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Reaching Out

Was I that bad a parent? How had I gone so utterly wrong?
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How and where do I begin? How do you condense years of trauma and draw out the fitting lessons? Well, that’s what I intend to try to do. This article is written with the prayerful hope that it will be of some benefit to someone else.

I have three amazingly wonderful sons; only one has accepted our Master’s call and come into the Truth. The other two live their lives as happily as they can, and I live in hope for them. But what a long journey it has been.

As a toddler, my beautiful blonde-haired, blue-eyed baby was so good. I could take him anywhere without a problem, a fabulous young boy. But when he hit puberty, he turned into someone I didn’t recognize. He was quite shy (I realize now) until he started drinking alcohol. Then, he was no longer a shy young boy; he came out of his shell in ways I couldn’t believe.

He misbehaved at school, becoming rude and aggressive to teachers. After many exclusions, they eventually expelled him. He then turned to drugs and became involved in petty crimes, fighting and more. Not a day went by when the police weren’t on our doorstep until he was arrested.

Then, going to court became a regular occurrence. Eventually, after the courts had worked their way through all the levels of Anti-Social Behavior Orders (ASBOs) and other minor punishments, the day came when he was sent to a young offender’s prison. We visited him every week, praying he would learn his lesson, but sadly, he did not, and it took a few more prison stays.

I read an article recently about young people growing up in the Truth and their home life’s effect on them. One quote really struck me:

It became evident that the root of the problem and its cure lay largely in the homes of brothers and sisters themselves. Young people, in many cases, are only miming what they saw and faced in their own homes and the homes of others.

Wow. Although I understand what the writer was saying, it makes me feel terrible. Was I that bad a parent? How had I gone so utterly wrong?

So, where were our brothers and sisters in these desperate times? Well, they were there! Help and understanding sometimes came from the most unexpected people. Others were always in the wings with gentle words and encouraging hugs. Others were in your face, offering to have our son for a week to “sort him out.” I had the same feeling then as when I read that article.

Did my brothers and sisters really think they could do what we had been struggling for years to do? Were we really that useless? What did they think we had been doing? It hurt so much and made me angry. I already felt like a failure. I didn’t need it rubbed in my face. Like a mother hen with her chicks, my maternal (but alas worldly) protection unwittingly jumped in. I couldn’t help it; if someone ruffled my feathers, I would be more than likely to peck their eyes out, no matter who they were. I hated the mum, sister, person I was becoming.           

By this time, my husband and I had stopped attending most of our ecclesial gatherings. We only went to the Breaking of Bread each week with red eyes and heavy hearts. I felt so alone, desperate and in despair. And in that despair, I felt like a blot on the landscape, so ashamed, like the very scum of the ecclesia. I thought I had been brought so low that it was natural for me to feel in my heart that was how everyone in the meeting saw me.

After many other events and trials happening amid all this, we eventually decided to move out of that area, hoping to escape. Our son was a man now; we could do no more. We were deflated and exhausted. It was not plain sailing, and we still had obstacles to overcome, but with the move came growth. Strangely, our son, along with his partner and young son, followed us, as did our younger son. They have both grown steadily, with one having three children of his own and a long-term partner and the younger is married and expecting his first baby.

The majority of the growth came in myself—spiritually. I forgave my brothers and sisters. They had tried to do what was right but were either young or inexperienced and knew no better. One thing I realized was that without their unseen and unheard prayers, we would never have gotten this far. I am in a better mind than I was then and learning more each day to put my love and trust in our heavenly Father.

You may be young and inexperienced, like I was, struggling to bring up a child bent on rebellion and destruction, or in another situation and struggling. It’s okay. Reach out to our heavenly Father continually. He won’t let go of you. Reach out to your ecclesial family. They will do their best, and they will pray for you. Sometimes, we get to that point where the saying goes: “Let go and let God.” I’ve had to learn lessons the hard way, but I’ve learned to rejoice in my trials.

All things work together for good to them that love GOD, to them who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28).
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up. (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV).

You are not alone. 

Sister Ali,
Last name and ecclesia withheld

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