I have been a Christian for most of my life and believe that God answers prayer, even if the answer is not what I want.
My daughter has been estranged from our family for over 5 years. We have not seen her or heard from her. I have prayed for her and for our broken relationship to be repaired.
I ask God to help me accept the situation and give me His peace, but it hasn't happened.
Am I praying the wrong way?
/ / / /
Dear Heartbroken ~
I am so sorry for the loss of your daughter. I assure you that there is no wrong way to pray, that God hears our hearts even when our cries are wordless. Jesus knew the pain of broken relationships. He grieves with you. Yes, He does.
There is so little to say that wouldn't sound trite or simplistic in the face of your daughter's choice to walk away. A few thoughts that may offer you some comfort ...
> an unmailed letter
Sometimes writing a letter to the one who has caused such pain can be a huge release. Find yourself a stack of loose leaf paper, a quiet place, a big box of tissues, and give yourself a good chunk of time.
Share your happiest memories and spell out all the reasons you love her. Talk about the dreams you had for your future as a family. Confess any mistakes you've made and ask her for forgiveness.
And then write about all the ways she has hurt you and your family by her choices. Spell it out in detail. Let it fly. Uncensored. All of it.
And then the hard part.
Tell her that you're sick and tired of the grief and are done trying to understand or fix or even accept the situation. And that you're releasing her into God's care.
This is excruciating. But it also can be very freeing.
Don't mail this. Have a little burning ceremony outside or put it through the shredder. If it would help, invite a loved one to be there with you for support. And then go and do something good for yourself.
> the prayer that never fails
In Jan Karon's delightful fictional Mitford series, Father Tim often prays the prayer that never fails, 'Thy will be done.' Prayed with hands lifted high, these four words of Jesus are truly freeing, because we release our expectations and hopes and grief up to Him and allow Him to do what He does best ... be the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.
> a quick release
Every time your daughter wanders through your heart or crosses your mind, choose to show yourself grace and release her immediately back up to God. Refuse to allow endless scenarios to play in your mind. Refuse to beat yourself up with regrets and woulda / coulda / shouldas.
Like Abraham, you're laying your Isaac on the altar. This, your living sacrifice, might be the hardest task you'll ever face. You might never know why you've had to live with such heartache. But somehow, by His unyielding grace, His presence can be enough. He promises that His power is made perfect in your weakness.
And when we are weak and grieving and weary, He is strong.
> discovering the invitation
God is always inviting us to something deeper, stronger, more substantial. 'What are You inviting me to in the middle of this, Lord?' is a continued prayer that just might begin to turn the corner for you.
Please know that I'm praying ~
/ / /
Would you please leave an encouraging word for Heartbroken?
And if you'd leave a question for me,
I'll do my best to respond in a future Dear Linda post.
Or you can email me