This weekend, we heard some news that has since given me great, great pause. The adult son of Rick Warren, pastor of one of the largest churches in the country and best-selling author of a ton of books on spiritual growth, committed suicide. The news article we read went on to tell about how this young man had struggled with mental illness and depression for years. I’m sure there had been many difficult days and seasons for the Warren family regarding their son’s wellbeing, but still, this was likely a shock and as such, an even greater grief for his parents to bear than any I can certainly imagine.
I’ve been turning this news and the implications of it over and over in my head since then. It’s been a good week for the Faulk family, given Ana’s decision and the significant conversations that have followed because of it. Not that we see Ana’s decision as a destination — it’s just the beginning for her. We have years left to guide her into adulthood as a believer, to encourage her towards maturity, and to watch and see what God does in her life before she’s on her own, and we’re so excited for every moment up ahead. Even still, in the back of my mind, I’ve been struggling against my inclination to look at this and believe, somehow, that the trust and faith part is “over.” Because Ana gets it and because I believe Emma will get it in her time as well, I somehow assume that they’ll walk this faith road ahead without any stumbling blocks or pitfalls. Sure, life will be life, but I’ve been believing and trusting that they’ll believe and trust Him through it all, never faltering or veering from this truth He’s placed in them and is nurturing in them.
But what if… what if I’m wrong?
I have the great privilege of being in a Sunday school class with women who are ahead of me on this parenting road. Some have children my age, others have children ten to fifteen years younger than me, and just one other woman is where I’m at with her own young daughter. (Hey, Rachel! LOL!) This has been a blessing as I’ve gotten to hear that people, especially grown adult children with mothers who love the Lord? Don’t always get it right. And there are pitfalls and heartbreaks and troubles. And if I, as a mother, could spare my girls all the heartbreaks and hurts and troubles that a life of walking away from the Lord could cause them? I would most certainly do it. We ALL would. But I CAN’T. I am powerless to make them follow Him in all things. I am powerless to save them from life’s struggles. And I am powerless to be who only Christ can be to them.
This is so hard. And I think about the Warren family, about how Dad and Mom? GET it. And LIVE it. And have seen God do some amazing, incredible things as they’ve walked with Him. And I have no idea who their son was, if he walked with Christ, if he knew God… but I know at some point, that all of the prayers and the intervention and the hopes and the help that his aptly-prepared and qualified and ministry-seasoned parents could have offered wasn’t enough. It was his walk, his life, and his decision.
I say I trust Jesus. And I say I have faith in Him. But I’m challenged to think that my faith is fractional when compared to the faith of those who walk this road and realize that they are only parents, only people, who cannot take responsibility for the faith of those around them. Yes, I have a holy obligation and responsibility to train my children in the Lord, but at a certain point that I myself have certainly not figured out yet, I have to acknowledge, confess, and live the truth that their walk with Him is THEIR walk with Him, not mine. And I have to trust that before they were my children, they were made in His image and that they belong to Him for all eternity.
It’s so hard. And I’m praying even now that God would make their faith certain, that He would direct their eyes solely on Him, and that they would be spared some of the hardships that come when we take our eyes from Him.
And as I do that, I’m praying most of all that I would remember to trust Him, no matter what the road ahead looks like for my girls.