One of my children has a friend who is going through a difficult time spiritually. They are not so much questioning the beliefs they grew up with as they are rebelling against them and choosing to say things that are disturbing.
My initial response was to wonder whether I should limit the time my child and this friend spend together. And my initial prayers have been things like, “Protect my child from this dark influence.” I’ve even asked a few of my friends to pray for my child’s protection.
I totally get where I’m coming from on this. If I could put my children in a box until they’re like twenty-five, and then send them out into the world with their careers and spouses all picked out and their faith intact, I think a small part of me would do that.
But then I started thinking about this in another way. I remember reading several years ago of a pastor who decided to stop praying with his son that he wouldn’t have nightmares, and instead started praying that when he did, his son would be really brave in his dreams.
So, I think I’m going to switch up how I look at this. Instead of considering limiting their interactions and instead of just praying that my child’s faith be untouched by this situation, I’m going to pray that my child become an influence of light on this friend. That this circumstance be used to help my child shape their faith for the better.
I told my child, “What this friend of yours is thinking and saying isn’t actually a logical train of thought. You can’t believe in X but no longer believe in Y. It doesn’t work like that. Which tells me that this friend of yours is more than likely going through a difficult time and not actually reconsidering the faith that they were brought up with. So, please don’t just take what this friend is saying as truth; talk it through with me (or somebody else). Ask me questions. Ask your friend questions. But don’t just assume this friend is right and take it on as your own.” I added, “And maybe you can influence your friend too…”
I was fifteen when I became a Christian, which feels like the perfect age to me. Because that meant I was fully capable of understanding what I was doing and making a choice for myself. I’ve worried all along that my kids – growing up in a Christian home with two Christian parents going to church twice a week since being in the womb – would never own their faith. I want them to choose – on their own – to follow after Jesus. And I think, as it turns out, things like this might actually help them do that. And why would I want to protect them from that?