January 12, 2012

For a Friend *

"Train a child
in the way he should go,
and when he is old
he will not turn from it."
~ Proverbs 22:6

"Oh, really???"  I've wanted to yell out in a snarky tone more than once over the last couple of years.  You couldn't prove this by me.  My children were raised in the church.  God, prayer, Bible study, fellowship, and all the rest were a way of life.  Both were baptized by their own decision.   Their father was a church elder.  Their mother was a deaconess, Sunday School teacher, youth leader, Bible Quizzing coach, and more over the years.  Their home overflowed with Christian friends and activities.  Now, I will admit all that came to a crashing end when the church we were attending pretty much imploded due to "politics" and we, as leaders, ended up among the casualties, but while the lifestyle may have dried up and gone away for a season, the love of the Lord never did.

Still, I have witnessed my children making decisions in their lives that I never thought I'd see.  Decisions that break a mother's heart.  Repeatedly.  I'm not going to get into the whats and hows of what they've done in their lives, their stories are theirs to tell.  It's enough for you to know that my son, who once believed he was called to ministry, is married to a non-believer, lives a secular life, and won't say what his beliefs are.  Or aren't.  My daughter, says she believes in God "and all that," but hates church and wants nothing to do with Christians in general because they are nothing but hypocrites.  She may still believe, but her life choices reflect no signs of knowing Jesus.

As a mother, I want to rage and scream at God about the unfairness.  "I trained my children the way you said I should.  Why have they turned?  You said they wouldn't!  What's wrong with them?  Don't you love them?  Aren't they good enough for you?  Don't my prayers matter to you?"  I don't, but it's in my heart sometimes, and we all know that if it's in my heart God sees it just the same as if I did it.

And that is when God starts talking to me....

God:  Daughter, why are you angry at me?

Me:  Because I want my children to know you, to walk with you, to enjoy your blessings.

God:  I want that, too.

Me:  Then why have you let them turn away?  Why don't you answer my prayers to bring them back to you?

God:  Remember that bit about free will?  I don't make anyone love me.  I could, but I won't.

Me:  But....

God:  Did you grow up going to church?

Me:  Yes, but it was different.  I don't remember being taught any of the stuff they learned.  I never chose to be baptized.

God:  Still, you knew about me, didn't you?

Me:  Yes.

God:  Did you continue walking with me, no matter how shallow the relationship was?  Or did you abandon me to search for something you were sure would be better?

Me:  I turned my back on you.  I did a lot of things I'm not proud of.

God:  Yes, you did.  And for the record, I hated those things you did, too.  They broke my heart.

Me:  I'm so sorry.

God:  I know you are, but it took you a while to get to that point didn't it?  How old were you when you decided you needed to get to know my son and live a life that reflected that relationship?

Me:  I'd always heard about your son, knew he was there, but didn't know I could have a relationship with him until I was 23.  I was 28 when I felt you calling me to go to church.  The urge was so strong....

God:  And what happened after you surrendered to that "urging"?

Me:  My life changed so much I don't even know where to begin to tell about it.  It was like an explosion in my heart and soul.  I learned so much.  I grew so much as a believer.  My life was blessed beyond anything I could have ever imagined.

God:  Now, tell me...how old are your kids?

Me:  25 and 19.

God:  And how old were you when you became my daughter?

Me:  Oh....

God:  Be patient.  I know it's hard.  I want more than anything to be able to hold your children's hands and walk with them, but they have to be ready.  They still have lessons to learn.  Trust me when I say that I haven't forgotten them.  They are always on my mind.  I know even the number of hairs on their heads.  I know their hearts....just as I know yours.

Me:  But I've prayed so hard and I know you can and do work miracles.  You can work all things to your purposes.  Why not this?

God:  I hear your prayers, but I have to ask you, while we're being honest here....You pray, but have you ever really given up the control?  Can you truly say that you've put your children in my hands or are you still trying to manage things?

Me:  Oh...  I haven't done that have I?  I've prayed, but I've still tried to work things out on my own. I've been....faithless.  I'm so sorry.  Help me to let go.

God:  I'd love to now that you've asked.  Put your children in my hands and let go.  Give them to me.  In the meantime, keep loving them and offering them your wisdom and by all means, KEEP PRAYING.  Just remember...no condemnation, no nagging, no guilt-trips....only love.  My love.  There is always hope when you trust in me.

**I shared this today because of a friend who is going through a heartbreaking time.  I hope this offers some comfort and peace.**


Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El/e/Mrs. Seaman) said...

I was raised Catholic but I didn't "get" it. I know many Catholics who do "get" it, but it never resonated with me.

I started going to church at age 44. Got that? Forty-four. I was baptized only three months after that. To say I "got" Him then, is an understatement.

My son, not raised in church thought I had turned a corner, and not a good one. He was freaked out by his Jesus loving mother.

Over these past few years, he has accepted and respected my choice, defending Christ Followers to others. However, his heart is not yet open.

So, I pray.

Really, what else can I do? I live the life, and I pray, and I keep loving on my whiskey drinking, smoking, cussing son. His character is strong, it's his behaviors and his beliefs need a little blessing!

In fact, via my blog, I believe he reached out to your friend once because he was so touched by a painful comment she left.

God...get him, so he gets YOU!

Stacy said...

Prayer is indeed the parental "big gun" isn't it? Sigh...letting go, letting go, letting go.....

By the way, it's not that friend.

Wendy S. said...

For me, most of all God wants his/her children to live like they know God. Not in any formalized way necessarily but in the small and large actions they take. I once heard the most beautiful saying from the Talmd (and I don't follow my ancestors path of Judaism) but I do respect the spirituality: Walk each step as a prayer in how you know God. And whether our children follow our path of not, they do walk with God, evne when we feel differently. You don't have to like how they know God, but you are unconditionally lvoing them and that's the best you can do and I believe that makes God smile, Stacy.

Stacy said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Wendy. :) We talked in the spirituality class I took last semester about how the whole of our lives should be prayer rather than prayer a part of our lives.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Great post and so true. It is hard to watch them go down the wrong paths. I was like 43 when I was became a follower of God yet I grew up in a God loving home. My parents were lucky I was a good girl.

Beth Zimmerman said...

IF it's me, and even if it's not, Thank you! This is beautiful and it's something that I needed to hear.

We think each stage is the hardest one until we get through it and then the next one is somehow harder ... sweeter but harder ... and that letting go is the hardest one of all!

I KNOW God loves them. I know He knows where they are. What they're doing. And it breaks His heart too.

It's just so hard ...

Rochelle@AFamilyofLooneys said...

Thank you Stacy. I really needed to read this. I know God is in control, but sometimes I forget that. I want to control it, or make that person listen to me. I have no control over this situation. I can't make this person do the right thing or see the things that she is doing to her family. It is hard to sit back, but I can pray. Thank you my friend for this post.

Stacy said...

Debby...I'm glad you have a "success" story to tell. :) I know we all come to know him at the right time for us, but it's so hard to sit and watch.

Beth...This was actually written for another friend, but if it helped you in any way, then I thank God for it. This seems to have struck a chord.

Rochelle...You're welcome, though it really didn't come from me. God definitely led me to this one.

Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El/e/Mrs. Seaman) said...

It's hard to know we all have so many friends who are hurting, almost harder than when we're hurting.


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