When One of Your
Children Wrecks Your Parenthood...
This is simply written from this
mother's perspective, very private feelings about a difficult season...
What a shocking thing it was to
discover, ten years ago now, that one of our children was flat-out
disobeying us and was in rebellion in our home. It would be many
years before things really turned around for this child and in many
ways, what was lost will never be recovered or replaced. That time
is simply gone. The hopes and dreams, plans and ways for that child
were essentially shattered when he decided to go his own way, make
his own decisions and choices. Though new hopes and new dreams
have taken place, those original plans were dashed
I suppose, at first, I was in
denial---denial that this son could possibly be so rebellious;
denial that this son would conceivably turn his back on things we
held dear: our family, our home, our way of life. I was in denial
that this son could follow, walk with, live with people who were not
part of our life. Really, as I look back now, I suppose my heart or
my pride was assaulted and crushed. Perhaps it’s like that for
sisters whose husbands leave them for younger/other/different
women---I don’t know. All I know is that when it took place, I felt
as though I had been hit in the face with a board and somehow, the
pain and agony of that blow has never really gone away.
I didn’t think of this early on,
but in recent years a thought has come to mind: my son, you wrecked my
parenthood… you trampled the plans, you ruined the picture. I
wanted to say: my son, you left your place at the table, someone else
now sleeps in your bed and occupies your chair as we gather around
the Word and in prayer every morning. I wanted to tell that son
that nothing could ever be done to make that loss right, to resolve
the longing I’ve had all these years---the longing to help and to
watch that son grow and mature in the ways of manhood and in the
ways of the LORD. Nothing could replace that empty spot, those
dashed hopes and dreams for that boy.
Along the way I have had to
continually reconcile all of these thoughts and feelings with the
reality of our life and the reality of the Word of God. I had to
own up to the fact that I contributed, in part, to the turmoil in
that boy’s life---I didn’t understand him when he wanted to do
things differently than we wanted or planned to do them. I didn’t
relate to so many things he found interesting---but I couldn’t
relate to worldly things---I couldn’t then and I cannot now. I
somehow lost his heart... my husband somehow lost his heart and
other things gained his affections---worldly friends became more
important to him and he listened to their enticing plans.
But, glory be to the LORD, I’ve
learned along the way is to stop and listen to the hearts of our
children. By God’s grace, I’ve learned to watch for seeds of sweet
fruit and for bitter seeds of rebellion and prune and shape the
sweet roots and fruit and to nip problems or strife in the bud.
Along the way we learned that when the fruit of rebellion is
apparent, the roots are already firm and deep and it requires
tender, merciful, vigilant and steady effort to remove, clean up and
replace that which held sway in the young person. There’s no simple
way, no short-cut, no way around… the rebellion likely didn’t happen
over night and won’t likely be cleared up over night. By
the same token, strong branches and sweet fruit don't appear
overnight and the same diligent care is required for the staking,
guidance and nurturing of the tender tree---but even the pruning is
thrilling and sweet work when the health of the tree is evident.
I will never forget the night our
son left home. I still grieve over that event---though it’s been
many years. I think over the years I experienced the gamut of
emotions from anger to fear to disappointment to regret to sorrow,
loss, defeat, embarrassment, mourning, hope and on and on. A
mother’s heart somehow manages to hold all her children long after
her arms no longer do. In prayer, a mother keeps watch over her
children long after her eyes close and the children are no longer in
As I grieved the loss of that
boy, friends grieved the loss of their son in death. I saw our
stories as sort of parallel one to the other. For at that time, as
our friends would no longer see their son, we felt, though we would
see ours again, we would no longer anticipate ours to return
home---there was a death, of sorts to that hope... I had lost hope.
But then, as life always does,
things began to change and soon I began seeing the blessing and
benefit to being the mother of a wayward son. Yes, really... I
began to “count it all joy” when I would fall into those “divers
temptations” of doubt, fear, regret or whatever. I began to see
that the LORD had allowed all that had transpired and that it was
all ultimately for my good, his good, the good of our family and for
God’s glory. Soon we began taking pictures again---with or without
all our family present. Soon I began to overlook some of the
glaring faults and began to see that son as the LORD sees him---and
I began to weep for the choices he had made, for the trouble he had
endured and the rough road and tremendous difficulties he faced
because of decisions he had made in the past. The LORD helped us
to comfort and encourage that son as he made right decisions and
choices---all the while, we continued to pray for that lost son.
I began to see with Spirit eyes
the poor, lost little lamb… content in the early years to eat with
the pigs, then longing for the sweetness of home. The prodigal
never returned home---but it no longer was the ache of my heart that
he return home to me or to us. It simply became the ache of my
heart that he return to the LORD---regardless of where he lay his
head to rest---for, after all, it's not for me that he was given, it
was and is for the glory of the LORD that that child was born.
It’s been a long and winding
road---both for that boy and for his mama. For that boy… in
seeking to find his way has stumbled in the dark, has tripped over
the snares of the world and has shielded his eyes from the Son. For
his mama, in seeking to find peace and make sense of all the
grievous disappointments, the LORD has brought sweet peace and even
hope for the day of “restoration” and redemption. We have
enjoyed delightful times of rich conversation, joyful celebrations,
and commemorating milestones and accomplishments with this son...
the LORD has begun to restore what the locusts have eaten and has
given me tremendous hope for complete repair and restoration.
Hope that was once lost has been
replaced with a new hope, a bright future and a joy that only the
LORD could've brought. I smile when I see this son---my sweet
joy. This son now gives me great hope and joy---our family
rejoices over this son with great joy. It's sort of a "beauty
from ashes" sort of hope and we thank the LORD for His gift.
O, had I known and understood the ways of the LORD and His mighty
acts. I do praise Him more and more.
I can honestly say with the
will hope continually,
and will yet praise thee more and more.
So… if you ever
experience the anguish of one of your children wrecking your
parenthood… please join me in trusting that God has a bigger picture
we as yet cannot see---a bigger plan we as yet cannot fathom---for I
know who holds the future and I know who holds my hand. Just
because the past may have some very rough patches and dark spaces,
the future is bright… no matter how the horizon looks today.
with love and praise,