Perspective & Grace: Unsaved Adult Children

Reflections from The Afternoon of Life: Finding Purpose and Joy in Midlife by Elyse Fitzpatrick

We have all heard the saying “Little children, little problems; big children, big problems.”  May I modify it a bit to say, “Little children, little hurts; big children, big hurts.”   As young mothers, we bandage our children’s “owies” and kiss and make them better: problem solved.  The pain that comes from our adult children’s emotional turmoil is not so easy to fix.  It is much more agonizing, for our own pain is multiplied as we feel their hurt as well as our own for them. We want to help, we want to protect them from unnecessary suffering, but our children are determined to steer their own course and make their own mistakes.

As a mom of three adult children who are far from the Lord, I can testify to the pain I have felt and tears I have cried for them.  I have prayed for them, too, though not enough, I confess.   I have had to learn some painful lessons of my own to know that it is not my prayers, but God’s purposes, that determine the salvation of my dear ones.

I have watched as the Lord used many traumatic situations to make Himself known to them, to draw them to Him:  a van rollover with my daughter Amy and baby granddaughter aboard, domestic violence, suicide, divorce, drug abuse, life-altering injuries and illnesses.  In many cases involving Amy, she almost always would thank me for praying for her, believing that it was those prayers that protected her.  In recent years, however, her references to spiritual things have totally stopped. Additionally, Rick and I have gone through alienation from Christian and Philip.  They were offended by any references I made to Scripture or spiritual things on Facebook (posts that were intended for my Missio Dei family), and so they cut off all communication with us.

By God’s grace, gradually, over the period of about a year and a half, our relationship with Christian has been restored.  We honored his wishes to not talk directly to him about spiritual matters, but continued to reach out to him.  We are intentionally missional, inviting him and grandson Colvin to activities and meals, attending Colvin’s football games, and reaching out to Christian’s daughter Kat from whom he is estranged.  We ask God for wisdom and, as situations allow, are able to occasionally insert a word about the Lord without Christian taking offense.  God has been so gracious to us.  Sadly, Philip remains unreachable, literally, as he moved to Thailand.  We know nothing of his life, his health or his safety except what little his siblings share with us; I miss him terribly.

When I read 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9: “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might,” I cannot bear to think that this might be describing my children.  And it is here that I learned one of my hardest lessons to date from the Lord.

(to be continued…)

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