A Parent's Faith to Let Go
- 2005 1 Nov
When my son went to college, I was uncomfortable with some choices he made. Josh didn't skip classes or stay out all night partying, but he struggled finding a new church, while his forays into small group Bible study were brief. Eventually, he just let involvement in church or a discipleship group slide.
I didn't doubt my son's faith. I just hated to see Josh mired in spiritual lethargy. I couldn't call him every Sunday and rouse him out of bed for church (although the thought crossed my mind.) What could I do?
Seek and heed wise counsel.
My husband and I talked with an older Christian couple whose children were married with children of their own. Jerry looked me straight in the eye and said, "Let your son go."
His words continue to echo in my mind. Parenting is not about controlling our children. It is about releasing them - letting them grow into who God made them to be. It means standing back while they make choices, even if we think those choices aren't the best. A friend also reminded me that this is a time to grow in my faith by not controlling Josh's choices.
Trust God's promise for your child
I focused on Philippians 1:6 as my son transitioned from teenager to young adult.
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (NASB)
The word "confident" means "to be persuaded of a thing concerning a person or to have faith." The verse also promises God will "accomplish or complete" what He started in my son's life.
This verse grounds me in scriptural reality. Faith is a gift from God, as Ephesians 2:8 states - not some family heirloom parents pass on to their children. While I nurtured my son's beliefs when he was younger, my words and actions did't produce salvation. I did not cause Josh to become a Christian, nor am I the one to orchestrate his spiritual growth.
Realize your child's life of faith will not look like yours.
I have to think outside the box about my son's spiritual life. Josh attends a small Christian college - by choice, not by coercion. His professors influence his spiritual growth, some by challenging his traditional beliefs. "I haven't necessarily changed what I believe," he said, "but I did rethink why I believed certain things."
Josh hasn't found a church home near campus, but he engages in late night discussions with friends about the nature of evil and sin, and says such talks are the highlights of his college years. He also values his friendship with his Christian roommate, Dan. They hold each other accountable about computer gaming, making sure certain other responsibilities (like assignments) are completed. Dan checks with him about any temptation struggles Josh faces, while Josh helps Dan maintain a standard of purity with his girlfriend.
I choose to look at it this way: my son is daily living his Christian faith, not merely doing Christian things that look good.
Adjust your mindset.
Maybe what I see as spiritual laziness is actually Josh evaluating who he is and what he believes. Once again I am reminded parenting should not be based on assumption, especially if I am assuming the worst.
Letting go is scary - not so much for him, but for me. Resting in the promise of Philippians 1:6 enables me to loosen my grasp on my son's life. It has become my prayer for him:
"There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ appears." (The Message)
Amen to that!
Beth K.Vogt earned her journalism degree back when Ronald Reagan was president - the first time. After working for two financial newspapers and a major Christian magazine, she ventured into motherhood and teaching women's Bible studies. Her focus now is on freelance writing and establishing her website www.thewritingroad.com.