The Secret to Surviving Rebellion
by Shauna Wallace
Pollyanna’s rose-colored glasses lay shattered on the floor of my heart. Where did we go wrong? How do other parents in the church seem to get it all right? And what would they think of our good, church-going family?
As parents of one teenager, a college student, and two grown children, we aren’t unfamiliar with the natural tension, exploration, and greater independence of steering youth into adulthood, but we weren’t prepared to discover footprints tangled like spaghetti on the path of destruction. Prayerful, watchful, locked-and-loaded, we commandeered every opportunity to steer, invest, and love. It didn’t appear to help.
When desperation demolished parental pride, James and I risked honesty with others to gain wisdom from their experience and comfort in their empathy. We discovered more Christian families than not have watched a child wander from their faith and biblical family values. Some have seen their wayward son or daughter return. Some are still watching, waiting, praying. Most aren’t talking about it.
Until you do…
You see, when our children leave the nest, our influence becomes their choice. We no longer control schedules, friends, and activities. Their particular progression into independent adulthood, which includes financial independence, is out of our hands; what we do to transition into this new season of parenting is not.
James and I unearthed a secret when we exposed our struggles: vulnerability breeds authenticity among a people accused of hypocrisy. When we bring our struggles into the light, genuine fellowship fosters deep friendships, strength, and intimate community, and that helps us survive what can be difficult during the teen and young-adult years.
No matter the ages of our children, we can be, and I would even say we need to be real about our flaws, insecurities, fears, and yes, even our sins, regrets, and need for repentance, prayer, and warfare, especially as it affects our kids. We know with certainty we made mistakes in parenting. At the same time, we did a lot well.
In the end, what we do matters. A lot. But eventually and for eternity, only their choices do. Each child is a sinner with their own sin nature, and in His lovingkindness, God has to confront each one’s hopeless unrighteousness to lead them to repentance. At some point, whether our kids are raised in the church and taught all the “good Christian behavior” or not, each one will have to face their need for salvation by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. To our great bewilderment and dismay, God may allow circumstances that wrench our hearts to ready theirs.
God alone can rescue our children and redeem their story for His glory. My children and yours aren’t the only ones ravaged by the tug of war for their souls. They won’t be the last. I hurt when my children struggle and suffer, but not without hope, because there is nothing too hard nor anyone too far gone for the Lord to redeem, including a rebellious, runaway heart.
Mama, I see you, and I agree: parenting an unruly child is hard at any age. You can do this! Don’t lose heart. Don’t give up. Don’t isolate in fear or shame. And no matter how bloody your bended knees, fix your eyes on Jesus and keep praying! The One who delivers sons and daughters from eating slop to the center of a celebration hears you and answers from heaven.
Much love and many blessings,
Women are drawn to Shauna’s teaching and Bible studies because of her in-depth yet conversational and practical approach to scripture’s truths as they apply to the nitty-gritty of daily life. The more she studies the Bible, the greater her grasp of God’s grace and love and the deeper her passion to see others experience the power and freedom of surrendering entirely to Him. She is a wife, mother and working woman who gladly and transparently connects with women wherever they are by sharing the good, bad and challenging of her life story, past, and present. Learn more at www.shaunawallace.com.