to encourage other Mom’s, like her, with children who have serious illnesses.

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