What do you do when you have a child who isn’t walking with God? When you thought you did everything “right”?
I don’t think I attended church one time during all of my college years except when my roommate invited me to watch her sing in a choir one Sunday. All I remember was STRUGGLING harder than ever to stay awake because I had been out late the night before. It was painful.
After college, I started working in an office and met another new hire. She was bubbly and fun and we immediately became friends. I remember her asking me questions about what I believed. Who knows what I answered but what I do remember is that she never corrected me, never told me I was wrong, and never told me what she believed was the right answer.
She just listened.
Three months into our friendship we both quit our jobs in Dallas and moved to California to live with her family for the summer. I decided to make that uncharacteristically wild and crazy decision. I realized that I had no commitments to tie me down and it sounded like an adventure!
That summer changed my life.
That first week in California, I was introduced to Jesus Christ. Their family friend discipled me and as I studied the discipleship book, sitting on my bed, I accepted Christ as my Savior. It was with such certainty that I knew God loved and accepted me when I read John 8:1-8. He offered me salvation and security when I read in 1 John 5:11-13.
I attended church with my friend and her family every Sunday and even did a study of James with a few friends. I kneeled around her parents’ bed and prayed together with her family the night before her dad went in for heart surgery. Never had I seen a family pray together (aside from before dinner) and I had never prayed aloud. I couldn’t do it then. My heart was so tender I would just cry.
I felt a purpose I had never experienced before. During that summer, I felt Him leading me to work with inner-city kids. At the end of the summer, I decided to move to Kansas City and work as the Girl’s Program Director in an inner-city ministry. I met my husband soon after at Kansas City’s young adult Bible Study Fellowship.
Fast forward 25 years, my husband and I have four children, ages 16-21, whom we have raised in the faith. Our family has been active in our church and have tried to live our faith as best we could.
The thing about our kids is that they each have free will. Just like I did.
They each get to decide what path they want to travel. Just like I did.
They get to figure out, explore, and ultimately choose what to believe. Just like I did.
What I Love the Most…
The one thing I love most about my story is that God pursued me and continues to pursue me. I see it over and over in my life.
He cared enough to draw me to California where I was introduced to His gift of salvation.
Another example of Him pursuing me is when six years ago, as I was organizing my bookshelf with my daughter, I saw a book that I’d never seen before. Something made me put this book aside to read it. God used that book to soften my heart, reignite my walk with Him, and prepare me for a difficult time.
He knows, cares, pursues, and changes me….as He sees fit.
I LOVE thinking about this. I LOVE trusting Him.
And you can trust him to pursue your child who may not be walking His direction right now.
And the best part of this is…
He does the same for each of my kids.
He writes their story. THEIR unique story.
HE is in control.
HE pursues each of their hearts.
I love my story. I love how God wrote (and continues to write) my story.
And I believe and trust that he’ll write just as beautiful of a story for each of my kids.
Beautiful doesn’t mean easy.
Beautiful does not mean without pain, without detours, without disappointments.
What beautiful does mean is that God is glorified through it all.
As I watch each of their stories unfold, sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes I don’t like their choices. But, I have to remind myself to lay my worries at the foot of the cross. To trust Him. It is His job. He writes it.
And as He writes it, what is my job?
Recently I was getting coached on this (What is my job while God is writing my teen and adult children’s’ story?) and my coach asked me how I can love my child – just as they are – in the midst of their choices.
How do you love someone who is doing things in your family that the Bible says is wrong?
I took some time to remember how God loved me AND pursued me WHILE I was partying and lying and cheating and stealing (…and more I won’t list.)
He didn’t ask me to change and then He would accept me. He didn’t wait to love me until after I changed. Him loving me unconditionally also didn’t condone my behavior. He drew me to Him as I was and then changed me as only He can do.
Same with my friend. She loved me just as I was without telling me what to think and do differently. That is what I was drawn to. That is the part of Christ in her that I was attracted to. After I accepted Him as my Savior and decided to trust in Him, then God began to change my heart.
Same with my children. I can love unconditionally, just as they are with their choices and beliefs, and trust God to do the changing.
To LISTEN and PRAY.
My kids already know what I believe, what I think, and most likely what I think they should think and do.
But, do I know what THEY think? Do I know and understand how THEY feel?
That’s my focus now.
To Listen. I want to find out what they think and what they feel without taking offense or encouraging them to feel something different. I’m just being curious.
I LISTEN, get to know them and LOVE them unconditionally…
Just like my friend did for me 27 years ago.
I PRAY and TRUST God to pursue them and write their beautiful story…
Just like He’s done with me.