Walking Away: Hope for Parents of Faith-Rejecting Children

“Why do you want me to take this quiz? I’m not even a Christian.” (The quiz? “What Kind of Millennial Christian Are You?” The question: asked by my not-always-agnostic son.)

walking away

Free-Spirited 

Our firstborn, a son. Free-spirited. For the most part, gloriously so. In the 21 years of being his parent, I’ve never once seen him self-conscious. Clothing is regarded a necessary evil, as are seat belts and shoelaces. No respecter of persons, he will just as eagerly shake your hand as President Obama’s; admirably guileless.

Imagine raising Jungle Book’s Mowgli and you’ve bulls-eyed the years of shock and awe parenting we’ve enjoyed.  Such adventures should have prepared us for his declaration—and growing conviction since—of agnosticism toward the end of his high school experience. Nope. More shock. No awe.

His doubts and discontent with our traditional values quickly catalyzed into a full-blown Rumspringa of a senior year; self-emancipated well ahead of his actual commencement, he was hardly home and when he was, things were tense.

Questions
We hadn’t prepared for this. Dating issues, poor grades, the cost of college tuition, porn and substance abuse, yes. “God is dead”? Not so much.

“How we do this? How do we beat the fear? Our worldview damns our unrepentant, seat belt-eschewing son to eternal hell. What kind of parent doesn’t feel the urgency with stakes that high?

Do we require him to go to church if he lives here? Charge him rent and ignore his Sunday habits like we would a tenant? Excommunicate him like John Piper did with his son? What about his brothers? How do we not neglect them in this crisis?

We wrestled these questions out in good community; where people talk like this. Painfully, but eventually, we moved to a place of grace; mostly toward ourselves: it wasn’t our fault.

Ex Nihilo

photo-1450849608880-6f787542c88a

These days, our son still lives at home, works hard at his job, and is saving for the security deposit on an apartment. He continues with the indiscriminate hand-shaking. The blunt-force honesty too. What’s new is the parental clarity, 100-proof and adversity-born. We’re back-to-basics:

  • FAITH: God still operates Ex Nihilo, creating everything He makes out of nothing. Our son’s salvation will be the same as ours; a seeking and saving of a sheep gone astray.
  • HOPE: We wait and pray. God’s mercies are new every morning.
  • LOVE: It never fails. We anchor our faith and hope on that. Our wild but not-yet-free son often hears this from me as he heads out the door: “I love you. Wear your seatbelt…and call on the name of the Lord if you’re in a jam; he’ll come running.”

What circumstantial or relational “nothingness” will you entrust to your Ex Nihilo God?

-KO

One thought on “Walking Away: Hope for Parents of Faith-Rejecting Children

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *