When my daughter was in her last year of high school she finally admitted something that my
husband and I had known for a while, but not dare say aloud.
We hadn’t dared ask how her faith was going, what she was reading in the Bible or what she was doing at church. We just didn’t want to hear the answer. Perhaps I hoped that if I didn’t ask it would somehow all go away. So we said nothing. Until it all came to a head and finally the truth was out. Even though we had suspected where my daughter’s faith, or lack of faith was, I had no idea how gut-wrenchingly sad it would be to actually hear the words said out loud. Nothing prepared me for this. I had plenty of teaching on how to raise a child to know Jesus, but nothing on how to walk through this undesired rite of passage.
As my daughter grew up we had tried to give her, and our other children, every opportunity to grow in their faith. We prayed and read the Bible together at dinner. We prayed spontaneously when different things came up. We served God together and made sure that our children went to kids’ clubs, youth groups, and camps. We shared our lives and the challenges we experienced. But still our daughter strayed from the good news.
I was not prepared for how alone I would feel and how hard it became to pray for the months after our conversation. I wondered whether God would answer any prayers when the one prayer I really wanted answered remained without resolution.
I didn’t know at that first moment when she told us her news that I would cry at weddings of young happy Christian couples because it seemed unlikely that we would ever celebrate in this way. I didn’t know that I would cry at baptisms because the children she might have would not be raised to know God. I didn’t know that at funerals I would cry not just for the sadness of the day but for my daughter who might die and be eternally separated from God. And I didn’t know how many other parents were struggling because no one wanted to talk about it.
Perhaps surprisingly I found comfort in the verses in Job 19:25-27 where I am assured that no matter what happens, God is with me and I with Him.
I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes — I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
My redeemer lives. My God loves me. And although it is painful and sad, God’s power and might is not taken away when someone we love denies Him. God’s love is not taken away because it is ignored. And as I stand alone before God, I remain thankful for His salvation and love. And although I can feel powerless, there are two things that I can continue to do. I love my daughter unconditionally, and there’s no challenge in that as I haven’t stopped loving her because of her choice. And every day I pray that one day she will turn back to God and know that her redeemer lives.
To protect the identity of the daughter referred to in this piece we have decided it is best to publish it anonymously.