The hope I found with a wandering young adult child

He came home at spring break. He looked terrible. We knew classes were not going well, but something else was up. He relished telling us about all the parties he went to, how drinking was a favorite pastime. At dinner one evening, he asked us “you smoked pot during college, didn’t you?” His dad never did. I explained that I tried it once and didn’t like it. He was looking for validation for his own waywardness.

I was sure he was using more than pot. I cried out to my mom, she thought I was overreacting. Because, of course, no one in our family could believe that this kid could go down this ugly path.

Next, he told us he wasn’t returning to school. He was dropping out. His dad tried to convince him that there were only a few weeks left and he was doing good in at least one class. Try to finish strong. He wouldn’t listen, his mind was made up. He’s always been a head strong kid, but would listen and weigh what we had to say, not this time. But he did listen to the dean who told him he couldn’t drop out. After being home for almost two weeks, he went back to school. Took his finals. Then moved back home.

This is the boy who told me when entering the secular, state-run school after one year at a Christian school, “Mom, everyone will know I’m a Christian. I’ll stand strong. Don’t worry.”

Now my worries were coming true. Though, I really didn’t think he’d fall this far. He was strong. That strong-headedness of his also played into his faith. There was no way anyone could get him to wander from Jesus Christ.

Two years prior at his high school graduation from our homeschool, I had commended him on becoming a wonderful young man of Christ. I was proud of his accomplishments but most importantly his walk with the Lord. He spent his first semester in Ireland and was on the worship team for chapel. When we visited in October, along with the other parents, he led chapel that week.

What had gone wrong?

We are still unsure of what led him done this path. What has caused him to move away from the Godly principals we raised him with. We do know that he did not seek out a Christian community. A body of Christ to build him up and help him walk the walk. He still does not go to church on a regular basis. And now, he is going to be a father. His coming home did not help even though we set up some strict parameters for being back in our home. It is heart breaking.

But there is hope.

I went searching for why these young adult kids stray. Why do they leave behind that strong faith they had as teenagers? I came upon a
book by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer, Already Gone. And, I found nuggets of hope:

  • Of those 20-somethings that have left the church, 3/4 of them report high levels of belief in Biblical accuracy, authority, and history–they are still solid believers in Jesus Christ. They’ve just left the structured church, not their faith.
  • 38% answered “yes” when asked if they plan on regularly attending church once they have children.
  • The Bible is relevant to them, but the church is not. They need to be convinced that Christians in the church are living by God’s truth and living in a way that is relevant to their lives.

This last point, I actually asked my son. “Does this represent you…You find the Bible relevant, but the church is not relevant for you.” He said yes. It gave me a glimmer of hope. His actions were not Biblical. He was walking far away from the Savior he used to love and serve, but there was still something there. He admitted to me that he still read his Bible every night in bed.

Already Gone provided me with some knowledge and some hope. It gave me something to ask my son to open a door. And now that he is going to be a father, he has mentioned that he and the mother want to start going to church again. We’ve offered to visit churches with them and that they are always welcome to go with us, but they haven’t taken us up on it, yet. I keep praying and rest in the fact that he hasn’t completely walked away from God. He still believes and I just know deep in my heart that God will answer my mother’s prayer that my son will one day again be that strong man of God.

Now my daughter…..that’s another story!


10 thoughts on “The hope I found with a wandering young adult child

  1. Oh dear friend, my heart aches for you! I’m praying spiritual warfare over your son, his girlfriend, your grandchild, daughter…your home! May God speak loudly into their lives and lay claim to their hearts!
    Thanks for sharing!!

  2. Thank you for this. I have a “prodigal” of my own. . . . doing some things that I wouldn’t wish for him. He’s struggling with his faith. He believes in God, but he has his doubts. I’ve made some house rules for him when he comes home from college–no smoking in the house (for MY health reasons), no girls home alone (yes, he’s almost 20, but he will be chaperoned in our home). I don’t love the tattoo he has nor the one he will get. .. . I am going to have to make another rule: if he is at home with us on Sunday morning, he will go to worship with us, or he will explain to his grandparents why is not there, even though he is home.

    My grateful prayer is that he has chosen to attend a Lutheran church supported college, and he now has a room mate who prays for Aaron! It is making a difference. . . .

    Thank you again for this post. It is another answer to one of my prayers.

    • Thanks, Olivia. It is so hard isn’t it. We made a “contract” with our son with many of the same things you did. I told my son that Satan would not get a foothold in our home even if it was in the person of our son and if need be he’d be removed to remove Satan.

  3. I have that book too and need to give it a read.
    I have a daughter who has walked away but I believe God will pull her back under His guidance and protection. I know He loves her and I am trusting in that. He is in this circumstance. I watched Charles Stanley this week and it was very timely. I like how God works through Him.
    I also have two boys that have not entered into a personal relationship with Jesus but I trust in God’s timing.
    I just keep on praying for my kids.

    • Janet–prayer is our biggest weapon going through all of this. I feel God’s presence constantly and reaffirming me. I need to make sure my walk does not suffer b/c of my children’s straying.

  4. Ezekiel and Isaiah came against the leaders of their day because they were not leading the flock of God in righteousness. If the truth of God is relevant to all of life, why is the church not relevant? There is a book called “Revolution” by George Barna, he speaks of a group of people, others called un-churched. These folks worship God but do not go to “church” because they do not feel welcomed or they see the dichotomy of the lives of those in the fellowship. Either we believe it all, or not at all; as we are told to be either hot or cold but not lukewarm. It is the lack of passion the younger generation is witnessing, the lukewarm walk.

    Instead of the churches finding out how to restore passion and true revival, repenting and seeking God, the church continues in it catatonic, comatose state. This has been the clarion cry of prophets and remnant of God for centuries. Wake up church and see the damage at your door and behind your door. Revelation was right about the Laodicean church of the end times. As long as my husband and I walked double mindedly, our son rebelled, but as I learned to not compromise before the Lord, my daughter saw a different person, a passionate person, the passion of Christ reflected. Holiness and righteousness with accountability does not reign in the 4 walls of the churches today, that is what is turning the younger generation out in droves, just like in Ezekiel and Isaiah.

    Our son saw the change is us and that is what caused him to turn his own life around, the passion of Christ reflected. It was this fear of God’s people that kept others in check, the fear of their God. Society no longer fears the Christian or the God of the Christian, because of our witness to the world. If 12 disciples turned the world upside down in their day, what is it not happening now. Get passion for God’s Word and His work, goodness sake. I am so glad someone was honest enough with me to point out our son’s falling was due to our apathy of God’s Word and work, nothing else. When we owned the responsibility we repented and asked God to change our hearts for our children to see consistency with our walk and talk in accordance to His Word, God got the glory and our children now seek God and His Word.

  5. I have been reading through my prayer journal. Our problems with Aaron started in middle school, and because my husband also had some serious, even devastating mental health issues to deal with, I missed so many signs. . . And of course, being a mama, I feel so guilty. Thank goodness, I have Jesus’s grace and love! I started keeping a prayer journal this summer. I looked back over the journal, and I have prayed for Aaron EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. since the end of August. And my prayers are being answered in so many unexpected ways. Although Aaron is not in the place I want him to be, our relationship is being restored. I have spoken to him EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. since he had his breakdown in August (one week after moving into his college dorm). We are talking about a lot of things, and I am beginning to understand him more and more. I thank God for that! And now, this group. . . . this strand about our prodigal children. . . . it’s what I need. I have another son, older than Aaron, living on his own, pursuing his career as a teacher, and I pray for him as well. He is the older son in the parable, the one who stayed true to his upbringing, faithful to his beliefs, and like the son in the parable, does not always understand where his brother is coming from, how far his brother has come out of the darkness, and how I am making such a to-do over every tiny step that Aaron makes closer to us.

    Oh, gosh. I’m rambling. . . . Thank you again for your post. You don’t know how much it has helped me. And how it has answered my prayers.

    • So glad we can minister to you Olivia. Prayer is so vital during these times! Don’t worry about rambling, sometimes we need to just share.

  6. Pingback: Books to help you in your empty nesting walk | {relatively}empty nesting

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