When a child chooses the path of destruction or addiction, parents are left to face their worst fears of letting their child go. Dena Yohe describes her emotional journey of facing her fears as her daughter, Renee, was struggling with addiction and drifting away from her identity in Christ.
“For any parent, not knowing if their child is going to survive is their worst nightmare. When I was able to begin to face my worst fears, which of course the worst was that she would die, it stripped them of their power and it set me free.”
She reflects back on her process of surrender,
“I was so afraid to really look at it and say some of those things out loud. I even made a list. When I put the things out there and then just gave them to God and said, ‘Ok, what if this does happen, what then?’ What I clearly sensed from Him was that, well, He would be with me and that was really all I needed to know. He would be with me and He would help me.”
Dena had to completely let go of the fear of losing her daughter and clinging onto God’s truth over her life. She shares from personal experience of what it’s like to cling to God when you have to let your child go.
“She had come home from her first time in rehab and decided she wasn’t done; which was horrifying to us because we knew done could mean dead, jail, institution, etc. We had to let her go because we supported her recovery 100%, but if she chose to use then that meant she was choosing to live somewhere else and she understood that.”
“Today she says that was the best and most loving thing that we ever did for her, to set that boundary, be clear and follow through.”
Letting go of the fear of losing Renee to addiction was a daily act of surrender for Dena, not just a one-time event. She recalls using a practical tool called a “God Box” that she learned from an Al-Anon support group,
“I took a little box that I just happened to have around the house, put a label on top of that said “My God Box,” and put a little notepad and pen nearby. When I was aware of feeling anxious or worried I thought about, ok what is it that I am worried about? I wrote it down on a piece of paper, folded it up, put it in that box and then I put the lid on it up on the shelf.
“That symbolized for me giving those things to God, putting them in His hands, because I had to surrender her, give her back to Him, into to His care and just trust him. It all came down to trust – trusting Him to help me cope with my fear.”
Dena Yohe has been a social worker, pastor’s wife, and Cru staff member. She is the mother of a formerly troubled daughter, Reneé Yohe. Reneé was the suicidal, addicted, depressed, self-harming girl whose situation led friends to start the well-known nonprofit To Write Love on Her Arms.Hope for hurting parents
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