Do you have an adult child you raised to know the Lord, and now your heart is breaking, watching them not walking in the fullness of His Kingdom? This is a place none of us want to be in, but many of us seem to find ourselves here at one time or another.
Having raised five children to know the Lord, each one was also filled with the Holy Spirit, able to minister in various ways as children from that flow of the Holy Spirit within them. I modeled the Kingdom walk in my home to the best of my ability through my own intimate relationship with God. My husband and I don’t swear, we didn’t bring sex or violence into our home through movies or TV (not unless Packer football counts). My husband and I are not drinkers, nor have either of us EVER been drunk, and we have never been smokers (I have never had a puff of anything my entire life). All of our children were either homeschooled, or sent to a private Christian school for most of their school years. I also drove them around the country to experience God and encounter Him in powerful children’s camps and conferences.
And yet, I have watched every single one of them go through a floundering process. It is heartbreaking and scary to say the least; to watch them making decisions you know can have lifelong consequences, which could leave them either defeated or struggling to overcome for many years.
My recent concern about this once again caused me to start doing some in-depth research on this generation of young adults – those in their twenties – and found myself in tears, crying out to God for this group of wandering souls!
I’m not going to talk about what caused this. There are plenty of organizations addressing this issue. I want to talk about what we can do if we find ourselves in this place.
It is important to realize that most of them still have a belief in God. Even if they say they don’t, that is usually the mechanism they use to not feel the guilt of things they might be doing. How can you truly not believe in someone who is living inside of you?
Many of them still pray and talk to God about things that are going on in their lives and ask Him questions. But they don’t want us to know that, because they don’t want to have to try to explain how they can pray and yet still be living the lifestyle they have chosen.
I remember as a Christian teenager when I found myself in a sexual relationship with my Christian boyfriend, I continued to pray. I continued to read my Bible. As a matter fact, my boyfriend and I would sometimes pray together. We still went to youth group, I still worshiped the Lord. The guilt of that part of my life stayed hidden for quite a while. Even though I knew what I was doing was not pleasing to the Lord, I did not want to lose my relationship with the Lord. So it wasn’t that I was being what has been labeled as a hypocrite, I knew I needed Him, and even though I was deeply rooted in my sin, I hung onto God in the ways that I knew how.
I tell you this because even though your child may not overtly be hanging onto God in a way that you can see, chances are very good that he or she is still hanging on to God in ways you cannot see.
Let me share with you seven things I have learned in the process of watching my own five children, as they each made their own life decisions that were not the decisions I wanted them to make, especially concerning their walk with God.
- Give unconditional love they can receive
I know that we continue to love our children unconditionally, no matter what. But too often our children don’t know that. Our child’s perception of the truth is more important than the truth itself, when it comes to our love for them. It is important for us to find ways that show love to them in a way they can receive it. That can be a challenge for sure, especially if they are at a point where they always want to pick a fight.
Ask God to show you what their “love language” is, and to give you ideas that will get past the walls that have been put up. They need to know without a doubt your love is real, and it is strong, and it will never go away no matter what they do or the choices they make.
2. Know the difference between discipline and judging or manipulating
As my children reached adulthood, I could no longer bring discipline into their lives. That season of my life was over for them. When that time came, I found it very easy to turn the corner and become very critical and judgmental, trying to guilt them into what I thought they should or should not be doing. This was never successful and always pushed them away from me, which never failed to cause a chain reaction of ugliness, usually coming from both of us.
I have learned (and will admit I am still learning) to leave the judging to God. He will do a much better job than I will. He will do it right and he won’t mess them up like I can. And there is that little verse that says, “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). When I think about it, I would much rather my child be given mercy than judgment. The truth is, it’s His kindness or goodness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). If that’s the way God does it, then that’s the way I need to do it; which seems to circle us right back to that unconditional love. Hmmm…. Sounds a lot like the way God does things, doesn’t it?
We will continue this subject in next week’s blog.
In the meantime, would you please share with me in the comment area below: What is a creative way you have shown love to your adult child that you know they received as such?
I’m an adult child and I’m not a parent yet. I really enjoyed your post nonetheless! I admire both of my parents so much for homeschooling all of us for most of our lives. But you are right, even in a safe environment self-destruction can happen!
Laura Diehl says
Thank you Kayla. We all make decisions that affect our future in a negative way….but as parent, it is so very hard to watch and not step in to try and fix. I am still learning how to do that. I hope any “self-destruction” in your life has been turned around to some degree and become a strength in your life.
My son is schizoaffective and I have a hard time letting go..He needs meds and help and the father is not emotionally available, his brother ignores him and his sister tries to stay in touch. I find I am very codependent with him to the point I need to let go.. I worry and have fears about him and don’t really know why except maybe guilt? Divorced his father twice.. He was a loner and started in to depression around 18 yet would not take anything.. we as a family watched him decompensate many times yet I would always be the one to admit him or get med changes not anyone else.. I realize I need to allow God to work in both our lives yet this is hard. I am wondering why I feel the need to be his savior so to speak.. yes I had a very dysfunctional childhood. I grew up too fast and took care of my mother..