It has been said that in marriage, the pain and stress of divorce is greater than even the pain of losing a spouse to death. I believe the same can be said of breaking ties with your child. Unless one has experienced this kind of loss and grief, they cannot fully understand the depth of pain experienced by a parent.
Someone may ask, “Why would anyone break ties with her own child?” The answer is, “loyalty to Jesus.” Being a disciple of Jesus demands our relationship to him be greater than our relationship to our own family, even our own children (Matthew 10:37).
I pray that you never have to make such a sacrifice, but I also pray that you love the Lord enough to choose Him over your children. This is where we find ourselves. This is our life. Our oldest son has turned his back on the Lord, and in spite of all our attempts, he refuses to repent. Consequently, our relationship has changed. It cannot remain the same and be loyal to Jesus (2 Thessalonians 3:6,14-15; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13). Our contact with our son is now limited to attempts at restoration. We have no fellowship. We used to share holidays, regular phone calls and texts, family events, etc. but now, all that is gone. Our son has completely turned his back on everything he ever believed. He has no respect for the Lord or His church. He has chosen a life of sin rather than the hope of salvation. And because of his rebellion against God, we as parents must make a choice. Do we overlook his practice of sin and maintain our relationship, or do we withdraw ourselves from him as the Lord instructs?
I believe that the blood of Christ is more important that the physical flesh and blood that I share with my son. Unfortunately, my husband and I know the pain of “giving our child to the Devil.” Those words are sharp, shocking and grim, just as Paul intended them to be when he wrote them (1 Corinthians 5:5). Perhaps I am writing this is for myself more than for those who are reading. I have not seen my son in nearly two and a half years now and there are days that the pain is just as fresh as ever. Until now, I have kept this pain inside and shared with only a couple of my closest friends. I am not sure that a day has gone by that I have not shed tears. Sometimes it is a single tear and other days are gut wrenching cries of despair. I have pulled into my driveway with tears blinding my eyes, only to find myself literally screaming and wailing in grief. I’m devastated by our loss; his loss.
I feel desperation and hopelessness. I’m scared. What probably began as harmless flirtation with sin has now become a quicksand that pulls my son deeper and deeper toward Hell. Sometimes I feel jealous of other parents who have close, loving relationships with all their grown children. I feel embarrassed by what my son has done.
The fact is, I don’t know this person that I once thought I knew so well. Was I blind to things that I should have seen? I believed our relationship was so close. I adored this child. Was the love our son expressed to us all a lie? How does one go from being a respectful obedient child to flagrantly disregarding everything we taught him and everything that we stand for?
A full night’s sleep…what is that? While I am able to fall asleep easily, there is not a night that goes by that I sleep until morning. I awaken in the middle of the night, and the first thought in my mind is that I had just had a terrible dream, but I soon realize that it wasn’t a dream, it is reality; my reality.
I try to picture where my son is now and what he may be doing. I hurt. Sin is ugly. It is disgusting. It perverts. While I don’t want to know, I find myself drawn to his social media like watching two cars collide. I want to look away, but I can’t. I care too much.
Sometimes the hardest thing are the memories. Remembering the joy I felt in that plump baby who looked at me so adoringly. I remember when he sat on the kitchen counter helping peel potatoes or stir ingredients into the batter. I remember our home school days at the kitchen table and reading together on the couch. I remember singing harmony together in the kitchen. I remember the pride I felt when he led singing or gave a talk at young men’s night at church. Those memories are all I have left now. There are no more to make.
Occasionally, I may see a young man that looks like my son. Or, I may be cleaning out a closet and see a photograph. I may be asked by a well-meaning person, where my son is now. All these make me cry. He was such a handsome boy, an excellent student, a talented musician, so kind and thoughtful of others. He never gave us trouble while at home. He loved his siblings. I remember his “infectious laugh.”
Mother’s day and Father’s day are so hard. While we used to receive the most precious cards and notes of love and appreciation, now any correspondence from him are filled with anger, blame, hateful words. Even worse are the sarcastic and blasphemous words used toward his heavenly Father.
Self evaluation, guilt, despair, fear….I have felt all these emotions. Who is a perfect parent? Who doesn’t have something that they would change if they could go back. Even so, I know that we were good parents. We loved our son, spent time with him, encouraged him, and taught him God’s word.
I don’t know what the future holds for our son or our family. What I do know is that God is faithful (2 Thessalonians 3:3). He will do what is right (Genesis 18:25). He will reward those who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6). More than I could have ever understood before, I long for the promises of heaven, namely that God will wipe away every tear…there will be no more death, sorrow, crying, or pain (Revelation 21:4).
Heaven will be a place of great reunion with those who have gone on before. There is an old hymn that invites everyone to “come to the feast”. I just wish we didn’t have an empty chair at our table.
Addendum: After having read several replies to my article, I saw several common misconceptions that were continually being made. Therefore, I thought I might clear a few of these up for some readers.
1. Unconditional Love Is Not The Same Thing As Acceptance. Nearly everyone who has written to me has “scolded” me for not loving my child “unconditionally.” Their accusation is false. I do love my child unconditionally. There is nothing that my child could ever do to make me stop loving him. I believe that’s what unconditional love is, and that’s what I practice. However, many are apparently confused being unable to distinguish between unconditional love and acceptance. While I will never stop loving my son, I refuse to accept the sin of which my son remains unrepentant. God is indeed a God of love, but have so many forgotten that this “God of love” disciplines his children, even “giving them up” (Romans 1:24,26,28), and will some day eternally separate himself from them? God doesn’t stop loving his children, but his love doesn’t keep him from separating himself from them (Isaiah 59:1-2). I think if people would read the prophets, they’d be shocked to see how their short-sighted view of love is overturned by God’s genuine response of love. Furthermore, you might do well to remember that a man, a good man, came to Jesus and asked him what he needed to do to be saved. Jesus told him, and the man was unwilling to do it. But don’t miss this. The text says that Jesus, looking at him, loved him. But he let him walk away. He didn’t call him back. He didn’t change his terms. He loved him, but let him walk away (Mark 10:21-22). The fact that our son has walked away from us doesn’t mean we have stopped loving him.
2. Jesus Loved Sinners, even socializing with them. Of course he did. And so do I. But what many are failing to understand is that there are two types of sinners. Sinners who are outside the body of Christ (still in the world), and sinners who are part of the body of Christ (brethren). The inspired apostle Paul said they are to be treated differently (1 Corinthians 5:9-11). The Corinthians had a question about keeping company with sinners and Paul told them they had misunderstood his instructions. He said that he was not forbidding Christians from keeping company with sinners, otherwise, we couldn’t live in the world. Instead, he was telling them that they were not to keep company or fellowship, not even to eat with a sinner who is a BROTHER in Christ. I’m not surprised that so many failed to see this distinction because it isn’t frequently preached, and it is even more seldom put into practice. But it is in the Bible…read it for yourself.
3. What Is The Sin That Is So Terrible That You Would “Abandon” Your Son? First of all, we haven’t “abandoned” our son. He has abandoned us. We are right where we have always been. Even the prophet Amos said that two cannot walk together unless they be agreed (Amos 3:3). He chose to walk down a path of sin; a path in which we will not walk with him, nor will we endorse him as he walks it. My loyalty is first to God, not my family (Matthew 10:34-37). Second, the specific sin is irrelevant. My response would be the same if he were unrepentant with regard to any sin. Of course, I’m not talking about sins of momentary human weakness, sins committed in the moment, or sins we are trying to fight. I’m talking about sins to which we have given ourselves. Sins we no longer fight, but to which we have surrendered ourselves. Again, the doctrine of discipline is ignored by many Christians today, and so they, along with the world, are shocked to learn of such doctrine. But if you believe the Bible to be the word of God, then it’s there staring you in the face, and you have a decision to obey or disobey it (1 Corinthians 5:1-13; 2 Thessalonians 3:6,14-15).
And one final thought. Those who have, through their “feigned” righteous indignation, called for my death; prayed that I rot in Hell; proposed sexual acts be done to me; cursed at me with the vilest of profanities; and who have blasphemed the God I serve…let me assure you of this one thing…Your hateful words have only solidified my stance. Your hate speech, draped in feigned concern and love for God and my son, have served to remind me that I live in a fallen world. Your words have emboldened me and have not caused me to shrink. Your words have deepened my roots. I will not be moved. In fact, your words have actually given me reason to rejoice in that you have allowed me the privilege, however small it may be, to share in the suffering of Jesus. “But rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings…” (1 Peter 4:13).