Letting Go of the Prodigal Child
By Robi Ley
His eyes narrowed, his jaw clenched, and his hands curled into fists, a sure sign of a forthcoming tantrum from the volatile child I love so much. The trouble was, he was a twenty-seven year old man and I had just told him that his lifestyle was unacceptable to me and he could no longer live in my home. This was a hard moment as I faced off with my son who insisted on pursuing a relationship with a married woman and was angry that I didn’t support his choice of girlfriend. His anger was fed, I know, by guilt. He knew the relationship was wrong. He admitted it was wrong, and yet he refused to break it off.
Many of us have gone through similar situations. We have done all we could to give our children a firm Biblical foundation and still that child goes out and behaves as if he has no clue what morals are. It’s one of the most difficult situations ever faced by parents. It hurts. So, what do you do? Personally, I cried. I talked to my son over and over about his decisions and how they were directly against everything I had taught him and against everything our faith stood for. I reminded him of the adultery commandment. I asked him if he could really trust a woman who was willing to betray the man she was married to in order to pursue a relationship with him; could he be sure she would not do the same to him? I argued, begged and threatened. Nothing worked. He moved out a few days later, angry and determined to do exactly as he pleased. That was when I finally let go. I’d had enough. I was done. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life.
My prayer that day went something like this; “Father, I still love him. I just don’t like him. I can’t condone what he’s doing and he’s not listening to reason. I’ve taught him all I can. I know he knows what’s right and is choosing not to do what’s right. It hurts, God, but I just can’t deal with him anymore. I can’t worry about him. He’s your child. He’s an adult and has to deal with the consequences of his own actions. Protect him; watch him and place people in his life that he will listen to and bring him back to you. You take care of him. Amen.”
Peace settled in my heart as God said “It’s about time you gave him back. He’s only yours on loan. Now I can deal with him as I planned.” Amazing what happens when I finally put that worry in the right hands. God created that child; warts and all. He has a divine plan for him that I can’t begin to see. I don’t need to see it to trust God to handle it. I had to let go and let God seek the Prodigal in the hog pens. He’ll find him and bring him home and we’ll all celebrate with a fatted calf when that happens. Easy? Hardly. But it is absolutely the thing to do. I know that because of the peace I now feel.
Proverbs 22:6 reminds us that all that hard work will pay off; just maybe not in our time frame. It says “when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Well, my son’s not old yet, so there’s still hope. In God, there’s always hope.