“Mom and Dad, would you still love me no matter what I told you?”
And so begins conversations leading to next sentences we never saw coming. We brace ourselves. Angst that has flowed as a damaging undertow, sometimes for years, bubbles to the surface through our child’s words. The confessions reveal news we don’t want to hear. Our blood pressure soars; our heartbeat seems audible. Please stop, our brains cry. But keep talking, our hearts counter. We struggle to stay calm, conceal the frown, and blink back the tears. All at once, the questions and thoughts crash through like lightning bolts:
Are you serious? How could this be when you were raised in church? Our family doesn’t have this problem. Don’t you know what the Bible says about this? We’ve failed as parents.
What could we have done differently? Why?
Fear. Confusion. Shame. Embarrassment. Isolation. Disbelief. Helplessness. The knot in the pit of our stomachs tightens and won’t go away. We realize we’re not perfect, but we did everything we knew to do to raise this child right. Now this adult child is saying the unthinkable.
“I’m pregnant.”“I’m leaving the church.”“I’m dropping out of school.”
“Can you come pick me up? I’m at the downtown jail about to be locked up.”
“I need some money. I thought my win at the card table was a sure bet.”
“I’m getting divorced.”“I’m gay.”
Throughout time, parents have watched from the sidelines as their adult children entered into troubling circumstances. Even after the Father God supplied His first children, Adam and Eve, with absolutely everything they needed, they disobeyed, insisting upon going after the one thing they didn’t need.
If God had trouble with His very first children, what chance do we think we have of avoiding a similar fate with ours?
The second set of biblical children didn’t learn from their parents’ mistake either. Son A ended up murdering Son B, and then Son A got ostracized by society, leaving the parents bereft of both sons. (See Genesis chapters 3 and 4 for details on those accounts.)
Today’s distinct problems may be different, but the desperate circumstances are exactly the same. We parents ache over the mistakes, misjudgments, shocking decisions, and shameful deeds of our kids. When they were small and got themselves into trouble, we sent them to their room with the command that they simply “cut that out.” But now that they’re grown, neither their issues nor our solutions are that simple.
God is ultimately in control of all outcomes. As parents, we are no more to blame for the outcome of our adult children’s poor decisions than we are to claim credit for their great ones. However, the responsibility does lie in our laps to present the case to God.
Our children don’t always consider that their decisions — bad or good — affect others in the community, church and family. So, when they make a disquieting decision or behave in an unseemly fashion, we ache for the fallout we know will follow, the pain they will inevitably face, and the situation into which everyone involved is now placed.
So where do we start at getting help for our children? Realize that Jesus is the answer to our children’s problems, no matter their issue and no matter their age. Armed with that realization, determine to take that child to Jesus. Second, believe. Have faith that Jesus can bring about the necessary change. Ignore the naysayers. Ignore the wind of culture and buck yourself up to walk directly into the gale.
How will we know God has moved in our children’s lives?
The mute will speak; the deaf will hear; the possessed will be sane; and the dead and dying will live again. Our faith in the Trinity’s ability is like our turning on the faucet to let the power flow into our children’s lives.
Someone has rightly said that we need to stop telling God how big our problems are and start telling our problems how big our God is. Be encouraged. Take your children — with their adult problems — to Jesus, and don’t stop until they are healed.Dr. Sharon Norris Elliott’s passion lies in encouraging the people of God to live significant, authentic lives that clearly mirror the love and life of God to the world thanks to the life of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.*
Article excerpted from Didn’t See That Coming: When How They’re Living’s Not How You Raised Them by Sharon Norris Elliott published by Elk Lake Publishing,