when someone I love makse bad choices

When someone you love makes bad choices, it wrecks you. Every part of your life is affected as you try to do damage control, fix it, cry, pick up the pieces, and pray. Life seems to stop momentarily with every crisis and you wonder how you got to this place again through no fault of your own. How do I know? Two adult members of my family are constantly getting in to trouble and I am watching it damage their lives and our family helplessly. On top of that, over a decade of ministry to hurting kids who struggle and fall and make terrible decisions has broken my heart a thousand times.

I am not a perfect person. I make wrong choices every day. We all do. This is not a self righteous rant of someone who thinks themself sinless. This is a love letter to all of you who are watching loved ones lost in addiction, alcoholism, crime, and mistreatment of others. You love them in spite of their mistakes and their bad choices are killing you inside. I am right there with you.

I don’t have answers. I just offer solidarity to you because I know how much it hurts. I’ve fought for car keys to prevent drunk driving. I’ve waited for apologies that never come with excuses arriving in their place. I know the embarrassment of watching a loved one’s face flash on the news as they are accused of a something terrible. I’ve hoped against hope that this time, this time, is the time that something changes. I’ve defended my loved ones for things I never thought I would defend.  I’ve watched my parents be devastated over and over again as they get yet another phone call from jail. I’ve enabled, made excuses, and kept my mouth shut when I should have told. I’ve cried out to God and asked Him to heal mental illness. I’ve prayed desperate prayers and refused to give up.

The past few months have been exceptionally hard, and I’ve felt the stress and worry in every part of my being. I won’t go in to details because of privacy and legal concerns, but it has been a really hard season. In the midst of it, I’m struggling. I’ve written about my battles with depression here before. I love my family very much, and I will always be here for them. However, I am determined to set healthy boundaries and not take on the weight of their actions. I wrote down 5 phrases to keep telling myself when I get down about everything or feel it piling back on.

I am not responsible for the bad choices of my loved ones.

I cannot change my loved ones, no matter how badly I want to.

I will not give up hope for my loved ones.

I will set healthy boundaries to protect myself.

I will continue to pray for my loved ones to make good choices.

I hope they can be an encouragement to you as well. Here is a post from Jennifer O. White that shares scripture to pray for your loved one. How do you deal with the consequences and aftermath of your loved one’s bad decisions?

5 Comments on When Someone You Love Makes Bad Choices

  1. Thank you so much for this post! It is very hard to go thru time and time again. My husband and I are grandparents that have custody of our beautiful baby granddaughter. We never thought we would be raising her. Because of unspeakable circumstances she has been living with us since she was 4 months old. I have to constantly tell myself that I am not responsible for my son’s bad choices. I too have prayed many desperate prayers!

  2. Thank you so much for this post! It is very hard to go thru time and time again. My husband and I are grandparents that have custody of our beautiful baby granddaughter. We never thought we would be raising her. Because of unspeakable circumstances she has been living with us since she was 4 months old. I have to constantly tell myself that I am not responsible for my son’s bad choices. I too have prayed many desperate prayers!

    • Oh Kathy, I’m so sorry. You are not responsible for his bad choices at all. May God bless you and your husband and your sweet granddaughter, and bring about change in the heart of your son.

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