Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Parenting a Prodigal: Part One

Before I start left me say to you: I don't have all the answers and each one of us have a different story.  I have been dealing with this issue for a little over a year and sometimes I feel like I am all alone in it.  Especially, when I am at church when I am seeing all the families with their "perfect" children.  I know the reality is the only perfect child was Christ himself but when you are struggling with an issue no matter what that issue is you only see through the eyes of your struggle.  When a person is struggling to have a baby; it seems everyone around them is pregnant.  When a person is struggling to find a job; it seems everyone around them has a great job, etc. It is my prayer that sharing my story will help someone.

There are many phone calls that you do not want to receive from your child who is a four and a half hour drive away from home at college.  I have received two calls from my Writer Girl* that I would be happy to never have received.  The first happened about two months into her college career and I believe it was the catalyst for the second which began like this: Mom there's something I have to tell you but I cannot tell you over the phone.  Can you come visit next weekend?  That call began one of the most difficult weeks of my life.  I wish I could say I was prepared for our conversation but I wasn't.   Five long days later, she told me two things: she had failed half of her classes and she no longer believed there was a God.  This began my journey into parenting a prodigal.

As I sat across the table from my daughter, I prayed before I opened my mouth.  This is the single most important thing I have done during this journey.  I prayed for the right words that would not push her further away but also for the words I knew I had to say.  As parents my husband and I had set rules for our children about their college education very early.  We sacrificed some pleasures while we were young in order to build college funds for them.  We had told them that their college would be paid for as long as they were passing their classes but if they failed a class then we expected them to repay us for the money we'd given them. This was the first thing I addressed with Writer Girl.  She took this reminder well. 

Then I dealt with the elephant in the room: how could she "all of sudden" decide there was no God.  I couldn't wrap my brain around how a girl that wanted to be a missionary after college would go so far away from her faith. She argued that it wasn't all of sudden, she'd always felt that way etc.  I started to argue with her but I felt like God was telling me to stop talking.   So, I stopped talking.  I stopped trying to convince her that she was just angry at God, that it was a phase or that she just needed to find the right church to get back on track.  I feel that God gave me the strength to stop talking. So that I could hear Him.  Instead of all the arguments, I gently said cannot force you to believe in God, I cannot change your heart.  Only God can do that. But I am going to pray that God will bring you back to him sooner rather than later.  I love you regardless and will always be here for you.  Then I took her to dinner because everything is always a bit better over food.

If you are in this place with me: 
-Pray for your prodigal not just once but every single time you think of them.  
-Pray that God will give you the strength to not try to berate them into salvation.  Because that never works.
-Be there for them when it is appropriate.  But do not rescue them.

My pastor preached a sermon series called Family Strong, in that series he touched on this topic.  If you would like to hear his sermon on the Prodigal it's the third one on the list at the link above.  

Thank you for dropping by,

*I have decided not to use my children's names on the blog but instead will refer to them as Writer Girl, Piano Man, Angel Baby and the Photographer.  People who know them will get the references but I feel like I need to protect their privacy a bit as they have gotten older.

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