Sunday, July 12, 2009

When Life Starts to Make Sense--Epilogue

It's been over a decade since I finished the series on the wayward child. If you read the whole thing, you know the personal pain and seemingly senseless suffering our family endured due to one child's rebellion. It continues...

There is an oft-repeated phrase in the Bible that I have learned to relish: "But God..."

Things look bleak, tragedy has struck, enemies surround, and life frankly makes no sense. It's been that way since history began. And it will continue until history ends. We try to make sense of it ourselves and fail. At the point where we throw up our hands and quit, God steps in.

Fifteen years ago, I would never have believed there would come a day when I would honestly thank God for allowing our family catastrophe. Accept it? Maybe. Endure it with patience? Possibly. But thank him? Impossible.

But God...

God used that season in my life to bring me to the end of myself so that he could finally do something with me. I didn't realize how much work needed to be done in my own life and he used this heartache to do it.

Due to all that God taught me through this and other painful life events, He has equipped me to become a counselor. For the past ten years, I have had the privilege of serving him as a certified lay counselor and seen hundreds of lives changed for His glory. I am reminded often of the words of Joseph in Genesis 50:20, "What you intended for evil, God intended for good to save the lives of many people."

I use what I learned about rage, bitterness, and forgiveness almost every week. God brings people to me who need to learn the lessons he taught me and it is my delight to help guide them to wholeness. I am now beginning to understand what God spoke to me years ago, that He would receive glory from this, but not in the way I thought.

So I am thankful for it. Thankful for the past pain, because it whittled away the junk from my life that hindered me from coming into a deeper relationship with God. Thankful for the continued hurt, because it keeps me humble and ever mindful of the pain my clients are experiencing. And I am thankful for the future testimony my daughter will have when she finally comes to the end of herself. 

She has given us a granddaughter, Bella, whom we adore. Bella has built a bridge in our family, and helped to heal our hearts.

So when life hurts, hang on to the most powerful phrase in the Bible: But God...



  1. It has been 6 years since you've written this and I wonder how things are for you right now. I just stumbled across this page and look forward to reading it!!! I am sad that I didn't find it 2 years ago, when my daughter secretly left our home at age 17 to go live many states away with her biological father, because he promised to buy her a new car if she did.
    Now she lives a life of a non-Christian, working at a Hooter's style winghouse, has begun 'collecting' tattoos, dresses like a prostitute, and loves the attention that it gets her. I am dying inside daily over her and her older brother, who also left my home at age 16 to go live with the same biological father. Today he is a married homosexual, lost to the world as well. And I raised them in the church, but for now, Satan wins. I am looking forward to reading the hope that your own experience will offer me, and helping me to deal with these up and down emotions that I've had for so long!
    God bless you for sharing ... it is still helping people to this day.

  2. Hi. Thank you so much. I'm so sorry for what you're going through with your kids. Nothing can wound us as deeply as the children we love. Its part of the price we pay for the privilege of being a parent.

    I want to encourage you to remember that this season is not the end of their stories. We tend to say to ourselves that it "didn't turn out well" or "that's how it ended." But this is simply another chapter in your family story. God sees the whole book and if our lives belong to Him, then we can trust Him with the ending.

    You asked how I am doing now, six years since I wrote that. My answer is that I have never been happier. God has so used all He did in me through that painful season that I am actually thankful for it. By allowing me to come to the end of myself, I was able to let go of much I'd been clinging to without realizing it. Control, pride, and self-righteousness all had to be broken before God could do in me what He needed to. Only when I was emptied of myself could I be filled with Him. And when He filled up those broken places, He also put new passions, love, and gifts so that I could serve Him better.

    For the past five years, I've served as a certified lay counselor through my church and been able to lead dozens of people to the Lord. Marriages healed, pasts overcome, addictions broken, and lives transformed all through the power of the Holy Spirit. I also became a writer for and get to use my study and writing gifts to impact countless others. God has so used that season of brokenness in my life that I am grateful. My daughter, at 28, is still not where I want her to be, but I know God is at work as I stay yielded to Him. She is a constant source of reality-check for me, as God uses ongoing difficulties to keep me clinging to Him.

    When we belong to Jesus and our lives are yielded to him, we have His assurance that everything will work together for the good when we trust Him with it. (Rom. 8:28).

    I prayed for you last night when I got your message. I hope you choose to let this pain propel you toward a deeper walk with Jesus.