First Fridays with Val
In Allison Bottke’s book, Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children, she quotes another author, Judy Braddy, who wrote Prodigal in the Parsonage:
“Heaven knows what has happened in our children’s lives. However, rest assured: God is not just present – he’s active in all of our lives. More is happening in the heavenly realm than we can possibly know. This means coming to see our situation not as punishment but as a journey God will make with us. That requires us, then, to make a choice as to whether we’ll allow our emotions to overwhelm us, making us bitter and disillusioned, or filter them through prayer and the Word. By doing the latter, we free ourselves to move ahead, committed not just to fulfilling our duty to ministry – this is way bigger than that – but also to our devotion to living out God’s heavenly purpose on earth. In addition, like any good father, he promises a gift to keep us going. His peace passes earthly understanding. Only then will our question no longer be “What in heaven’s name happened?” but “How will God use us for heaven’s sake?””
This excerpt really “spoke” to me today as I was preparing to write this column. I have been falling into the trap of thinking that I did something wrong somewhere along the line to warrant this punishment of pain and anguish that I’ve been going through as a result of my daughter’s behaviors and decisions. I have been allowing my emotions to overwhelm me at times, making me feel hopeless and bitter and angry. I have been getting “stuck” in this mode of “what if” or “if only” or “when will God answer my prayer and bring her back home?” But when I don’t trust in God, when I don’t believe that “more is happening in the heavenly realm than we can possibly know,” then I can’t see the bigger picture of God being in control and that He is working on all of this for His glory and in His own time. In the meantime, I must GET A LIFE. I must find my own life again, and LIVE. In other words, I must give myself permission to move ahead and to live out “God’s heavenly purpose on earth.”
Part of that purpose has been to be a mother of my children. But, I now have to shift my focus on how to serve the Lord in other ways. I need to focus more time and attention on my other family members who have suffered greatly, too, throughout this situation with my oldest daughter. I am expanding my counseling practice. I am going to start a support group in my area for other parents with prodigal adult children using Allison’s program. I am going to serve on the board of directors of a new non-profit agency in my town which is serving the needs of families who are newly homeless. And, I am going to join the church choir in the fall – something which I have wanted to do for years! All of these ways to serve the Lord will help to use my energy constructively, and I think they are God’s way of using me “for heaven’s sake.” And through it all, He promises me His peace.
I haven’t forgotten my daughter. She is ever in my thoughts and in constantly in my prayers. I still want her back home with us and to find her way back to the Lord. But, while I am waiting patiently, I must use my time wisely here on earth while God works his magic in the heavenly realm. I am certain that God will use this period of time for His glory – but I don’t see the “how” or “why” in it yet. That’s something I may never quite know on this earth, but I have to trust that God is in control, and God is making this journey with me. He is right beside me, all the way.