Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Dear Prodigal Daughter: I've Been There

“Woman With A Very Sad Expression In Dramatic Interior” 
by Sira Anamwong via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As I sit here and type my daughter sleeps soundly beside me… stuffed animals and a cherished Madame Alexander baby doll are tucked in amongst us. Each week she gets to pick a night to crash in my room and naturally also an entourage of bears, hello kitties, even an alligator arrives along with storybooks and giggles. Twinkle lights above give off a soft glow and the light from the laptop shines like a beacon in the dark room after she's fallen asleep. As parents we wish for sweet dreams for our children, for good rest, for mornings filled with smiles and the pattering of small feet ready to start the day and eat a healthy breakfast. We pray for God's word to guide them in all they do, we pray for their protection, we focus on their education and even contemplate their future one day… we take into account every talk we need to have, we model good choices and scrutinize how we can improve… we talk to God, our mother, our sister, our friends, our pastor for feedback on raising these precious children who will one day be adults. Essentially we try to do everything we can to ensure that our children will be fully prepared with wisdom and discernment to be Godly adults in a responsible manner… in regards to their future relationships, their career, even their health and safety but unfortunately, try as we might, that doesn't always pan out either due to poor choices in our parenting and or unfortunate sins chosen by our children.

Children become teens and then young adults and unfortunately just because someone turns twenty, twenty-one or even twenty-two, etc does not equate to them being ready for the adult world. As parents, we may cringe at the choices they make… they are so excited to finally (!) be making choices of their own that they are perhaps making them without thinking through the possible consequences.

As a teen I was so ready to get out of my parents house (truth be told I wasn't the only one) I made unwise choices… sometimes we want to escape a dark place so badly (which in some cases may be justified or not) that we trade one harmful environment for another… seemingly innocent at first; but then weeks, months, even years down the road we realize we are up a creek and don't have a paddle. We may realize we shoulda just stayed where we were and hung in a little longer. Fast forward down the road the situation is so far gone we may have no idea how to escape the whole new hell were in and we long for the days of back when… if only we could begin again and not have chosen the path we took.

Dear Prodigal Daughter:

It's always the same story it seems… my parents don't understand me. My parents don't listen. My parents are uncool and don't get it. My parents think I make bad decisions. My parents think I'm rebellious. My parents think I'm bad. My parents think I'm a troublemaker.

You're right… you're not bad, you're not a troublemaker, probably not even rebellious. But maybe you're idealistic, maybe you're naive, maybe immature, maybe, just maybe despite your good intentions there is a possibility that you're just plain wrong. Or maybe your parent(s) is/are abusive and you're ready to escape no matter what the alternative environment might be.

You say you love him, this guy you're with. You've committed yourself to him and the relationship. You move in together. You tell everyone how wonderful he is. You coo and oooo over how cute he is, how cool he is… how he's the mac to your cheese… to the outsiders that you share limited information about the relationship with he seems like a dream come true. On social media it's all gloss, sunshine and ponies who poop confetti… you and your guy are the epitome of the perfect couple… photo after photo ensue and the upbeat comments posted only serve to validate it all.

But behind closed doors is another story… behind closed doors is the truth. Behind closed doors is the stinking decay of what is to come however much we don't want to acknowledge it… a future that lacks peace, love and beauty but instead a future that will bear struggle, division and resentment… ultimately regret.

But maybe you don't believe me.

Perhaps you have one car you must share… and typically you're left without a ride. Maybe you don't have a job because he hasn't allowed you to get one… isn't it just too sweet how he's "taking care of you" like that? Uh huh. Maybe you're both working overtime to pay off all his debts… wait, why are you paying on his debt? Shouldn't he step up and handle that himself? Or perhaps you're the one with the job… and working your tail off to support the two of you… while he… wait, what does he do, again? Oh, yeah… nothing. He does nothing. Or maybe he is busy… with the remote, with a six pack of beer, or sniffing something up his nose… or maybe he's busy in the bedroom with another chick while you bust your butt all day making minimum wage. Minimum wage? Yeah… because didn't he decide that there wasn't enough money for you to finish school? Or maybe you decided out of the goodness of your little ole heart to put your dreams and education on the back burner… how noble… while he did whatever he wished. What you may not realize yet is that there will never be a better time for you to finish that education… the best time is now not later. What you may not realize is that any man who sits on his rear while you go earn the money and fry the bacon too is not a man. A guy who allows you to sacrifice your goals and dreams so he can get ahead in life is not partnership material. The man who tries to control whether you work, who you see, how you spend your time is not a man for you.

You're what? You're pregnant, you say? Oh, let me guess… he lied and said he couldn't have kids… (I've heard about every story out there) or he hid your birth control, or maybe you now realize birth control is not 100% effective (yikes) as you originally believed. Maybe guilt eats at you day and night and you regret the act(s) you participated in and wish more than anything you could have that re-do. But now he wants you to get an abortion? Let's ponder this… Is he going to pick and choose which children you keep if you get married one day? Are ya'll gonna draw straws or what? If he's not utilizing self control regarding sex with you now, what makes you believe he can once you're married one day? How can you trust he won't have a "slip up";  a hot and heavy false step with another woman? The truth is… you can't. Can people change? Yes, without a doubt with spiritual growth not another human... So do you want to bet your future on him being capable of changing?

Maybe he wants you to keep the baby. Now he's talking marriage, "I do's" and rings… slipping a ring, er, bandaid on the situation isn't going to fix it… the truth is… getting hitched doesn't make having a baby out of wedlock like it didn't happen… why put a child through the inevitable reality of a likely divorce down the road? There is the chance he will feel trapped one day; that you got pregnant on purpose to get a proposal… there is a chance you might always wonder who else you could have married if it hadn't been for "sucking it up and trying to make it work" because you're now carrying a tiny human that brings you together forever… adding the pressures of marriage on top of a child's arrival in nine months? Perhaps the best thing to do is co-parent to the best of your ability and do a "wait and see"… if it works out, great… if not, move on.

I've been there in several of these scenarios. 

The truth is… these scenarios are amongst many many others women find themselves in everyday… and the phrase "find themselves in" is not to be taken as not taking responsibility for the choices one made but to point out the fact that many times what we do truly believe to be good-intentioned, sound decisions at one point we later find ourselves (sometimes years later) shaking our heads in astonishment and sorrow that we could have ever EVER at one time believed we were making good choices. We now look back with complete disbelief and a desire to slap ourselves upside the face (!) wondering what on earth we were thinking… for now the reality of our past poor decisions sit squarely before us with stark clarity.

So why didn't we just tell the guy: "Look, if you don't get your you-know-what-together" I'm outta here!… or "If you don't start treating me the way I should be treated" peace out! Why don't we speak up? Why don't we just tell him if he doesn't start doing x,y,z were outta there and were hiking it home to mama and/or daddy?

Likely it goes back to pride. 

Your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God. Deuteronomy 8:14

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. James 4:10 (NLT)

If we do see an issue and yet waffle with leaving it's usually due to how we will be perceived once home. Will we be told: "I told you so!" when we return by our family? Will we be sneered at and made fun of? Will we be put down and berated for "being such an idiot"? Will we be met with tension, friction and judgment instead of joy, mercy and grace?

Will we return home to open arms? To thankful smiles and tight-as-you-can-squeeze hugs? Will there be anger and resentment or warmth and forgiveness? Will there be affirmation we are important and mean something to them or will we be met with hostility and reproach? Will we be trusted and shown love or will we be treated like a prisoner and dished out hate?

Sometimes we fear returning and admitting we were wrong.
Sometimes we fear returning and facing the people we left behind.
Sometimes we fear returning and dealing with whatever reaction is waiting for us.

Like the prodigal son in the bible who returns we may wonder if we will be met with open arms, warmth, love and forgiveness…  or detachment, coldness, resentment and wrath.

Your earthly father may hug you but have a grudge in his heart.
Your earthly father may never look at you with love again.
Your earthly father may not let you return.

Our sins in life against others are ultimately also sins against Christ. 

When were young we want more than anything to be free.
To make our own decisions.
To make our own way.
To live our life.

But the further we stray from home, from our Father, the worse off we will be.

The great news is:
Christ won't turn His back on you.
Our Father In Heaven is ready to recover the lost.

No matter what your earthly father says or does take heart in knowing that Christ died for you… you're His beloved daughter and no matter how far away you run, who you're with, how badly you've stumbled… Christ is there to love you and welcome you with open arms.

© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2015

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