A Wayward Child
Our son came over nine weeks ago to let us know he wasn’t happy with his life the way it was. Oh! Finally, I thought. Our wayward child is ready to turn his life back around to The Lord. Umm, NO! It didn’t take me long to realize this wasn’t where this conversation was headed. He let us know his intentions of what his Dad and I call, self-destruction.
Staying with the theme of getting back on track with The Lord, I proceeded to tell him exactly what it was he needed, or rather WHO he needed. Can’t you just see my mama finger pointing? He did admit his need for a right relationship with The Lord again. Whew! We were getting somewhere. Not so fast though because that’s where the conversation ended.
I looked around after our son left and wondered where his actions came from. He was raised in a Christian home–a strong Christian home at that. Our lives were centered around Christ all his growing up years. We weren’t just out to get our tickets punched each week in order to have perfect attendance at church. We lived and breathed Christ. And beyond that, he was raised in the same home with our other children and their walks prove their love for God. Same parents, same rules under the same roof. What happened?
A new routine
So, from here I began a daily routine of a scheduled prayer time just for my son. This was a very early start to my day at 4 a.m. each morning which coincided with our son’s workout routine. As my prayer time was ending he would be headed back home. I would at this point send him daily texts filled with Scripture, God’s love and my love. He seemed to be accepting of the daily contact at first. And this encouraged me. I just KNEW God was working.
I had faith to believe The Lord was working on my son’s behalf and I trusted Him for this. But then, several weeks into the new daily routine things turned bleak. And I found myself questioning God as to where He was. Can you relate? And this is when my turning point came…
I felt hurt and ashamed. Guilt played a huge role in my daily thoughts. “What did I do wrong?” was the new tune playing constantly in my heart. And where was God? The enemy began filling me with doubt and confusion.
I knew I was at a place that wasn’t healthy for a 40+ year believer in Christ. Walking in the way I was in the midst of all the emotions I was feeling wasn’t helping our wayward child, myself, or our other children. I knew I had to find The Lord’s peace above all. And we know that when we seek The Lord, His promise is that He will be found (Jeremiah 29:12-13). His still, small voice began ministering to me. Through:
- Unconditional Love
He showed me where I was allowing the enemy to control my thoughts.
When I sat and thought about all He was pouring into me, I realized this was exactly what I wanted our son to receive from me, his mom. And hopefully, my example would lead him to the cross. I knew how important it was for our son to feel safe and loved. I wanted him to see me with my arms open wide to receive him exactly where he was. He has faults, but don’t we all? And if God can meet me where I am, should I not also be able to meet our wayward child where he was?
Healing and Help
Through the leading of His Spirit, He showed me how to exchange the negative thoughts for His thoughts…
- Anger to Grace. I realized the anger I felt inside wasn’t helping our son. I had to let go of the anger and show grace through patience.
- Guilt to Peace. I had to die to my self-centeredness and allow God’s peace to take over. Yes, self-centeredness. It was my pride that was hurting and I had to let this go.
- Shame to Acceptance in His glory. This shame was again rooted in my pride. I needed to exchange my shame for His glory. My good deeds weren’t what made me accepted by The Father. I was accepted by Him because of Jesus’ work on the cross. And my son was accepted by the same work. He carried our shame. It is not mine to pick up.
- Unforgiveness to Unconditional Love, full of grace. We, as parents are the representation of God’s grace. I found a breach in mine and my son’s relationship and asked myself, “what would God do here?” Or rather, “what is God doing?” I thought that if I opened my arms up he would think I thought his actions were okay. But my husband reminded me that our son knows where we stand with the choices he is making. We do not approve. He knows God doesn’t approve either because he knows God’s word. What he needs from us is to see our arms open wide and our unconditional love.
Was all this easy? Did each of these issues disappear overnight? Absolutely not. I am a work in progress, just like my son is a work in progress (II Corinthians 3:18).
As parents, we want to naturally rescue our child from pain. Sometimes, in order to fix the problem, we use:
- Manipulation in trying to get them to do exactly what we think is best…for their best interests, of course. As harsh as this is, however, sometimes we can’t see God’s best. We must trust Him to work this out in His perfect timing and in His perfect way. It’s hard. I know. But by giving everything over to Him we take on the peace knowing that He will accomplish what He sets out to do. And yes, I’ve had to redo this act of surrender a couple of times, but that’s okay. God knows my heart and He forgives me when I fall short and try to take control again.
“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6
- Rejection. I realized when I was constantly pointing out and harping on our child’s sin I was losing a piece of his heart. And someday when my son is ready to return to the life God has ultimately planned for him, will he feel so rejected by me that it keeps him from turning back? Or will he feel he can come running back to my open arms by the conviction of God’s Spirit?
I realized I had to give up false rights. This wayward child I keep referring to as “mine” is not mine. He is God’s. When I acknowledged this and released my child to God, it took the burden off of me. It also allowed me to understand what God was asking me to pray for him and show him unconditional love.
A Mom’s responsibility for her wayward child
We all know the concept that says, “hate the sin, love the sinner.” I love what a wise woman once told me she had said to someone she loved, “I love you more than I hate your sin.” These words are heart-penetrating to an accepting heart. And the key to an accepting heart of a wayward child may just come from the prayers and unconditional love of a parent.
If you have a wayward child, I encourage you to surrender to God. Allow Him to bring conviction while you pray trusting His perfect way and perfect timing.
Lord, please help us to trust in Your love and Your perfect timing for our wayward children.