It’s back-to-school season, and parents everywhere are greeting their children with the age-old phrase, “What did you do at school today?”
If your children are like mine were, they’ll answer with a shrug of their shoulders, or say “nothing.” That’s when you stop asking the direct question and learn to wait them out.
Sometimes we, as adults, feel like we’re having the same experience with God. As we go through challenging times with our children, our life seasons, or the unexpected mountains we encounter, we ask God the questions. But instead of giving us clear answers, He appears to us to be shrugging His shoulders in response to our prayers. We have to learn the patience to wait Him out.
My Prodigal Son took a few steps backward this week. As I listened to his wife’s description of what happened, I dropped right back into my old “Why, God?” patterns. During my conversation with my sweet daughter-in-law, though, I was able to talk myself through the old patterns and beliefs. By the end of the conversation, I had been able to come to a much more Spirit-led, correct, and mature conclusion. More about that later.
Have you ever been betrayed by someone? It’s a deeply painful experience. Maybe you’ve been blindsided by one major betrayal of trust. Or maybe your trust has been broken over and over again in small ways over a period of time until you finally realize it’s been completely worn out. So how do you start over?
When the offender is your son or daughter, it carries a special kind of hurt. Your relationship may seem beyond repair, but remember that God is still at work.
Recently, I listened to the painful stories of two moms of Prodigal Sons. One of the women’s sons is a teenager, the other an adult with a wife and children. One son has a substance-abuse problem, the other has disconnected himself from his family. I love these two women; they are my sisters in Christ and they are hurting from the behavior of their sons.
I have been thinking for a few days about the concept of trust. What does it look like? How does it play out in our lives? What does it mean to parents, especially parents of prodigal sons and daughters?
I had a “moment” this week. It happened when I was helping out at a high-school graduation party for some of the teens in our church youth group. As I watched them joking around with each other, I had a feeling of wanting to keep that evening, to preserve it as it was. This moment can never be re-created because everything, including the kids themselves, will change.
The buzz in the media is all about the bribery scandal: Parents bribing their kids’ way into college. I don’t know about you, but when I heard it, I said, “What kind of parent does that?” Certainly a rich one, but aside from that, what kind of parent feels compelled to go that far?
Everyone has a different style of parenting. Some are over- or under-protective. Some parents are strict disciplinarians from the cradle forward. Others follow the philosophy that you only have one chance to be a child.
It’s a rare opportunity. I have a prodigal son, soon-to-be-released from prison, who is clear-eyed, grown up, sober, and has returned to the Christ he has known all his life. In a phone call last night, I asked what advice he would give to parents.