Freedom to Choose Love and Happiness

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. A day filled with laughter and love. It’s a day when starry-eyed lovers gaze deeply into each other’s soul. It’s a day, or maybe a memory, when youngsters make big red construction paper hearts covered in glitter and can’t wait to take them to their mothers after school. A day with Cupids, and candy, and….wait, Allison, it’s time for a reality check.

Reality…I remember when my son, Christopher, was in elementary school and would make those construction paper hearts with a sweet message and his name scrawled in big letters inside. I still have one nestled in tissue paper in my memory box, close to the cotton-ball Santa Claus fashioned on a paper towel roll. Now, 30+ years later, he is locked behind cold steel bars awaiting trial. It may be years before I can wrap him in a loving embrace. Valentine’s Day doesn’t hold the same sweet, warm feelings that it once did.

I’m sure there are other moms reading this column who can relate to this—moms who have an adult child who may be breaking their heart rather than filling it with warm fuzzy feelings. But Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a day we would just rather move beyond. It doesn’t have to be a reminder of what once was and what might never be again.

Although the choices our adult children make may break our heart – the fact is that God’s love is healing. This may sound amazingly simple—and in fact it is. Simple yet oh so difficult to grasp at times. When we make the decision to stop living their life of drama and hand our adult child over to God and allow him to begin healing our own broken heart, this is when real hope and healing can begin – for us as parents as well as perhaps for the adult child as well.

It’s easy for us to fall into habits that are controlled by our sinful, worldly nature. Habits such as dwelling on the sadness, thinking about all of the “what if I had done this,” or “if only I had done that” feelings. What purpose does dwelling on the negative stuff of life serve? Don’t we have a choice how we think? Is someone else inside our brain making us think, feel, or behave a way contrary to what we’d like?

Not likely.

The sub-title for the God Allows U-Turns book series is this: “The choices we make change the story of our life.” Another amazingly simple concept—and yet all too often ignored.

Take heed, dear reader, we do have choices. Lots of them. We have a choice how we will respond to situations and circumstances and yes, even to holidays. We have a choice to walk the talk of a Christian—to make our faith more than a Sunday sermon or a passage from Scripture. We have a choice to see that proverbial glass as half full—not half empty. We have a choice who we will serve…God or the never-ending list of reasons and excuses for why our life is such a mess.

God loves us. He loves us so much that he gave his only son to die for us on the cross at Calvary. He is in control and he has a plan for our life and for the life of everyone we love.

This Valentines Day I can choose to make everyone around me miserable because my heart aches for my son. Or, I can choose to walk in the light of the Lord who loves me just as I am—who loves me in spite of who I am—and who loves me because of who I am.

Yes, my only son is in jail. Yes, this breaks my heart. However, I have a choice to make. Will I dwell on the pain? Will I cast a shadow of remorse on everyone around me—sharing my anguish so everyone in my sphere can feel the pain? It’s my choice.

Yes, my only son is in jail. Is it mere happenstance that this is also the month my newest book releases—my book on setting boundaries with adult children? As a baby boomer mother, grandmother, friend, and wife—I pray daily to better understand how vital my choices are not only to my own happiness but to the happiness of those around me. How am I choosing to live?

Along with having a son in jail, I also have dear friends and family who care about me. I have business success on the horizon that I have dreamed about for years. I have a loving God who continues to open doors as I remain focused on him. I have a faith that grows stronger with every day. And I have a loving husband at home who will do his best to make this Valentines Day a special day. And, I fully intend to let him. It’s my choice.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
– Romans 12:18 (NIV)

©2008, Allison Bottke

Releasing in February from Harvest House Publishers: Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children
Six Steps to Hope and Healing for Struggling Parents
by Allison Bottke.
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