Friday, April 28, 2006

Prodigal, you ask?

I have been asked a very interesting and important question, "What do you mean by Prodigal?" Great question! Important question! So important that I would like to post my reply here, in addition to my previous reply in the comment section.

One cannot define prodigal without referring to Luke 15: 11-32; the parable of the lost son. I did find, however, that prodigal is defined as "rashly or wastefully" in the dictionary. I appreciate the deeper spiritual lessons and blessing I find in Luke, consequently, I have used the parable of the lost son as the basis for the foundation of my blog.

H. Norman Wright, a psychologist and prolific Christian author has defined prodigal in the following manner:

"The word is used to describe someone who is extremely wasteful. In the biblical story of the prodigal son, the son wastes his inheritance and so much more. Prodigal children waste the values their parents have worked to instill in them. They waste their potential, their abilities, their health, their future. In some cases, they waste their lives. For the sake of our discussion, I consider a child who has rejected the value of his family to be a prodigal, even if that chld still lives at home, even if that child is 12 years old."

I am the Director of Care Ministries at my Church. Some time ago, I received a frantic phone call from a mother whose son had been incarcerated for beating up a prostitute. Her son had struggled with a drug addiction for years and was currently in jail for one crime while waiting to be charged with illegally selling drugs. She asked if I knew of any support groups for mom's whose children were wayward. Did I know of any other mothers? Surprise! She was speaking to another mother, whose son, while not in prison yet--was on a similar road to disaster.

We decided to meet on Friday mornings at 9:00 a.m., just the two of us, to support, encourage, and pray! I phone a few other women who had shared with me that their children were involved with drinking, drugs, and minor criminal offenses. They soon joined our Friday morning support group. Within a few weeks, it became apparent to me that we needed an agenda. This is where my research began.

Each week we would cover a topic that, while our children struggled with different issues in their "pig pens" (vv. 15, 16), were shared topics that we each needed help with. Issues such as "letting go," surrendering, tough love, isolation, fear, and guilt. When you have a prodigal, so much of your energy is spent on him or her; worrying, seeking answers, understanding, worrying, anxiety, sleepless nights, interupted nights, crisis after crisis--you dedicate all of your time trying to hold the prodigal's life together. Soon, each of these mother's realized--somehow, WE needed help holding ourselves together.

This was the beginning of Partners in Prayer for our Prodigals.

As with every support group, confidentiality is key to allow real, authentic sharing and concerns. I bring this same principle to my blog. This is why I will not, intentionally, give the details of my son's journey--ever. I am commited to share my perspective freely, but I feel that the details of my son's journey belong to him. It would be wrong for me to share the details--no matter how important to the message; it is his journey in and his journey out! I hope you understand why I can't be more specific; as I reviewed my blog archives, I found that I may infer from time to time--but I am careful to never give the specifics of what I call his "growing pains."

Pain is pain. Many years ago a therapist stated these few words to a group that I was participating in: Survivors of Sexual Assault. Some had been abused by their fathers, some a neighbor. Some had been molested--others brutally raped. All had emotional scarring, some had the physical scars to remind them. His first words to this group of survivors--was "Pain is Pain." He said this to assure us that although some of the women had endured different abuse than others, we all had experienced pain.

This is the same philosophy I incorporate while defining a prodigal. For some parents it is drug abuse, for others it is criminal offense. Many struggle with alcoholism and pre-marital, unprotected sex leading to sexually transmitted diseases or an unwanted pregnancy. Many receive middle of the night phone calls announcing their son or daughter is in jail. While each prodigal's journey is different: Pain is pain!

I was thrilled to be part of that eight women support group for more than a year. This February, with some prompting from my dear blogging friends Cindy and Lisa, I began part two of Partners in Prayer for Our Prodigals: my blog. As many of you do, right after I pray for my son's swift return home to the Father; I pray that our prodigal journey will bless, encourage, support, and enhance: that God will use it for His glory.

My son has been on this journey for nearly ten years. It is only God's timing that his return home began soon after I started this blog. While we were seeing baby-steps of growth and maturity, never in a million years did I expect such an immediate and rapid change in my son. Call me weak of faith--but seriously, I had become used to the abnormal ways of my son's life. As is the case with any dysfunction--abnormal....becomes our normal. Yet, with God--the ordinary becomes extraordinary! And He is bringing my son home.

So, thank you for asking the question. I love a good diaglogue. I love sharing how God works in a life; in the life of a mid-life, midwestern, menopausal mom who is simply trying to work things out. Prodigal, you ask? I may have a definition for you, but what I do not have--are the answers. I defer to to God on that. I promise to share with you from our prodigal experience, but I cannot promise to know more than that. What I do know is this, God is faithful and has never failed me yet! Even in the midst of painful experiences, He has brought glory out of the ashes; I am no longer a victim, I am victorious! This is why I stand firmly in the gap for my son--reminding God daily of His promises and His character! After all, in the parable of the lost son, guess who the Father represents?!?!? God runs to meet each and every prodigal--He longs for and has provided the way home for each of us! Define that? That's GRACE! That's MERCY! That's AMAZING LOVE!

22 comments:

C. H. Green said...

Great post!

jessica said...

You are a great mother and a great example of what we need to be as our children age. My kids are young... but being a prodigal myself I am pretty sure I will see the some of the same in the future.

Brenda said...

It's never too early to start praying for your children.

Not long ago, I came across a couple of lists at MomsInTouch.org that I had to print out and tack to my office wall. One is "31 Character Traits and Virtues to Pray for Our Youth" and the other is "Promises for Parents of Prodigals." These are helpful reminders to pray unceasingly for my children and prompts for making sure all the bases are covered.

Love your blog! I will be visiting often.

Morning Glory said...

Oh so beautiful, Diane. I'm in agreement and pray for the best for you and your son. The story is his to tell someday, if he chooses. We have the honor of loving and praying, and sharing how God's miracles have touched our lives.

Diane said...

Diane, it's so good to see the fruit of your prayers and God's promises fulfilled. It's an encouragement to those of us who are still in the prayer trenches, toiling away. Thank you for opening your heart to us, and for sharing your struggles and blessings. I pray God will continue to bless and mature your prodigal as he seeks to walk with God daily.

And you should write about Spring there in Minnesota. I know you would do a great job describing it. Just write about what you see every day as you drive through your neighborhood or along your country roads. It's interesting to us because we don't see your wildflowers and scenery every day like you do. :-)

Hope you're having a great weekend! :-)

praynlady said...

I am so impressed! You are a prayer warrior for sure. Being a "near" prodigal, I was actually surprised to see the paths my daughter began to take at an early age. I had begun to tell her about some of the things that I worried about and how things were so different in this day than 30 years ago. Life is much crueler now I believe, too much reality and not enough spirituality! Things that we strayed from even talking about, are now the lyrics of songs sung everyday! Amazing that as the times change, God DOES NOT! My faith has remained forever strong and my prayers are that she will perservere and come back to the path destined to her by God. That she will conciously make the decision to find her way back before intervention becomes a necessity. Thank you so much for this blog. I will definitely pray for you, your son, and the journies of the other PPP mothers and children. Thank you for your prayers for my daughter as well! It was nice to see you had stopped in on my blog! Blessings, Colleen

Saija said...

you're a faithful prayer warrior ...

blessings to you!

Danielle said...

Glad you answered these questions. I too have been curious but enjoy reading your blog. Thank you for sharing your journey! I'll keep readin' !!

Sis. Julie said...

Thank you for visiting my site and leaving your comment. I appreciate this post. I have three children that are serving the Lord and strive to please Him in every way. I try not to take that for granted since I know that my children can stray at any moment. You are a blessing in your faithfulness to the Lord and helping others as one that knows what its like to have a wayward child. May God continue to use you and bless you as you help others in the same situation.

Sis. Julie said...

Oh yeah....and just to add that it is by the grace of God and His mercy that any of us can say we are not in the pig pen or that all or even one of our children are in the pig pen. When they do go there it is by their own choosing and their own free will. God still loves them and wants to bring them back more than their momma and/or daddy wants to. Stay strong ladies and know that God will never leave us nor forsake us and He won't leave them nor forsake them either.

kpjara said...

Amen! This is a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing.

Jan said...

Okay, that's at least the third blog I have read in the past two days about letting go and letting God--not counting my own. Interesting that so many of us are right now fighting that inclination to hang on to our troubles, instead of giving them to God.

Emily said...

You have to read one of my favorite books -- it's by Henri Nouwen and it's called "The Return of the Prodigal Son." It is perhaps my favorite book of all time. And once you read it, you must tell me what you think!! I'm serious now, not just making a lame recommendation, like saying, "You should try lime jello with Cool-Whip" (I'm from MN, give me a break!). Have a terrific day.

Elizabeth said...

Thanks so much, you put it so well!! Glad I found you!

theresa said...

Great post...and thanks for clarifying!

great2beme said...

It is so good to see prayers answered in the now. All to often we think of miracles and answers to prayers as something we can't physically see anymore but that isn't so when you and others write posts about successes and what you do in the meantime between traveling success stories it brings light to those of us who find ourselves waiting...in the gap with you. Thanks for sharing.

GiBee said...

Excellent post... thank you for sharing your heart with us!

HolyMama! said...

thank you, from a mom of a prodigal.

your blog has become very special to me, esp after this post!

T Heart said...

i am new to this page- just surfing trying to find others "like me".
Thank you for the encouragement. I'd like to recommend an excellent book:
"Come Back Barbara" by Calvin Miller and his daughter, Barbara Juliani.
It is the story of her prodigal journey, and gives her response to each chapter her father writes detailing their journey together. That book, and of course, Ruth B Graham's "Prodigals.." have been my constant companion, second only to God's Word.
Just thought I'd share..Blessings!

IRENE said...

What an inspiring post! Thank you and may God bless you all.

TaunaLen said...

Thank you. This post gripped my heart. I'm not sure whether our daughter is on her journey in or her journey out, but I cry out to God for her. It's hard to not be angry with her for wasting the values we spent 20 years instilling. She's not strayed too far, so I feel guilty for mourning the lost dreams, when I think of the awful place(s) where she could be. Your statement that pain is pain helped me feel better about this. Sorry to post such a long comment. I came for the party, and I'm glad I browsed around. I'll be back again. If you get a chance, stop by my place for some virtual coffee.

~TaunaLen

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