I relentlessly love my son, but I am not sure right now how much I like him. He’s a prodigal and is my constant prayer request and ongoing heartache. It wasn’t like he went from amazing to lost overnight. There were signs- increased selfishness, a growing disrespect for authority, and an attitude he could get away with anything. I tried disciplining it away, praying it away, talking it to death away, and still, this season hit like a ton of bricks. It’s a unique experience, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but I am leaning into 2024 with confidence that God will move. He will lead me and my husband. He will seek and save the lost. He will guide me in managing the emotional energy this requires. And I am trusting that whatever chapter I find myself in, the story is still ongoing.
I trust God will move both in me and in him. This is my opportunity to be sanctified- my sin exposed and just waiting to be confessed. I am taking the fresh start a new year offers and believing:
No matter what choices our son makes, God will give me rest.
Jeremiah 6:16 says This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” God wants to lead me down a good way, where He’s littered the path with gifts, some spiritual, some are fruit, some of those gifts are fellowship, but mostly, that’s where I can find peace.
God loves our son more than I do, and in my absence, He is always present.
I can’t break this spiritual principle, and I don’t need to beg God to care about this situation. He does, and has, long before me! He knew it was coming and still knows how it will end. When I talk to Jesus about our son, I can’t manipulate Him; I just align my heart with His.
My voice is in our son’s head, and I know what I’ve told him- the truth.
There’s sound science out there that says what his Dad and I have said is imprinted in him. He can try and ignore it or drown it out, but he knows how I think, what I believe, and what I’ve taught him. I don’t need to cram it all into every call, text, or conversation now. It’s simply there.
I can hand our son metaphorically over to God and enjoy other relationships.
There’s that terrible adage about mothers being only as happy as their least happy child. That’s not okay, and it’s not living as if I trust God is moving. I have other children, friends, a husband, and a calling that makes me happy and brings me joy. If my happiness is wrapped up in his, then we are co-dependent and in desperate need of boundaries.
He is not a reflection of me.
This keeps so many of us quiet about our prodigals, as if we are announcing we’ve done a bad job. He is his own man, with free will and a host of influences outside of our home. A combination of spiritual attack, his own sinful nature, and a world calling him to come sin in it has led to this season. I have no (nor should I) control over his actions. I am just responsible for myself, and this year, I am learning the art of loving well and letting go.
Prayer does something.
Do I believe this is my greatest weapon? Most days. I can pray, and ask others to do the same, and trust God is at work. This helps me not focus on the little things (What is he wearing? What did he just post?) and instead take the big things to God and leave them there. Prayer co-regulates me, and our Bible says, “is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)
Relationship, relationship, relationship is how healing happens.
The most effective tool I have for communicating truth is influence because of relationships. How are relationships deepened? Through being heard and played. If I can learn to listen to my son (without judgment or distraction) and if I can keep playing with him, then we still have a foundation to build upon. And if the relationship gets severed with me at some point, I’ll trust God in 2024 to bring other believers into his path. Our God family is extensive and can be trusted.
God gives wisdom. (Do I hold onto this boundary or that one? Hold the line or show grace?)
Some days, I am ready to exercise what the world calls ‘tough love,’ and other days, I have a generous spirit and plenty of grace. How do I know what is the right approach? I ask God for wisdom and trust. He’ll give me honest time guidance- He’ll lead me on that good path, and there I will find rest in my actions, regardless of how they are received.
2024 is a new year and full of possibilities. God wants to grow me up, He wants to carry our lost sheep home, and He wants us to testify to His goodness in the process. Let’s hold on together.