Monday, November 4, 2013

The Rest of the Story - Loving Our Prodigal


They take a moment to pray together, in the solitude of the forest, before their wedding ceremony...
photo by David Matthew Fiser Photography


I've written the past few posts on Praying for Prodigal Moms, and sharing a bit about life with my own prodigal son. You can read those post here, here, and here.

I thought I'd let you know the rest of the story, and how things are TODAY.

Our son spent about 2 1/2 years "wandering" before he determined that things had to change. During that time we, as parents, went from supporting him a lot, to cutting back severely. He was enrolled in college during the entire time, and he went from having significant scholarships to losing them all. He went from nearly straight A's to failing and repeating a class. He had remained involved in a campus ministry during this season, and also involved in other area ministries - but I don't think he would ever allow himself to be in complete accountability at any time during college. I think that was one of the things that hurt him; when he was walking strong at the start of his college season he didn't think he needed one, and when he did need one he wasn't willing to let anyone get close. The man he had been accountable to through high school had left for the mission field, and none of us could of predicted the impact of losing that connection.

Financially, we were committed to assisting with college with a half/half plan. He paid half, we paid half. We had done this with our other kids, and it worked ok. We paid his car insurance the whole time, and while his living expenses and situations changed throughout college, we tried to be fair to allow him to focus on studies... he worked all summer and breaks and some weekends when desperate for cash... but we were paying for his basic room and board. His money went for his extras. While we'd hoped that paying for half of his schooling costs would help him to "own" his college experience, I think that if I had it to do over again, I'd let him pay for more of his incidentals too. Car insurance, perhaps half of his room and board; my thought being that if he was forced to work he wouldn't have had as much time to mess around... for better or worse.

He also "got involved more" with girls while in college... including dating a girl who was not a believer, and a serious relationship with a girl online that he'd never met. Both of these relationships were wrong in many ways - but started with him not being in the right place spiritually. We never glossed over them, never shut him OR THE GIRLS out.

It was a bad relationship that God used to bring him back around, although it would be a long while before it got back on the right path with every area of his life. I think that he was so hurt during that season, that it shocked him into remembering what he is here for, who he belongs to. I'm not sure how he would describe it, but it was a turning point. It took about a year later before things REALLY got back to a new normal.

1 semester extra, graduating, and some serious soul searching - moving to join us for a short season after graduation and then a few quick decisions that God used for better or worse... trying to go to a Christian college for another degree - an expensive mistake financially - but a GREAT "mistake" spiritually... it connected him with a mentor that genuinely helped him mature in Christ;  and living in a poverty situation - in the center of God's hand - but in a greenhouse shed with no heat, plumbing, or comforts of home and he experienced the Joplin tornado and aftermath helping him remember that God can use him and wants so much more for his life. Eventually he landed a great job - using his job experience but not relying on his dad's recommendation, moved a few times to other states through this job, pursued God with a new passion and had to be intentional about maintaining fellowship and accountability.

Then, once he was spiritually growing and emotionally secure in who he was - we all started to breathe normal again! It was then that he took the initiative to connect with a Christian woman he met casually a few years earlier, and after taking a month to get to know her beyond the pleasantries, they became a couple and began seeking God's will for their future. They were married about a year and a half later, and are beginning their life together - seeking God, leaning hard on Him and depending on Him to equip and prepare them for the rest of their lives.

I would never want to go through the whole season of wandering again with him... but he is so different now, I believe it's what HE needed to bring his faith where it is today.

There were many days that I just cried. Many days I could only whisper "Jesus" over and into his life. Many times I'd pray "Lord, change him. Change ME. Change these circumstances."  - and God did just that. He changed him. He changed me. He changed the circumstances too... but not without changing both me and my prodigal child.

Epilogue:
Sometimes I'm that prodigal child too. I've turned my back on God, on my husband, on my family or friend and acted selfishly and did what I wanted to do despite the consequences. There have been times I've told God "whatever" and pitched my fit, thinking that I deserved differently, deserved "better" and believed the world instead of His Word. Times I wasn't patient, loving, kind. Go figure.

Since the season of my prodigal child, I only need to remember how badly that season hurt me - how hard it was to communicate with our son and speak words of light and life to him, over him. I remember that it hurt SO bad... way worse than giving birth, more exhausting that the toddler years, and more expensive than high school sports and activities; it's enough to stop me in my tracks of fit-pitching and change course. I don't want that between me and God. Never.

I'm still not perfect and don't expect I will be till I'm seated with Him in the heavenlies... but until then, I'll walk close to Him and cling to Him and press in hard on Him ... till He leads me home...

Pray:
Father, we have ALL made mistakes. Please give us the grace You share with us as we deal with our kids and other family members. Please extend forgiveness to us when we do You wrong, and help us to forgive others when they do us wrong - even before they ask. Never let unforgiveness build a wall between us and You, and help us to seek to build bridges leading to You with those that don't know You... even when those people are destructive and intentionally hurting us. In everything we do, let us love You, and display Your love for all sinners through our actions, words and deeds.
In Jesus' name... amen.