I'll never forget the day I discovered that my children had hearts of their own! I don't mean physical hearts but spiritual hearts.
When my eldest turned thirteen I was prepared for that typical teenage rebellion of crazy fashions, blue hair, breaking curfew and screaming-loud music. But, I never prepared my heart for these words, "I'm not sure I believe the same things you believe. I'm not sure I even believe in God!"
Those words stabbed me right in the heart. For weeks my brain scanned all the stored video clips of my memory, looking for where my husband and I had gone wrong. I begged God to show me where my faith was weak; where I failed to live a godly life in front of my child that created such disbelief.
Then I got angry. I felt betrayed by God. I wondered, "How could you do this to me, God? I have raised my child to believe in you! Why aren't you honoring that training?" You see, I assumed that Proverbs 22:6, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it," was a promise. I thought if I raised my children to embrace my faith that I was guaranteed they too, would have my heart for God.
But, Proverbs 22:6 isn't a promise at all. It's only meant to be a word of wisdom for parents. It simply mean that as parents we should train, should discipline, should instruct our children in the way they should go so that when they get older they will know the way to go.
Just like we cannot force a stranger to grasp our heart for God, we cannot force that in our children (or any loved one) either. We can only live by example and pray for the Holy Spirit to do the rest. Jesus reassures us in John 14:26 , "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." This truth was the only hope my husband and I had for many, many months.
Our child's rebellion against God wasn't for us to solve. Did we need to keep the truth before that child? Absolutely. Did we need to allow the questions to be asked? Positively. Did we need to show unconditional love? Undoubtedly, yes! Did we need to wear holes in the knees of our jeans from praying for this child? Indeed! Was God faithful? Most amazingly so!
There is nothing more precious now, than to know my child has a heart of their own, a faith in God they can call their own and to watch that child train up the next generation.