When our children reject their faith in God, we long to hide. We can feel like failures. Shame interrupts our thoughts and condemns our hearts. When we pray earnestly that our children follow God and those prayers go unanswered, we wonder where we went wrong. But, it’s time for honest conversations with each other other.
Honest Conversations Offer Hope
We gather on a Saturday morning at church for a Women’s Bring Your Own Breakfast event. Many in the room are middle aged moms like me, sporting their comfy Saturday clothes. We make our way around the table and share a little about ourselves. Normally I don’t prepare anything formal for these events but today I feel led to open a discussion about our grown kids.
Gingerly, I reveal how some of my kids are far from their Maker. I’m buoyed by the strength God has given me these past 14 years. At one time, this discussion left me crushed by sadness but now it feels like an invitation to my highest calling. God has been faithful to minister to my heart this past decade and now He asks me to share what I’ve learned.
One by one women open up about the sadness of a child who no longer believes. Tears flow and knowing glances are shared. The hopelessness and shame are palpable as each woman talks, but I also sense God’s sweet embrace.
In this sacred space, there’s an opportunity to extend compassion and kindness. Hope is mingled with fear. There’s a holy hush as women share their pain.
One burdened mom says, “It feels so good to talk about it. I’ve felt so alone in this. I thought I was the only one.”
For the first time, I see the relief on her face and a glimmer of light in her eyes. Tension slides off her shoulders as she’s released from the grip of guilt. She feels seen.
That morning with those moms felt like what the early church was instructed to do.
How to Share this Burden in a Healthy Way
Paul wrote to the church in Galatia, “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
These burdens refer to failures, testing, and trials. Surely a mom feels castaway when her child walks away from God. But when she shares her heaviness with a compassionate listener, she feels strengthened.
What do you do when your prayers for your child go unanswered and your child falters or rejects God? Where can you turn? How can you process this loss in a healthy way?
1. Talk about it.
Shame makes a mom keep quiet, but when you open up to a trusted friend, you will feel relieved. You can create circles in your churches, Bible studies, and friendships, where you are safe to be honest. What could it look like if judgment and criticism are set aside? Could you be the compassionate hands of Jesus to a hurting mom? What if you were the brave one to share your story first?
When you are honest, you’ll find other moms who want to be the same. Your courage will inspire others to release the grip of despair on their hearts. Hope will rise again as you realize you’re not the only one.
2. Pray about it.
When the ache is heavy, this is a sign to move closer to God. Your Creator waits to ease your pain as you pour out your longing. When you pray more and worry less, you’re met with compassionate grace. Surely, God adores your child more than you. His desire is to be known, too. God hears every petition and captures every tear. In His perfect timing, He will answer. Instead of wallowing or shutting down, you continue to bow before God.
Ann Voskamp says it clearly: “A wise mother knows what powerful men can forget — that the way to move heaven and earth isn’t with a strong arm but with a bowed head.”
3. Support one another.
There is power in togetherness. The enemy seeks to isolate, then He whispers lies over you.This causes you to pull back. You feel lost and forgotten, unworthy to draw near. The remedy for isolation is involvement with the body of Christ. God calls you to the body so you can support one another. There is strength in fellowship, as you build friendships and hold each other up.
It’s time to handle our prodigals with grace. As women rise together and have honest conversations, we are stronger. Shame is replaced with compassion. Tender mercies flow and hope rises again. Our bond grows and the whispers of the enemy are still.