July 30, 2017
Love Never Fails
She’s not that sweet baby girl you once knew. Somehow, when you weren’t looking, she grew up. And in spite of 18 years of your very best parenting and your most fervent prayers and your consistent love and nurture and training, somewhere along the way she chose a different path. A dangerous path that has left you frightened and anxious about her future.
When you look at her piercings (27 at last count), black eye make-up, and dyed hair that covers most of her face, you barely recognize her. Who is this person sitting on your front porch sharing a cigarette with her tattooed boyfriend? How can this young lady with the slumped shoulders and bony ribs possibly be the same girl you once tenderly rocked to sleep?
This is perhaps the most difficult path that you have ever been asked to take. It requires more faith than you think you have. What are you supposed to do now? Does she need “tough love,” where you lay down the law, keep the standard high, and accept nothing less? Or does she need grace and acceptance and unconditional love? Do you let her live with you while she struggles to find her way, or, since she has chosen such an immoral and self-destructive lifestyle, do you make her leave your home and find a new place to live? There are no easy answers. Or rather, so many possible answers! How do you know which one is right?
First of all, ask yourself, what has God called you to do? Has He called you to raise a godly child, or has He called you to be a godly parent? Is He asking that you force her to walk in faith, or is He asking you to walk in faith? Regardless of the choices that she is making, you can choose to continue trusting in the One who has called you to this journey. Just as you are learning to trust Him during the difficulties that you never imagined you would face, your precious child will need to learn the same thing. In her own way, in her own time.
Secondly, what if she wasn’t your child? What if she was the daughter of your best friend? Or your neighbor’s child? Or a young co-worker who you see every day. Would you be devastated by her choices? Would her struggles cause you to lose your faith? Would you be so heartbroken by her lifestyle that you would be unable to love her? Would you give up all hope? Of course not! If she was anyone else’s child, you would love and extend and reach out and give and serve at every available moment. You would be thankful that the Lord brought her into your life and allowed you to be a part of her story. You would be honored to be the one to share His love with her!
Unfortunately, there have been so many painful interactions the past few months – even years. You make the effort to spend time with her and remind her of the Truth, but the talks don’t go well. The discussions invariably end in shouting, slammed doors, and injured feelings. Any connection that might have been there before is even more damaged. Why do you even try to talk to her?
As much as you hate to admit it, she doesn’t need another lecture. She doesn’t need to be reminded of her sinful lifestyle. As if God is thinking, I sure do wish that parent would have nagged a little more. Been just a little more preachy. After being raised in a home where God’s Word has always been revered, and where godliness has consistently been modeled, she knows the truth. It is not your job to keep reminding her of the error of her ways. It is not your job to convict her of sin. The Lord is perfectly capable and powerful enough to reach her heart and open her eyes.
So if you don’t confront her, if you don’t challenge her sinful lifestyle and shameful choices, what can you say? What can you do? She will be reached, I truly believe, through your continuing, unending, unconditional, persevering love. When you have no answers, and when you wish fervently that you had more wisdom, err on the side of love.
Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8). If you have all the right answers and know the right words to say and have all the right Bible verses memorized; if you have all wisdom but do not have love, you are, I’m sorry to say, a clanging cymbal (I Corinthians 13:1-2). May all your words, actions, facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language let her know that she is loved!
As much as it is within your power, may your home be a place where she longs to be! Where she knows that she is always welcome! Where she knows she can always return when she finally gives her heart and life to the Lord.
Does it mean celebrating her sinful lifestyle? Of course not! In the darkness of your bedroom in the middle of the night, there will be tears streaming down your face as you doubt that your faith is strong enough for this. As you watch your hope diminish with every choice she makes. As you cry out to the Lord to please, please save her! To please don’t give up pursuing her! Yes, she is breaking your heart into thousands of pieces, but reminding her of that isn’t going to change her.
The goal of every face to face interaction with her should be to shower her with God’s love! You can look for opportunities! Cook her favorite meals. Send texts and e-mails saying “thinking of you.” Ask, “How are you doing?” and then really listen. Ask yourself, if the tables were turned and you were living in sin, would you want to constantly be looking into the eyes of judgement? Or would you want to be like the prodigal son, who sees the loving Father? The loving Father who is daily searching the horizon with eyes full of hope?
It is the Lord’s kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4), and it should absolutely be the same with you. Who knows? It very well could be your kindness, not your judgement, that leads your precious daughter to repentance!
This is such a hard, challenging, heart-breaking path. But you can walk it with your head held high and your heart full of unwavering faith. You can be fully secure in the knowledge that He loves your child even more than you do! That He is the One who is writing the story that is still being written.
You cannot save her. You cannot force her to walk in faith. You can, however, love her. You can love and extend and reach out and give and serve at every available moment. You can be thankful that the Lord brought her into your life, allowing you to be a part of her story. Honored to be the one to share His love with her!
Love always . . . hopes,
And now these three remain:
Faith, Hope and Love.
But the greatest of these is love.
Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13