As so many of you may already know, we just celebrated the marriage of our oldest daughter, Ashley! It was an amazing day as we were bursting with joy as Ashley gave her vows of commitment, love and loyalty to her new husband! A day to remember and to celebrate the undeniable love and promise for a new life, before her family, friends and God!
This was a perfect day and I do not want to take away from that. However, I do feel compelled to share with you how my prodigal child returned. I know that so many of you have either lost a child, or are in the process of losing a child. And, I don't mean losing a child to death in a physical sense, but instead losing a child to the bondage of sex, drugs, alcohol, crime or harmful relationships. And you feel like you've lost or are hopeless. Perhaps you feel guilt for something that happened in their lives or that you pushed them away. I know these feelings because I also have been where you might be right now.
Many of us were wild, reckless and made terrible decisions. I will be the first one to admit that I was all of the above. However, when we become parents, we want things to be different for our children. We feel that because of the experiences that we have been through, especially the bad, that we can save our kids from making the same choices, the same mistakes. But for some odd reason, it seems like no matter what we say or do, they choose to turn away from all of the wisdom that we have to offer. After we pour out our hearts and give heaps of suggestions based on experience and wisdom, they turn right around and do the exact opposite of what we are telling them! And it hurts! It hurts to see them fall, it hurts to see them hurt and it hurts to see that they are following in their parents footsteps! It just hurts!
But I am here to tell you, THERE IS HOPE! There was a time when my daughter did exactly what she wanted, whether or not she deliberately did it in spite of me, and it sure did feel like it! I have to admit, I did feel as though I was to blame for her reckless choices. She was a child that experienced parents divorcing. But was also mistreated by her father when she was young. Then I drug her halfway across the world when I remarried, where she was forced into another culture and to learn a new language. But then also to build a relationship with her new step-father, which at times was also very difficult. Yes, at times I was guilt-ridden as I waited up all night for her to come home. And as I begged her to make better dating choices. But, in the middle of all of the worry and stress, I also was on my knees praying for her safety and a for God to send her a wake up call! And even though my prayers were passionate and tearful, I do admit, I felt hopeless!
If you are going through a similar situation with one of your children, I am here to assure you that your efforts are NOT in vain!
Here are 5 important actions you must take...
1. PRAY, PRAY, PRAY! And then PRAY more!
1 John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” And you must believe that the safety and salvation of your child is in God's interest.
2. TALK, TALK, TALK!
It's so important that we talk with our children. We need to have an open door policy. We need to give them the assurance that they can come to us anytime, any day and in every situation. That we are there 24/7 and will listen without judgment or anger. As hard as this is at times, and believe me, it's really hard for me, we need to give it our best. Trust is so very important.
3. DON'T PUSH so hard!
There were so many times, that I pushed really hard for my daughter to do things that I wanted her to do. Things that I felt were right and moral, such as not living with her boyfriend but instead to get married. Deep in my heart, I knew that she also felt the same way but there are different circumstances surrounding each person's situation and life. And no matter how hard we push, we can't change the things to be how we want it. They need to make their own choices and to be accountable for their choices.
4. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! And then LOVE more and more and more!
LOVE never fails! No matter what our children have done, or are going through, or continue to make decisions we believe are wrong, we must never stop loving or give them the feeling that we've stopped loving them. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Cor. 13:4-8
5. NEVER EVER NEVER GIVE UP!
Even when you feel like giving up, throwing in the towel, DON'T! Your child needs you!
With prayer, communication, love and effort, there is hope! Our family is living proof! My wonderful beautiful Ashley turned things around, found the love of her life, had a fairy tale wedding where her not so step-father had the honor to marry her and is going to live happily ever after with her amazing family! My child overcame and conquered the past and so can yours!
If you are in a situation where you could use prayer, feel free to write me personal email or just reply to this one. I would love to join you in prayer! And anything that you share with me will be strictly confidential.
With Love and Blessings!