How can I help? We get this question so often, and it is such a blessing! Today I want to share with you two things dealing with “how to help”: first, a list of ways to help parents dealing with Reactive Attachment Disorder (with which, by the way, our oldest two were formally diagnosed in April. More on that later, I hope.)
Ten Ways to Support a RAD Mom, which I found at Marty’s Musings
Also, I wanted to share with you a way that a friend reached out that really blessed me, and I think it’s applicable to any situation in which you are trying to help someone, regardless of the particular circumstance. After I sent a quick “we’re in over our heads/we are probably heading for inpatient treatment” email, she responded with this:
I am reading Focus on the Family looking for "what to say when your friend’s child is in trouble", but like you've said before there's just not much that fits this exact situation. V's behavior is not your fault. All the work, time, energy, prayer, intervention that you have poured into him God sees and knows, and it does improve V's chances of turning his life around, humanly speaking. Trust the God in Ephesians 1, who gives you every spiritual blessing, everything you need to face this and keep parenting B, S, and E. The God who works all things according to the counsel of his will, because we are predestined according to his purpose.
Maybe it’s just me, but something in particular resonated with me from this email. She went searching for wise words to say because the situation is unfamiliar and complicated. And then, she encouraged me with the gospel. In the end, the articles she found didn’t contain magic words that fixed anything, but in taking the time to seek wisdom, she was able to find words that really were encouraging.
How often have I found myself at a loss for words yet wanting to encourage someone in a tragedy? Just last week, I opened my email at 5 a.m. (dumb!) to find funeral arrangements for a fellow church member’s husband who died unexpectedly and news that the adoptive mom who encouraged me last month was now facing a runaway situation of her own. That’s a lot of broken hearts at 5 a.m. I had to walk away from the emails and beg God for the words to say, because I absolutely was at a loss. And ultimately, He pointed me to the gospel in Isaiah 53:
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
In our broken world, I’m guessing that you are familiar with suffering, whether your own or that of someone close to you. When you don’t know what to say, I encourage you to do two things: search for wisdom from knowledgeable sources, and speak the truth of the gospel. May our words of encouragement reflect the God of hope and of peace that surpasses all understanding.