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  • Stacy Sanchez

Parenting Again?! When Love Isn't Enough

We accept the love we think we deserve. – Stephen Chbosky


“I cut myself because it takes the pain from my heart and transfers it to my arm. It’s easier to focus on my arm instead of my heart.” That was my 14-year-old grandson’s response when I begged him to stop hurting himself.


My heart broke for him as I gently stroked his scar-pitted arm. He was my first grandchild, and I was head over heels in love with him. I remembered those precious, chubby baby arms. He had the cutest rolls. I loved blowing raspberries in the crook of his elbow to hear him giggle. But time and trauma have taken their toll, and his arms no longer show the promise of what his life could be, but the pain life can bring.


I was angry—angry at my daughter for the evil she had inflicted upon him, angry at the pain he, in turn, inflicted upon others and himself, and angry at myself because I couldn’t stop his pain. Even if I screamed at the top of my lungs, “I love you! Please stop,” and held him tight to show I cared, it wouldn’t have been enough to stop him from hurting himself. His pain was too deep.


The Difficulty of Stepping In


My husband and I have been raising our grandson since he was seven when he was taken from his mother and, without warning, dropped at our doorstep by the Department of Child Services. It’s been a tough road for all of us. A child should never have to wonder why a parent wants drugs and alcohol more than him. A grandparent can step in and love them with all they have, but it never takes the place of a mother’s love or fills the hole left in an abandoned child’s heart.


The Fine Line Between Help and Harm


We’ve all had people in our lives who we couldn’t love the hurt away. We support them. We love them. We beg and plead to God on their behalf. We help in any way possible. We even become their “White Knight,” trying to save them from themselves. There’s a fine line between helping and enabling.


It’s tricky when you are raising a grandchild. They’re not adults, and we are responsible for their well-being. So how do you love them but not take responsibility for their actions?


Letting Go and Letting God


It’s difficult to watch a young person in pain—especially a grandchild whom you love. But we must let them experience their emotions and feelings. Loving a child doesn’t mean you don’t allow them to experience the pain they feel. Love is getting the best help you can find to teach them how to process the pain healthily. Love can also mean knowing when their issues are more significant than you can handle and letting them go. If we become resentful because they have not improved, no matter how hard we’ve tried, it may be because we believe we can control how they feel, and our love has become manipulative.


My grandson’s pain is more profound than I know how to handle. He needs in-depth, professional treatment. I’ve tried desperately, but my love cannot heal him. As a follower of Jesus, I know His love is more than enough. So, I let go. I let go of the notion that I can do one more thing to love him to health. I let him go across the country, and out of my control, to a facility where he can get help. And, most importantly, I let him go to the arms and heart of Jesus. He is the only one whose love can and will heal us. He’s promised peace for our troubled hearts.


“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27


Lord Jesus, I pray today for all caring for someone who is hurting. Father, we try hard to help, but our love isn’t enough. Let us know when our helping has become enabling. Remind us that You alone can heal and restore those we love. And when we must let go, please remind us of the peace only You can bring. This peace You give may not look like what we expect, but we trust You with our loved ones and with our hearts.

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