I've been "tenderized"
Over the weekend, I read a G.R.E.A.T. book, Prodigal in the Parsonage, by Judi Braddy. While my husband and I are not ministers, this book was a great encouragement to me. Many of the fears this mother faced are my fears. Many of the struggles this pastoral family endured, are our struggles. It is a worthwhile read for any parent of a prodigal regardless of their occupation.
Here are just a few of the highlights from this book that leave me thinking:
"Lord, what did we do to deserve such pain? It's a question we've all cried out to God. I can only conclude that, like God, we chose to have children--children with free will and full reign to make their own choices, children who never meant to hurt us but became so caught up and confused by their own personal conflict that they stopped caring about the effects their behavior had on others."
"It's the simple nature of families that when one struggles, all are affected. Under normal conditions, that can be a good thing. When a member is working toward a positive goal or experiences an unexpected turn of events, family provides a ready-made, unified support system. As author R.A. Scott puts it, "Familyhood supplies irreplaceable assets."
"We tried most [every suggestion offered by other people] many times. Some failed. Others worked--at least temporarily. But there were dynamics that people who've never had to deal with a defiant child--the ones most likely to offer advice--can never possibly understand. These were the ones, who seeing no obvious improvement, would just shake their critical heads. I could almost hear them thinking, Poor, pathetic pastor and wife. They just don't get it. If they'd just do it right, it would work. 'Excuse me! I wanted to shout. We got it--we tried it! It didn't work! But thanks for adding to our pressure! '"
"'Marriages are not made in heaven. They come in kits, and we put them together ourselves.'"
"Sadly, heart-wrenchingly, we have to let [our prodigals] live in the foreign land long enough not to want to be there anymore."
"Someone once said there are two categories of people: the righteous and the unrighteous--and usually, it is the righteous who do the categorizing."
"I believe it was invaluable that we, as pastors, reached the point of no longer seeing imperfection as failure--rather to see that to be imperfect is to be human, and that by recognizing that humanness we admit our great need for God. [...] One writer summed it up this way: 'I've found that facing some of these shame-filled problems tenderizes us and helps to make us real.'"
One of my favorite quotes is from the children's classic, The Velveteen Rabbit: "What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day. "It's a thing that happens to you," said the Skin Horse. When [someone] loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become REAL."
Isn't that what we all want for our children, prodigal or not? To "[love them for a long, long, time, not just to play with, but really love them;" that they may one day discover who they really are in God? They are chosen, they are fearfully and wonderfully made, they are loved!
This is my prayer today--that each of our children will discover the reality that God has in store for them. Put the enemy on notice--we are not between a rock and hard place--we are "between a rock and God place!" We "lift our eyes to the hills--where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth." Psalm 121:1-2 LORD, let not our pain cause shame, cacollaterallaterol damage, and strengthen our faith through the long wait. Let our pain continue to tenderize us--softening our need to control and press our aching hearts with your peace. As Judi Brady concludes in her book, "I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. (2 Timothy 1:12)