I need to wrap this up, and I tried two nights ago… was so close to posting, uploaded photos, checked the preview, tightened the text.
But I wasn’t comfortable with it… didn’t like what I read…
Too long. Rings hollow. What’s wrong? I wondered.
I read and re-read… backspaced, deleting whole sentences… highlighted and cut entire paragraphs…
It still wasn’t right—didn’t say what I’m wanting to say… but not sure why…
What am I trying to communicate, and why is it so hard to put into words what God has taught me through this? Why I don’t cry as hard as I did all those months ago, why it doesn’t hurt so much when thinking of my wayward child, and why there’s a hint of a smile when I look to the future?
I closed tabs, shut down my laptop, pulled the plug and lowered the lid. Family members had drifted to bed. While walking through the house checking doors, turning off lights, pouring a glass of water, I realized:
As the terror of this awful nightmare has begun fading into the past, as the pain subsides, and my own confusing thoughts and emotions no longer threaten to erupt, I am at peace. My heart no longer contorts itself from anxiety or fear.
Of course, tears still flow at times while kneeling before the Heavenly throne, as I intercede on behalf of this child, nurtured, birthed, suckled, bathed, schooled, fed—and countless other tasks performed—by me.
But the tears no longer flow as hotly, and the tears no longer flow for myself.
They flow for him. And all wayward children like him.
Yes, with the initial blow, I viewed it as personal: against me, our family, against all we’ve ever said or done or stood for. (We are a pastor and wife, after all. Our very livelihood is based on what we believe and practice and teach others.)
But as vision cleared, and my head stopped throbbing, and I chose not to believe the doubts, not to give in to despair, not to curl up in a ball and tuck myself away in a dark corner…
A little unsteadily, yes, but most decidedly I picked myself up, put one foot in front of the other, and moved forward.
In the weeks and months following, God’s whisperings of peace brought calm where once raged a storm. And words of comfort from the living Word soothed this fragile, fractured soul.
Day after day after day I chose to believe.
But it wasn’t easy. I wanted to worry. I wanted to blame. I wanted to lash out…
to walk away… to hate… even to quit.
But I knew (from past experience) none of those things would help me or those I love. They would only set me back. And honestly, life is difficult enough—did I really want to do something that would only make it harder?
So I kept believing, and am still believing. And through the process I am learning much.
My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him. – Psalm 62:5
In Christian homes today, so many kids reach adulthood only to reject the faith they grew up with. In this fallen world where frail humans parent miniature frail humans, do we have reason to hope for some measure of success in our feeble efforts? Are there Biblical promises or principles for child rearing, to steer our kids away from the pitfalls of negative influences and personal doubts? These are questions I want to consider at another time. For now though, I want merely to offer hope. As I have been offered hope.
(In voicing my thoughts here please understand, I’m not looking for sympathy, for a pat on the back, for further reprimand, or for anything at all. I expose my heart in this way to assure hurting parents, God can use even this to bring about immeasurable good for everyone involved. And this pain will someday go away.)
In Luke 15 we not only read of a prodigal son, we’re introduced to a loving father. Within the narrative his sons voice their complaints, demand their rights. We’re given a glimpse into the depravity of children, and the unchanging goodness, mercy and love of a father.
It’s the parable of the lost son. In this same chapter are two other parables—both about something lost.
Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost! – Luke 15: 8-9
What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. – Luke 15:4-5
So, what’s a father or mother to do when something so precious is lost?
…when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him… let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. – Luke 15:20 & 24
Continue praying, ever loving, and keep looking for their return.
Such is the way of a gracious God with His wayward children.
(Sheep photo courtesy of Malene Thyssen)