I write these words with the tenderest (is that a word?) of hearts over the subject at hand. My heart is tender because I know what I am about to write is a common situation for so many of us, and as moms we are the walking wounded with broken hearts because of it.

My daughter is a prodigal. I came to Christ as an adult when my daughter was 2 years old, so she really does not have a memory of my life before. I found a good, solid church and we “did the things.” Church Christmas musical. Sunday School. Youth Group. Kid’s Bibles and devotionals and Veggie Tales. Took her to see Steven Curtis Chapman in concert more than once. It was not uncommon in the least for her to bring me her friends during sleepovers at our house to explain that she had talked to them about Jesus and that they had accepted Him as well.

I was so proud of her. And proud of me. I had done it well. RIGHT. When I sat down to think this through today and try to remember events, I came to the realization that I don’t remember the exact moment things changed.

Maybe there wasn’t an exact moment, but a string of them that I didn’t notice, until one day she told me that this “stuff” was great for me and all, but that she wasn’t so sure about any of it. She refused to go to church anymore. It wasn’t one particular event, she wasn’t getting bullied, it wasn’t anything I could fix. She was done. And I let her be done with varying responses from my church community.

Some applauded me for my restraint in letting her make this call on her own. Some told me flat out that I NEEDED TO GET HER INTO CHURCH. Period. I don’t know that either response was right or wrong. This was particularly distressing because I was a women’s ministry leader at the time, and how in the world do I think I have a thing to say to anyone else when I couldn’t control my own kid?

I should have prayed better. Or differently. Or harder. I should have home schooled and not let the influence of this world in. I should have sheltered her more effectively. The word “convent” came up in my thought processes at the time.

I should have been a BETTER MOTHER. I turned her decision about whether or not to walk with the Lord my ultimate failure and soaked in that for a really long time. Instead, I have learned that I need to pray for her more often than I actually do. When she was little I used to hear other parents talk about entrusting our children to the Lord and quite frankly I was never any good at it, thinking somehow by keeping her close I was protecting her.

Now, I throw her at Him. Violently. My consistent prayer has been that through her life Jesus will continue to meet her where she is, and in doing so will reveal her need of a Savior. She was right. This “stuff” is good for me and all, but whether or not she accepts this for herself is not in my hands. It never was.

Here’s what I can tell you about my kid. She is amazing, strong-willed, beautiful and smart. And funny as all get out (she gets this from me). I absolutely adore her. It has taken me many years not to end that sentence in a “BUT” with my conditions about how I want her life to be. How do you love your prodigal as they walk through their own journey? You love them.