Dear Momma, Letter of Reality
I’ve known a few parents whose precious kids have succumbed to mental or physical illness. Prayers, hopes, dreams, faith poured out – and yet the end result was death. The parents wonder and blame – Did I work too many hours during pregnancy? Did I serve too much Jell-O with Red Dye #4? Any solution would be better than no right or wrong answer. Life is too chaotic and we long for – need – the solutions for success. But, look, we aren’t pagans trying to appease false gods. We are faithful followers of the Master of the Universe.
For those of use with deep Biblical faith convictions whose kids have wandered far and strayed from the faith, we might wonder the same thing. Should we have restricted the PG-13 movies? Should we have gone to church more? What did we do wrong? What did we not do right enough?
You blame yourself. You blame the system that you trusted in. You blame whatever you can because the cost of losing a child – be that physically or spiritual – is too much. Whoever said that a child is your heart walking around outside of your body got it right, and when our kids suffer, be that through physical or spiritual illness, we suffer.
I was in college, and I was sitting in a restaurant booth across from my Grandpa (stocky and with a handshake of iron, a farmer) and his son (6’3”, an educated man, veering to radical liberalism), and Grandpa was pleading with him about a practice that he was involved in that was Biblically problematic. His son was mad and through gritted teeth said “You don’t understand.” My stoic German Grandpa was quietly weeping, shaking his head, and saying his son’s name softly over and over. A prayer, a heart cry for his precious boy who was willing to deny God’s commands.
I know my Grandpa prayed for his kids and his grandkids until he died. Grandpa – a man of the earth and a man of the Book, kind and generous and loved by all, and one of his kids – educated and frustrated and dismissive of absolutes and simple truths.
I think of that often as I pray for my prodigals and yours. Because the heartache of one in the family of faith is the heartache of all.
The reality is that our kids grow up, and as they grow, they are working out their own salvation, sometimes with faith and trembling and sometimes with a cavalier irresponsibility that causes us deep worry and concern. We don’t get guaranteed outcomes as homeschoolers or as people of faith. We might do it all right and still end up with kids who walk away from the faith, resent the hours of personalized, private education we’ve afforded them, and turn their back on their family and the beautiful, holy God we serve.
We might, honestly, do it all wrong. Push too hard or not enough, yell when we should have listened, listened when we should have set a hard boundary. Look, we’re just people with kids. We will inevitably get many things wrong because we don’t – and can’t – know everything, no matter how faithfully we run after God.
So, we pray. We do what we know is the right thing. We train and educate. We are watchful and protective and provide as well as we know how and have the ability to do so.
And then we let God take care of our kids – physically and spiritually. We thank Him for them and lay them at the foot of the Cross. And we lay them down again and again.
And we discipline ourselves to trust that our Savior is saving them as well, not through works of righteousness that we have done but according to His mercy He saved us, and He will be saving them – our precious prodigals – by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.
As we enter into this season of holiday celebration where there is an expectation of whole and healthy family, I am praying for those of you with prodigals and those of you who have suffered the loss of a child, for whatever reason. I am praying that you are resting and trusting in a Savior that sees and hears and knows you and knows your kids – who are also His kids.
May the God of all comfort bring you hope. I am believing in restoration and redemption with you.
Lisa Nehring has been married for 34 years, has five kids, 2 graduate degrees, and a black belt in homeschooling, having done so since 1991. She owns and operates True North Homeschool Academy https://truenorthhomeschoolacademy.com/ which offers K-12th grade classes, clubs, a unique membership site with enrichment classes, community, and more!